I'm trying to understand if there is a difference between the two words 直感 and 直観. After looking both words up in a dictionary, the entries both list "intuition / intuitive". I also tried looking up the words in a Japanese dictionary, but I was unable to see a notable difference.

What are the correct ways to use these words?

Could this sentence be replaced with 直感的?:


  • 1
    One of my Japanese-English dictionaries says 直観 is "intuition/instinct/immediacy", and 直感 is "hunch/scent/flair/sixth sense".
    – user1016
    Jul 4, 2012 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


直観 is a term coined by translation. (In Japanese we call this 訳語) Specifically, it is used to express German "Anschauung" or English / French "intuition". In the 1881 dictionary 哲学字彙, English "intuition" and German "Anschauung" are both translated as 直覚力. But by 1912, the two terms are distinguished in 英独仏和哲学字彙 which gives English intuition as 直覚 and German Anschauung as 直観.

Also notice that in the historically spelling (歴史的仮名遣) system, the two words were spelled differently: 直感 is チョクカン (chokkan) while 直観 is チョククヮン (chokkwan).

直観 is a philosophical term, while 直感 may be more widely used.

  • So, 直覚[ちょっかく] is "intuition", 直観[ちょっかん] is more like "Anschauung", and 直感[ちょっかん] is "intuition" too?
    – user1016
    Jul 1, 2012 at 18:13
  • So, if there was a previous translation (that was understood by Japanese?), then a retranslation / separation, was this also widely understood? It seems odd that there would need to be a separation since it is a translated word. More clearly, why was it necessary that the word be retranslated / separated?
    – Chris
    Jul 2, 2012 at 18:25

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