Both words are defined as "To make up for". What is the difference and in what contexts are these words used?

Thanks in advance.

1 Answer 1


補う means "to add what's missing", "to support where something is lacking". E.g. 補い合う means to be complementary to each other. Examples are 弱点を補う、ビタミンDの不足を補う and so on. It's typically used when the intention is to be better, more productive etc.

埋め合わせる means "to equalize". Compared to 補う, it's used for rather "defensive" situations like 損失を埋め合わせる、代替品で埋め合わせる and means more like "make do with/get by with".

E.g. 欠点を補い合う sounds very natural and positive, but 欠点を埋め合わせ合う sounds very negative (almost depressing) and odd.

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