I am learning the word 「名称【めいしょう】」. According to the dictionary, it means "name", but so does 「名前【なまえ】」. What are the differences in terms of meaning and usage between both words?

I noticed that the entry for 「名称【めいしょう】」 states that it can mean "title", yet I can't figure out how to use the word properly.


  • 1
    related japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/24410/…
    – Jack Bosma
    Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 19:30
  • 1
    I always find jisho.org to be very helpful in finding words and also sentences where the words are used.
    – Jack Bosma
    Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 20:56
  • 2
    @JACK just a word of caution, but sentences from Jisho are not necessarily written by, or checked by, native speakers. They come from a third party website that anyone can contribute to.
    – Leebo
    Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 23:58
  • @Leebo I agree and assume its the same with all sites.
    – Jack Bosma
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 0:23
  • 1
    @JACK there are plenty of resources with content written by natives. For instance the Balanced Corpus of Contemporary Written Japanese. That's a curated database, so it can't be contributed to by random internet users.
    – Leebo
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 0:28

1 Answer 1


The differences come from the fact that:

「名前{なまえ}」 is an originally Japanese word while

「名称{めいしょう}」 is a Sino-loanword.


For the reason above, 「名称」 is more formal, academic and technical than 「名前」. Think about "chat" vs "conversation", "deep" vs. "profound", etc. in English. In both Japanese and English, the big words have mostly come from "somewhere else".


「名称」 means the name of a thing or organization -- almost anything, really. The only thing it does not mean is a personal name.

「名前」 can mean any kind of name including personal names.

For the particular meaning of "personal name", we use 「氏名{しめい}」 to sound more formal. We never use 「名称」 for that purpose.

  • Can you also cover 名字 here? And 名? Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 13:56
  • As far as I know, 名字 means "surname" or "family name".
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 20:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .