What's the difference between “rei"冷 and “Samui” 寒い ?

Both mean “cold”, but when would you use one over the other?

Please explain by giving reference to the below examples:

  1. 冷凍用ビニール袋 (reitou-you Binīru fukuro)
    Freezer bag

  1. 寒いです (
samui desu)
    It is cold

1 Answer 1


Regarding the Kanji:

  • 冷 is for objects that are cold, such as drinks, food, or whatever object you can think of.

  • 寒 applies to the temperature around you or the atmospheric temperature, not to the temperature of concrete objects.

Also take into account user3856370's warning. 冷{れい} (rei) is not a word per se but it is usually a component of other words, whereas 寒{さむ}い (samui) is an actual word meaning cold (weather-wise).

If you want to use 冷 as an adjective, as opposed to 寒{さむ}い (samui), the word would be 冷{つめ}たい (tsumetai).

Compare both adjectives in the following sample sentences:

今日{きょう}は寒{さむ}い ! / (kyou wa samui! ) / It's cold today!

このビールは冷{つめ}たくて 美味{おい}しい ! / (kono biiru wa tsumetakute oishii! ) This beer is cold and tasty!

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