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I am confused about the differences between the following terms:

  • 心証を害する

  • 心証を損なう

  • 心象を害する

  • 心象を損なう

Based on my understanding, 心証 means the impression other people get from you. For example,「上役の心証を害する」means "give my boss a bad impression about me." I am wondering if 心証 can also refer to the impression I get from others.

What is the difference between「心証を害する」and「心証を損なう」? They seem to mean the same thing to me: "give others a bad impression about yourself."

I am not sure about the difference between 心象 and 心証. 心象 seems to mean a mental image inside your head based on the outward appearance of something? It can also refer to others' mental image, right? How it is different from 心証?

Finally, what is the difference between「心象を損なう」and「心象を害する」

If possible, example sentences with English translations would be very helpful.

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As this kotobank entry and the following J-E dictionary definition suggest, 心証 is usually used in the sense of a judge's conviction. Or more verbosely, a judge's impression about a case or people involved. It is close to 印象.

1〔判事の確信〕a firm [deep] belief; (a) conviction

2〔印象〕an impression

On the other hand, 心象 is a picture itself in someone's mind. It is static image free from evaluation. So 心象 is impression in the very literal sense - an image stamped on someone's mind. As such it never gets better nor worse. 心象を害する・損なう is simply erroneous.


As for 損なう・害する, I think 心証を害する and 心証を損なう are practically the same. 害する sounds explicit damage and 損なう more like 'diminished/impaired', so that 害する may be worse.

For usage in general, 気分を害する is a little strange phrase where the subject can be either offender or offendee.

  1. 彼は気分を害した.
  2. 彼は彼女の気分を害した.

He is the offendee in 1 and the offender in 2. In analogy with this, the subject of 心証を害する can be a judge, but it should be rare (usually a judge is the one whose impression is impaired).

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  • Thank you for the answer! So the similar logic applies to 心証を害する? Like in「彼は心証を害した」, 彼 is offendee and「彼は彼女の心証を害した」, 彼 is offender? Can 心証 also refer to my impression of others?
    – Jimmy Yang
    Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 7:30
  • @JimmyYang As I mentioned in the last paragraph, yes, 彼は心証を害した can mean He had a bad impression, but this is not very common somehow. Re: the 2nd point, 彼の心証はよくない is usually I have a bad impression towards him (or, in some contexts, his impression towards somebody else is bad. The ambiguity should be similar to English His impression is bad).
    – sundowner
    Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 9:08

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