Looking at jisho, it seems that 愛しい can either be pronounced いとしい or うつくしい or かなしい. Am I right in assuming that when it is pronounced うつくしい, it has the same meaning as 美しい(beautiful), and when it is pronounced いとしい, it has the same meaning as 愛しい (beloved), and when pronounced as かなしい, it means 悲しい(sad). For cases when it is pronounced as かなしい and うつくしい, what's the difference in directly using the kanji 美しい and 悲しい against using the kanji 愛しい?

Addendum: The word 愛しい seems to have drastic difference in meanings. From beloved, to sad, to beautiful! I am assuming it's main meaning is really beloved rather than the other 2?


1 Answer 1


In modern Japanese, 愛しい is almost always read いとしい and means "lovely", "beloved", "dear", etc. You can safely forget the other readings (and meanings). My IME does not even convert うつくしい/かなしい to 愛しい.

Actually, in archaic Japanese, かなし and うつくし did mean "lovely". I vaguely remember I learned them at high school many years ago, but this knowledge is virtually useless when you read modern Japanese text. (As an aside, かわいい (かはゆし) meant "embarrassed", "pathetic" or "pitiful" in old Japanese. There are many similar examples.)

If I encountered 愛しい【かなしい】 or 愛しい【うつくしい】 with furigana in a modern novel, I would simply be confused first, and then guess the intended meaning purely from the context.

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    If I saw something like that in a manga I'd assume it was one of those weird deliberate wrong/double-meaning furigana things that show up sometimes, as opposed to a real archaic reading.
    – ConMan
    May 1, 2020 at 4:55

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