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Today I learned that itadaku can be written as 戴く or 頂く. According to Tangorin, 頂 means "place on the head; receive; top of head; top; summit; peak" and 戴 has the overlapping meaning "be crowned with; live under (a ruler); receive."

When would you choose one over the other? Does it depend on the occasion?

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None of the monolingual dictionaries I've looked up explains the difference. In everyday writings, you can just stick to 頂く when it's used as a normal verb, and (~て)いただく when it's used as a subsidiary verb (because subsidiary verbs are written in hiragana anyway).

戴く is not particularly difficult for native speakers, but this character was not even a 常用漢字 until 2010, and even after that いただく is not listed as a kun-reading of this kanji.

From 常用漢字表

So 戴く is one of those "alternative kanji" you may consider using instead of common ones if you need to do some creative writings. Other such kanji include 唄う, 護る, 哭く, 往く and 訊く. There are hundreds of kanji that only basically novelists and lyricists use on a regular basis. I think 戴く tends to look older and more dignified.

Finally, there seem to be quite a few clickbait online articles which are saying there is some deep and essential difference. Please ignore low-quality articles which cite no authoritative references. Perhaps this explanation by ALC is worth reading.

  • This really broadens my horizons. Thank you! :) – spazquest Dec 21 '17 at 20:01
  • @chocolate 毎度すみません… – naruto Dec 22 '17 at 15:03

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