I was doing my routine Anki review when I saw 愚痴 listed under common words containing 愚. This got me asking: what is the difference between 愚痴 and 文句? I browsed the internet and found these two links:

「文句」「愚痴」「悪口」の違いを教えて下さい explains--with a disclaimer that it was their personal opinion--that 文句 is used when one is complaining about something unspecified. (Yet, I don't see why 「このタレント嫌いなんだよ」 counts as unspecified when it could have been obvious who's being referred to if the one complaining and the one listening to the complaint are both watching TV at that time.) On the other hand both 愚痴 and 悪口 are directed towards someone in particular, with the difference being that the content of 愚痴 has some basis and is something that those who hear it can easily agree with, while 悪口 is something that has no basis and is something that borders somewhere between complaint and defamation.

What's the difference between complaints 不満 不平 文句? differentiates various expressions of complaint or dissatisfaction, including 文句 which is one of the words in question. The accepted answer mentions that 文句 is a general term that covers a wide range of meaning, from complaint to disapproval.

Both of these references have been helpful, but are there other differences that these questions weren't able to cover?

2 Answers 2


愚痴 refers to some negative remark about your job or anything you're doing. Importantly, it's not addressed to someone who is actually responsible for the matter at hand. For example, when someone talks to his family how much he dislikes his boss or client, that can be called both 愚痴 and 文句, but perhaps the former tends to be more informal, unorganized and nonconstructive. (The Chiebukuro question says 特定/非特定, but I think that's not relevant.) If you said this directly to your boss or client, that will be considered as 文句 but not 愚痴. (By the way, 苦情 is something that is formally addressed from outside to someone in charge. 文句 covers both 愚痴 and 苦情, but the opposite is not true.)

悪口 refers to derogatory remarks in general. Righteous complaints are 苦情 or 文句 but not 悪口. Unlike 愚痴/文句, you can say 悪口 even if you are not involved.

Basically you cannot make 愚痴/文句/苦情 if you're not involved in the matter, but the level of "involvement" is somewhat subjective. For example, when someone speaks ill of a celebrity they just saw on TV (e.g., "Oh she is ugly"), that's a 悪口 but not a 愚痴/文句. But if someone went through an entire TV drama series and was disappointed at the last episode, they may make 愚痴 or 文句 (or 苦情 if they emailed the TV station).


愚痴 corresponds to English whinging, whining, grouching, and moaning.

文句 is complaining, or fussing.

悪口 covers criticism, insults, etc.

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