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Another pair of homonyms with similar/identical meaning. A dictionary check gives me this:

濱 (1) 水邊。如:「河濱」、「海濱」、「她喜歡在湖濱散步。」 (2) 靠近。如:「濱臨」、「濱海公路」。

瀕 (1) 水邊。如:「河瀕」、「江瀕」。 (2) 臨近、迫近。如:「瀕臨」、「瀕危」。

This isn't very helpful since the definitions of the two characters are almost identical (including some of the examples). However, I do think that 瀕 is more often used in sense (2): 瀕臨,瀕危,瀕於 and so on, and that 濱 is more used in sense (1): 濱海,濱河,濱江. Some quick google checks seem confirms this.

Hypothesis: From a practical, modern point of view, they mean the same thing, but there is a preference for 濱 in the sense of being close to water and 瀕 in the more general sense of being close to something (even something more abstract).

Is this correct? Can these characters be used interchangeably, even if there seems to be a preference for one over the other in certain situations?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

On this page there is long explanation, but the summary that 濱 is more used when 濱 has the role of a noun (examples: 水~︱江~︱河~︱湖~︱海~), and 瀕 is more used when 瀕 has the role of a verb (examples: ~江︱~湖︱~海︱~绝︱~临︱~死︱~危︱~于, 东~大海).

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Aha, that makes more sense. Sometimes using Google can be misleading. :) That explanation partly overlaps with what I wrote, since meaning (2) above should be mostly verbs. –  Olle Linge Oct 14 '12 at 6:35
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