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Both nouns mean 'ban, prohibition​' and both verbs 'forbid'. I expect that in set combinations, such as 禁煙 for 'no smoking', there is only one correct possibility. But, otherwise, what's the difference?

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  • I figure 禁 is the shortened form but i'll let others give a real answer Feb 5, 2019 at 16:00

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As nouns:

  • 禁 is not commonly used as a noun, it is almost always used as a bound morpheme if you use it like a noun, it would sound antiquated, like you are quoting from an old book

「沈黙{ちんもく}は金{きん}どころか、禁{きん}である」

As a bound morpheme, it is very common 解禁{かいきん}、厳禁{げんきん}、禁煙{きんえん}

  • 禁止 is the common noun for banning or prohibiting, but most commonly it is made into a verb

("ban" or "prohibition" as nouns would probably be translated 禁止令{きんしれい} or 禁止法{きんしほう})

As verbs:

  • 禁じる・禁ずる has an antiquated feel to it, heavy and serious, like "to forbid"

  • 禁止する is neutral and common, just meaning to "ban", "prohibit", "not allow" etc.

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