I came across 咽喉【のど】 while reading. Jisho doesn't have「のど」listed as a reading of 咽喉, but it does have it under 喉.

So now I'm wondering what the differences between 咽喉【のど】, 咽喉【いんこう】 and 喉【のど】 are, since both「のど」and「いんこう」are defined as "throat".

Does anyone know?

3 Answers 3


[咽喉]{いんこう} and [喉]{のど} are synonyms, but [咽喉]{いんこう} has a more limited usage, meaning either the throat (larynx + pharynx) or a vital passage.

[喉]{のど} also means throat, but it has a more wider, colloquial usage.

For example, you can say 「[喉]{のど}が[渇]{かわ}く」 (to be thirsty, lit. the throat becomes thirsty) but you can’t say 「[咽喉]{いんこう}が[渇]{かわ}く」

[喉]{のど} also means a (singing) voice, eg. のど自慢.

In this case, [咽喉]{のど} was probably used by the author to designate the actual body part while at the same time remaining more colloquial in tone.


「のど」 is the original Japanese word for "throat". It makes no difference if you write it in kana or kanji as we already had this word when Japanese was only a spoken language. "Nodo" is the word that is intuitive to the native speakers.

「咽喉{いんこう}」 is the "big" Sino-loanword. It sounds technical, formal, academic, etc. just like many Sino-loanwords do. 「咽喉」 is never a "household" word.

「のど」 is the word we use to talk about a throat 99.99% of the time in our daily life.

「咽喉」 is a medical term for us native speakers. Unless you are a doctor, the only time you would utter this word would be when talking about 「耳鼻咽喉科{じびいんこうか}」 (an otolaryngologist's office, a.k.a. "an ear, nose and throat specialist").

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  • Two comments from a non-native speaker, using [咽喉]{いんこう} has gotten me some mighty strange looks even when talking about a 耳鼻科. Apparently, there's a rather sketchy word with the same pronunciation (I've not bothered trying to learn exactly what that word means).
    – virmaior
    Commented Feb 28, 2018 at 22:15
  • Second comment, most Americans (can't speak for the Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, etc.) say ENT or "Ear Nose Throat" Doctor but would know otolaryngologist.
    – virmaior
    Commented Feb 28, 2018 at 22:16

Please see the other answers for the difference between 咽喉【いんこう】 and 喉【のど】 (basically 咽喉 is a technical term, "laryngopharynx"). Mine is specifically about 咽喉【のど】.

The official reading of 喉 is のど, and that of 咽喉 is いんこう. のど is not listed as a reading of 咽喉, and it's not a mistake of jisho. None of the dictionaries I checked suggest 咽喉 can be read as のど, and my IME doesn't convert のど to 咽喉, either.

I think the usage of 咽喉【のど】 is more or less in the same vein as 未来【あす】, 希望【ゆめ】, 時間【とき】, etc., which is described in this question: Why are some lyrics' words written in kanji whose usual reading is not how it is sung? Sometimes novelists and lyricists want a complicated look of kango and a familiarity of wago at the same time. This is acceptable only in creative writing.

Or else, you may see a similar example in old novels, because kanji readings were not very standardized in those days anyway.

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