I have found three different words meaning parents-in-law:

  • [舅姑]{きゅうこ}
  • [義父母]{ぎふぼ}
  • [義理]{ぎり}の[親]{おや}

But I'm sure the words are not interchangeable.

How are the words different? What would be the right way to use each of the words?


A corpus is a good tool to answer this type of question yourself.

  • 舅姑: 30 Hits (Many instances are from the same author born before 1960's)
  • 義父母: 50 Hits (Many are from blog articles and chiebukuro questions)
    • 義母: 758 Hits
    • 義父: 536 Hits
  • 義理の親: 7 Hits
    • 義理の母: 30 Hits
    • 義理の父: 33 Hits
  • 義親: 20 Hits

IMHO, 舅姑 sounds old, and it may have an unwanted connotation (the kanji 姑 is often used to refer to bad MIL/DIL relationships, aka 嫁姑問題). If you want a safe and neutral word, I recommend 義父母 or 義理の親.

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