I always add context to my flashcards and use different sources to find suitable ones from high-quality bilingual dictionaries. Kenkyusha offer examples for 白雪{はくせつ} but not 白雪{しらゆき}. I know some words in Japanese words do have different readings but the same meaning, and in such cases I just take sentences from one entry and use it for another. However, in Daijisen I see that 白雪{しらゆき} means "very white snow" while 白雪{はくせつ} is defined as "white snow". This can of course be seen as splitting hairs, but my question can be boiled down to:

Is there any actual difference between the two words and would a native Japanese know which of these two readings was in the author's mind? The example sentence I'm thinking of is:

白雪をいただく山 : a snow-capped mountain

1 Answer 1


There is no essential difference in meaning when translated into English (I don't know why one of them has "very"). Still, as is the case with many other pairs, しらゆき tends to sound poetic or "soft", whereas はくせつ tends to sound technical, serious or "hard".

I would probably read 白雪 in 白雪をいただく山 as はくせつ in serious mountaineering documentaries, but しらゆき in fairy tales, love songs, etc. 白雪のような肌 is almost always しらゆきのような肌, and 白雪姫 (Snow White) is always しらゆきひめ.


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