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Both terms mean "harassment". I tried to find out the differences by searching the Internet, but beyond this short Q&A in English:

いやがらせ means harassment.

いじめ is more serious harassment than いやがらせ. いじめ is done by group members, like classmates.

I just found resources in Japanese talking about it. I tried to go through those resources (see this and this) but I only could grasp that いやがらせ is for particular actions and いじめ seems to be more serious and a general situation of harassment rather than a single harassment act itself. Is this the difference in meaning between these words, or am I missing something else? Could you provide some example sentences that help to understand each word better?

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  • Heh, the title really reminds me of the question format on HiNative ;)
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 2:54

2 Answers 2

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I think you get it mostly correctly. いじめ is an extreme instance of いやがらせ, e.g., as suggested by the following:

嫌がらせ:学校において、特に嫌がらせの相互関係になりやすいのは生徒(もしくは後輩)である。生徒間同士の嫌がらせでは「仲間はずれ(仲間はずし)」や、「無視(シカト)」などがあるが、もっとも多いのが「いじめ」である。

What ultimately distinguishes 嫌がらせ and いじめ would be the perception on the bullied side, but いじめ usually means a group of people harassing a single person in longer term.

On the other hand, 嫌がらせ tends to mean individual instances of causing nuisance to someone. An example of 嫌がらせ that cannot be really an いじめ is something one does towards a larger organization. A person may dump a garbage at the front of a company for whatever the reason. This is an 嫌がらせ of the person to the company. However extreme this gets, this cannot be an いじめ.

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虐め is referring to long-term abuse (a harsh and serious one)

example:

彼女は虐められたことが原因で心に傷を持っている

嫌がらせ is a kind of teasing and less severe

example:

彼は自分の上司に嫌がらせをしたいと思っている

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