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I would like to know what does あえて exactly mean: to dare to do sth (like 思い切って)? On purpose (like わざと)? Another meaning?

In jisho.org, seeing the definitions and example sentences, it supposedly means 1. to dare to / 2, on purpose, but on the Internet I've found sentences where these two meanings don't match, like this one: 「ごめん、あえて終電逃した。」

If translated:

"I'm sorry, I dared to lose the last train."

Or

"I'm sorry, I lost the last train on purpose."

It doesn't make much sense to me.

Or for example, in this another sentence: あえて電気をつけるほどの暗さではない。(It is not so dark as to turn on the lights.), what function has あえて?

Could you please tell me how many meanings has あえて and give me an example sentence for each meaning?

Thank you so much in advance for your help!

  • Depending on the context, あえて終電逃した makes perfect sense. What is the context? – Jimmy Aug 13 at 18:38
  • It has no context. I found that sentence in this site: nihongonosensei.net/?p=6908 - sentence (14) – Rick Aug 13 at 22:09
  • Without context, I assume it is from some romance novel or manga. This line is used often (but w/o the あえて) as a person uses missing the last train as an excuse to stay at a lover's apartment. In that context, this line makes sense. – Jimmy Aug 13 at 23:30
  • あえて 電気をつけるほどの暗さではない」could be rephrased as「 わざわざ 電気をつけるほどの暗さではない」 – shingo.nakanishi Aug 13 at 23:33
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The most common meaning of あえて is 'dare to' whereby someone expresses some kind of desire while acknowledging there could be some adverse consequences.

部長はあえて社長に反対意見を述べた。The department head dared to express his opposing view to the company president.

It can also have a nuance of 'force myself to do something'. Your example is in line with that meaning.

あえて電気をつけるほどの暗さではない。It's not so dark as to have to bother myself with turning on the light.

As for あえて終電逃した, the context is needed. Is it someone defying an order to get the last train, for example? Maybe it's an apologetic husband who 'dared' to stay out drinking late or something. It depends on what came before it.

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  • Thank you so much for your answer! About the sentence あえて終電逃した, it has no context. I found it here: nihongonosensei.net/?p=6908 - sentence (14) – Rick Aug 13 at 22:01
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As for the explanation, I think the description on the page you are referring to is sufficient.

(Please list the pages you refer to in the question, not in the comments)

「わざと」「わざわざ」「あえて」の違い | 毎日のんびり日本語教師

本来する必要のないことを意図的に行う点は「わざわざ」と同じですが、「あえて」の場合はそれをすると何らかの困難や危険が伴います。しかし、それでも本人はそうするべきだと思っているときに使います。

困難や危険とは、それをすることによって他人の反感を買ったり、非難されたり、あるいはそもそもその動作やりにくいなどです。  自分の考え方や主張が強く表れる表現です。

Here's the most important part:

  • それでも本人はそうするべきだと思っているときに使います
  • 自分の考え方や主張が強く表れる表現です

Here's the difference between わざわざ and あえて:

  • 「わざわざ」と同じですが、「あえて」の場合はそれをすると何らかの困難や危険が伴います

It is unlikely that there will be any danger in turning on the lights in our daily lives. So あえて 電気をつけるほどの暗さではない is more natural for わざわざ 電気をつけるほどの暗さではない.

If you're using あえて, the situation could be a cave or something, and you might be risking your life in some way because of the brightness (e.g., being attacked by a monster that found the lights)

(Even if it's not so dangerous, though, sometimes it's あえて instead of わざわざ. I think it's a pretty small case. For example, maybe he(or she) thinks that getting up from his(or her) chair to turn on the lights will shorten his(or her) life span a little bit.)

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  • Thank you so much for your answer! – Rick Aug 14 at 10:09
  • @Rick thank you. If the issue is resolved, please approve it. The approval does not have to be mine. – shingo.nakanishi Aug 14 at 12:53

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