I just found a sentence in which 「露見」 is used:


which I think it's pretty straightforward, meaning something like "Then, when you decide to act, you must do it being sure to not be found out".

This got me wondering about how 「露見」 is different from 「発覚」, which I knew before finding out the first: Jisho defines them as discovery (of a plot, misdeed, etc.); detection; exposure and detection (of a plot, fraud, etc.); discovery; coming to light, which seems very similar, and Weblio too gives definitions which sounds very similar to me: 悪事や秘密などがばれること and 隠していた罪・たくらみなどが人に知られること.

I wasn't able to find anything conclusive, and the only thing I can think of, but I'm far from sure, is that 「露見」 means (can mean?) something involving a third part, like A found out something about B and reveals it to someone (as per "exposure" meaning on Jisho); while 「発覚」 doesn't have this implication, like A found something about B (and maybe they keep it for themselves) or that something comes to light somehow, not necessarily by exposure (as per "coming to light" meaning on Jisho).

Am I close? Do these two words differs significantly?

1 Answer 1


They both describe the same event "something concealed is revealed" and are mostly interchangeable for human activities. The only difference is that 発覚 stands in the outsider's perspective, while 露見 the insider's—that of who wanted to conceal it. However, it does not mean that you cannot use 露見 unless you are the hider themselves. The speaker can freely use it whenever they suppose that the fact is inconvenient for the hider, which is in practice mostly true. Therefore, they wouldn't make much difference except for the possibility to break the natural flow of sentences in limited occasions.

When they make real difference is, for example, the case below:

重大なバグが発覚した a critical bug is detected (by developers/users)
重大なバグが露見した a critical bug is exposed/leaked (to users)

A software bug is often "hidden" in a program, but no one intends it (by definition). In other words, when you are a software developer, you cannot postulate anybody behind it being unfound. Thus we can only say the former. The other one might have some usage when, say, a company hides a known bug for their benefit, but then you should say correctly against "concealing the bug" バグ隠し rather than the bug itself.

Edit: @goldbrick let me know that バグが露見 does return a lot of search results on Google. They mostly consist of situations that the service provider is motivated not to want people to know their product has a bug, such as: it involves security concerns, or easily exploitable in the MMO game, etc. They seem to be valid examples.

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    If I understand correctly, this answer states the difference between 発覚 and 露見 comes down to "lack of willful concealment vs presence of willful concealment, but I have some issues with this. Dictionaries are explicit in their inclusion of a "willful concealment" factor in the definitions of 発覚, and there is a general distaste for using 発覚 in situations where no apparent attempt to cover up is involved. (Online language pundits, true to form, are bemoaning and condemning the widespread misuse by the public.)
    – goldbrick
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 17:16
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    Similarly, デジタル大辞泉 has "隠していたこと" as part of its definition of 露見, although there doesn't seem to be as much attention paid to the word by usage experts, probably due to its relative uncommonness. But a quick google search turns up many uses, including those in the string バグが露見, that seems to deviates from this canonical meaning in the same way that 発覚 does (that is, uses in situations where no apparent attempt to cover up is involved) and would have gotten it as much opprobrium.
    – goldbrick
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 17:18
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    The main point: if one's position allows the noncanonical use of 発覚, shouldn't it also make the same allowance for that of 露見, given that it has some level of popular currency?
    – goldbrick
    Commented May 1, 2020 at 17:18
  • @goldbrick No, I didn't mean "lack vs presence of willful concealment". I was like, when a cat is out of the bag, 露見 sounds as if it's your cat, and 発覚 as if somebody else's cat. This kind of bidirectionality is often not conspicuous and clear-cut, as you can see in the usage of 募金 and 課金 (literally both from receiver's side), but when there's really no person (or agent) expected on the other side, the use is limited. That was my intention. Commented May 1, 2020 at 19:20
  • @goldbrick btw thank you for mentioning distaste about 発覚, I'll consider incorporating it into my answer if I find a good way. I think the cause and effect between the nuance of 発覚 and the "misuse" is rather reversed, since we don't see much such expansion for 露見. Your finding with バグが露見 is also great, I see some quite interesting context backup for that use case, so I'll try to add it later. Commented May 1, 2020 at 19:30

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