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I've come across 星人 and 宇宙人 for describing aliens. What's the difference in the meaning of these words?

2 Answers 2

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星人 is never used alone. It is used with specific names of planets like 火星人{かせいじん}(Martian), 金星人{きんせいじん}(Venusian), or ナメック星人. It means the habitants of a particular planet. FYI earthlings are 地球人.

On the other hand, 宇宙人 usually refers to (extraterrestrial) aliens and is used by itself.

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    Piccolo approves this
    – jarmanso7
    Oct 19, 2022 at 15:55
  • I'm not saying Wiktionary is infallible but they disagree with you for Japanese and Chinese has the idea of 外星人 as a general term for extraterrestrials. 宇宙人 comes from Chinese and basically means 'spaceman'. Never used for humans in space in either language though?
    – lly
    Oct 20, 2022 at 7:58
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    @lly It says this: This term is most often used in conjunction with a planet name.. At least I've never seen it used alone. As for 宇宙人, it normally doesn't include humans. Some people may argue that we are 宇宙人.
    – sundowner
    Oct 20, 2022 at 10:23
  • I read the page I linked. It disagrees with you. Ja.wikipedia.org also strongly disagrees with you. (In particular all the Ultraman characters use 星人 as kind of suffix or base meaning 'alien' without the first bit needing to actually be the name of a planet.) Your answer is ticked but seems patently wrong, pending edits to temper your claim that it's never used alone or must go with planet names. I don't have enough karma to downvote it but people should until it's more accurate. There's also the separate term 異星人, which we might as well gloss here.
    – lly
    Oct 24, 2022 at 13:15
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    Another more vulgar use of 星人 as a suffix is in the phrase おっぱい星人.
    – rjh
    Oct 25, 2022 at 19:10
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for a more accurate calling of aliens is 外星人

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  • This is literally the Chinese for extraterrestrial (waixingren, outer-spaceball-person). First, is it used identically in Japanese and is similarly common? Wiktionary doesn't know about a Japanese use. Second, is there any additional context to this versus the other Japanese term 宇宙人?
    – lly
    Oct 20, 2022 at 7:55
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    Also, if you can provide a better answer than sundowner as to how the two terms the user provided are different, let them know.
    – lly
    Oct 20, 2022 at 8:03

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