I have seen these three characters forming the "same" words (I cannot think of a better way to phrase this), such as

惡夢 vs 噩夢


惡運 vs 噩運 vs 厄運

As I tried googling for the difference, I find different opinions on their meaning/usage – some argue that they are interchangeable; others claim that they are slightly different. Below is what I thought to be the best explanation I have found by far:

噩: 不祥.
厄: 灾难.
恶: 恶劣.

不祥不一定就会发生灾难, 但灾难必定是不祥的, 而这两者都很恶劣.

However, the explanation still sounds rather vague to me. In explicit, how do these characters differ in meaning/usage?

Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    jxteacher.com/zhaoxiaoli/column57436/… “恶梦”侧重梦的凶险、不祥,强调梦的内容;“噩梦”侧重梦的惊恐,强调心理感受。如“那场~至今难忘”,用前者为好;“我从~中惊醒”,以后者为宜。
    – Mou某
    Apr 19, 2015 at 7:30
  • 1
    360doc.com/content/13/0715/09/3918785_300060620.shtml 1、厄运 比较官方的语言 2、噩运 侧重不幸(凄惨)的命运,一般伴随着人的伤亡和疾病 3、恶运 不常用,指坏的运气,不一定是不幸的
    – Mou某
    Apr 19, 2015 at 7:35
  • 2
    I am a Chinese, but I can't tell the difference.
    – S.C.
    Apr 21, 2015 at 9:23
  • 1
    I'm a Chinese, I use "厄运" because this is the only one in my pinyin input method. and by the way, many questions here let me rethink if i'm really a Chinese.
    – Shiji.J
    Apr 26, 2015 at 3:01
  • 1
    [è] using 爱词霸、小马词典。顺便一提"汉语水平考试词典"没有"噩、厄"条目,只有"恶" 噩: 1. (形)凶恶惊人的。shocking ; upsetting compounds:噩梦、噩耗、噩运 variant of 厄运 厄: 2. (灾难;困苦) adversity; disaster; hardship 动1. (受困) be in distress; be stranded The fishing boat was caught in a storm. 渔船厄于风暴。 厄widely used for transliterating foreign names e。g。厄立特里亚 恶: <名> (很坏的行为; 犯罪的事情) evil ; vice ; wickedness <形> fierce ; ferocious ; bad ; evil
    – user6065
    Apr 28, 2015 at 13:25

1 Answer 1


Did you know? 厄 is a 象形字, a pictogram. It is said that about 4 percent of the characters in the Chinese are derived directly from individual pictograms, but most of the characters are pictophonetics.

厄 is akin to 困厄 or 遭遇困境, such as "being between a rock and a hard place," or being in difficult situation.

There's not much to say about 恶 really. In my opinion, it pertains to 凶恶 stuff, usually brought on as a consequence of one's own actions (akin to "karma") that unrelated to one's fortune (运程).

噩 is as other have described in the comments an adjective meaning 惊人的 or 可怕的; basically something frightening or shocking.

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