Both words mean blind. I tried doing some research but I couldn't find the difference.

  • 2
    It's interesting. In morden Chinese 盲目 is most commonly used as in "blindly follow what someone says", usually doesn't refer to a blind people.
    – Zhang
    Apr 24 '20 at 5:59

盲目の is close to "blind". It is not derogatory IMHO, but I must say it is often sensitive because a few people dislike the 亡 ("death") component of 盲, just as there are people who dislike 障害. Although it is still used in solemn literary contexts today, it is no longer a primary choice.

目の不自由な is more like "visually-challenged". It sounds much politer and politically correct. In addition, 目の不自由な方 also includes those with low vision as well as totally blind people.

Another important phrase is 視覚障害のある ("with visual impairment") or 視覚障害者 ("visually impaired person"). I think this is the most neutral and safest phrase today.

  • 1
    It might be worth mentioning that 盲目 lends itself to figurative usage in a way that 目の不自由 does not – another significant difference between the two terms, and also another way in which they parallel "blind/blindness" and "visually impaired/visual impairment" in English."
    – Nanigashi
    Apr 23 '20 at 22:16
  • 3
    @Nanigashi Ah yes, 恋は盲目 is a well-known saying.
    – naruto
    Apr 23 '20 at 22:21

盲目 is a more clinical term that means "blindness." 目の不自由な is a more euphemistic, warmer phrase that you often used when talking about blind people, especially in a non-clinical setting. English analogues might be someone who is "optically challenged" or "vision impaired." Same meaning, but a bit more empathetic.

  • 3
    盲目 is almost never used as a medical term. Physicians usually say 盲【もう】 or 視覚障害 in purely medical contexts.
    – naruto
    Apr 23 '20 at 22:11
  • Perhaps "clinical" isn't the best descriptor, then. I meant it more in the sense of being colder or more direct, or at least separate from the concept of empathy. Would you agree with that? @naruto
    – ssb
    Apr 23 '20 at 22:28
  • Yes, I can agree with that.
    – naruto
    Apr 23 '20 at 22:35
  • 1
    @naruto I don't know if it was ssb's intention (and it was ambiguous in this context) but 'clinical' doesn't necessarily have to be a medical term. "expressing no emotion or feelings" and "showing no character and warmth" are two definitions from this dictionary: dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/clinical Apr 24 '20 at 9:14
  • @user3856370 Thank you, I did not know that.
    – naruto
    Apr 25 '20 at 8:35

Apart from 目の不自由な方 being more polite and politically correct it refers to the person being blind whereas 盲目 is blindness itself.

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