They both mean "specimen", right?

Am I right in assuming that 見本 is for goods, products on sale but 標本 is for zoological samples, etc.?

I checked the sample sentences on Weblio just to check the usual collocations and here's what I found:



3 Answers 3


見本 is something that has a value being similar to the "real thing" that you can get otherly. Most times in daily life, this is what we expect specimens to be. It thus is not necessary to be an instance of "real things", such as specimens of banknotes or food.

It also has a meaning "good example (for you to imitate)" (= 手本).

標本 is, conversely in some ways, something that has a value being a factual evidence that other things are also like it. For example, a zoological specimen is actually not a "typical example" of that species, but the "definition" itself, where another individual is judged whether being the same species by comparing against it (for this reason, a common species' scientific name is occasionally forced to be changed when they find out the alleged specimen is not identical to what they intended). A boring sample of earth, a moon's stone, and a set of statistical questionnaire data are not "imitation", but actual primary sources for researchers to understand what the whole other part of reality (which is hard to obtain) is like.

We use the loanword サンプル in the same way as English too, but it can often mean 試供品 (freebie or demo).

Specimen for testing is yet another problem: 試料 (or 試験片, 供試体 etc.) in engineering fields and 検体 in medical.


標本 refers to lifeforms (plants, animals, fishes, insects or sometimes even humans) or natural materials (rocks, meteorites, etc.) that are preserved and used for scientific purposes.

見本 refers to product samples, test products, dummies or mockups that are used to show how the real/final products look like. It may or may not be fully functional (書籍の見本 may have blank pages if it's for checking the bookbinding). It also means the same thing as 手本 ("examples for practice").


The meaning of 標 in this compound is "show", whereas 見 means "view" (source: スーパー大辞林). So though both could be translated to "specimen", 標本 emphasizes the species or type whose characteristics are shown (e.g., a botanical specimen), whereas 見本 emphasizes the viewing or examination of those characteristics (e.g., a commercial sample). Indeed, 見本 would usually translate best as "sample", rather than "specimen".

  • 2
    A urine specimen is never called a 見本 (It's 検体).
    – naruto
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 2:54
  • @naruto Deleted, thanks. Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 2:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .