I saw this character in a manga today and it was the first time I'd seen it. Is this kanji something most native speakers would recognize?

  • 1
    Well, I know it, and I'm not a native speaker. Of course, being a native speaker and being literate are two different things, and you accidentally asked about the wrong one.
    – user1478
    Nov 29, 2017 at 21:21
  • Do you remember where you came across it? I was wondering how common it is, and was using the gauge of whether native speakers recognize it.
    – kandyman
    Nov 29, 2017 at 21:34
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    Sometimes we non-natives learn stuff which is totally irrelevant. I came across a phrase many years ago, 獅子奮迅の努力をする and I memorized it because I assumed it was a common phrase. But some time later I realized that anyone I mentioned it to didn't know what it was. I've done this several times, learning phrases nobody seems to know. It's kind of a waste of memory space, and I guess I was debating whether to include this kanji in my learning process or just forget about it.
    – kandyman
    Nov 29, 2017 at 21:37
  • A kanji can be both recognized by literate Japanese and relatively infrequently used. The two are not mutually exclusive.
    – Leebo
    Nov 29, 2017 at 21:47
  • @Leebo well that's pretty obvious.
    – kandyman
    Nov 30, 2017 at 13:32

2 Answers 2


I think virtually every adult native speaker knows this kanji (well, at least how to read it). The two formal meanings of 謳う listed in any dictionary are "to openly celebrate/praise/glorify/enjoy" and "to publicly declare". See: jisho.org and this entry. In these senses, using 歌う is absolutely incorrect.

  • この世の平和を謳う。
  • クレオパトラは絶世の美女だと謳われている。
  • それは頭痛に効くと謳われている薬です。
  • アメリカ合衆国憲法修正第2条は国民が武器を持つ権利を謳っている。

But you can always avoid using difficult kanji and stick to hiragana うたう. See this discussion, too.

In addition, this is one of those kanji used in aesthetic writings to add some literary/poetic flavor (like 護る vs 守る, 哭く vs 泣く). うたう meaning "to sing" has many variations including 歌う, 謳う, 唄う, 謡う and 唱う. In lyrics, 謳 is used somewhat arbitrarily, and the difference may not be very important.

  • Thanks, I'm actually very interested in poetic usage of kanji, like the examples you mentioned 哭く vs 泣く. Do you know of any website which contains lists of such word pairs?
    – kandyman
    Nov 30, 2017 at 13:30
  • I don't know such a list; what's poetic is a very subjective matter, and writers have tons of options. By the way, I encountered this kanji 10 minutes ago in this page :)
    – naruto
    Nov 30, 2017 at 15:03

I would say many would partly because 「青春{せいしゅん}を謳歌{おうか}する」("to really enjoy one's youth") is such a common set phrase.

Literally, that means "to sing the praises of youth".

  • Great. In that case, I will definitely learn it.
    – kandyman
    Nov 30, 2017 at 13:30

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