The 4 types of human emotion, 喜怒哀乐, seem to be 3. What difference do you see between 欢喜 and 快乐?

欢喜:欢乐心喜
快乐:欢乐。指感到高兴或满意

  • 欢喜 - delight / joy | 快乐 - happy / cheerful – user3306356 Jun 15 '17 at 0:07
  • 100 samples for each at jukuu – user6065 Jun 15 '17 at 0:15
  • 1
    欢喜 is a little bit outdated now. In 喜怒哀乐, 喜 is milder than 乐. 喜 was used to depict Spring and 乐 Summer. 人生有喜怒哀樂之答,春秋冬夏之類也。喜,春之答也,怒,秋之答也;樂,夏之答也;哀,冬之答也。 – Barry Jun 15 '17 at 0:43

喜 delight; pleasure
樂 happiness; joy

If you do not know the difference between 喜 and 樂, you can realize it from their antonyms.

It is pretty often to use two opposite words together in a Chinese phrase. For example, (天地)玄黃, (天地)良心, (陰陽)怪氣, (陰陽)交錯, (緩急)(輕重), (緩急)相濟.

It is the same case in 喜怒哀樂. There are two pairs of words here, which are 喜怒 and 哀樂. Since the question mentioned 喜 and 樂 of 喜怒哀樂, let's just focus on this phrase. The antonym of 喜 is 怒 (anger), and 哀 (sorrow) is the opposite of 樂.

I think you certainly know the difference between anger and sorrow, then you should know the difference between 喜 and 樂.


「喜怒哀樂」的出處:《禮記·中庸》

天命之謂性,率性之謂道,修道之謂教。道者也,不可須臾離也;可離,非道也。是故,君子戒慎乎其所不睹,恐懼乎其所不聞。莫見乎隱,莫顯乎微,故君子慎其獨也。 喜怒哀樂 之未發,謂之中;發而皆中節,謂之和。中也者,天下之大本也;和也者,天下之達道也。致中和,天地位焉,萬物育焉。

《中庸》第一章

上天賦於人的氣稟叫做性,順著本性去做叫做道,修明道的本末無偏私,就是教化。這個道是片刻不可離開的啊!如果可以離開,那就不是正道了。所以,君子在人看不到的地方也要警戒謹慎,在人聽不到的地方也常惶恐畏懼。沒有比隱暗處更顯現的,也沒有比細微處更顯著的,所以君子在獨處時特別謹慎。喜怒哀樂的感情在沒有發動前,叫做中;如果情感發出後都合乎節度,叫做和。中,是天下事物自然的本體;和,是天下人人共行的道路。能夠完全達到中和的地步,天地便可安居正位,萬物便可順遂生長了。

  • If you look in ce.linedict.com they often give antonyms, which is useful. For 喜 they give: 哀,忧,悲,怒。 For 乐 they give: 悲,哀, 苦,忧。 你为什么觉得‘喜’只有‘怒’为反义词? – Pedroski Jun 15 '17 at 22:10
  • ‘喜’,‘乐’都和‘鼓‘有关。 – Pedroski Jun 16 '17 at 23:23

Not much. They are pretty much the same in meaning. If there is any slight difference, 喜 is like smile while 乐 is like laugh.

But usage is a different matter. People use different words to express same thing under different situations.

我很快乐, not 我很欢喜

欢欢喜喜过大年, not 快快乐乐过大年

I'm a native speaker of Chinese. I would like to explain the difference between "喜" and "乐" in English, but it's only my own opinion and the usage of English words may not that accuracy.

The background you need to understand is how Chinese language user usually express their emotion. Most of time, we prefer not to show our emotion in a directly way. So, you can say a person is adultness with "喜怒不形于色"(you don't show joy or anger on your face).

In general, "喜" is a more inner emotion in one's mind like joy, while "乐" is the emotion you show to all people around you like happy.

  1. If someone is "欢喜", he feels delight because something he looks for is achieved. It's an activity in his mind and he can choose to show it with smile or not.

  2. If somesone is "快乐", it expresses that he is so happy that he can't hide it and he would like to show it out. It's a stronger emotion than "欢喜".

Also, "欢喜" is a formal word usually used to writting article, "快乐" is a casual word used in both oral and written Chinese.

If you just want to know the meaning of 喜, and 乐 in 喜怒哀乐,the root will tell you everything.

喜 : the word original mean something you prefer/desire. The word then later extend to anything that brings joys.

  • 喜欢 :like something;
  • 喜好 : hobby (some personal activities you desire)
  • 喜庆: festival/celebration

乐/樂 : glyph shows a person handle some instruments. Meaning then extend to something that cheers you.

For example, listen to a joke will cheer you up。 For example

  • 读到了那则消息, 他心中大喜。
  • 读到了那则消息, 他心中大乐。

Both carry the different meaning. The first sentence showed the person is pleased. The second sentence indicated the person feel joyful.

OTH, 欢喜 and 快乐 are not appropriate to use to distinguish 喜 and 乐. Because the usage of 欢喜 evolved over time, it can mean cheer, joy, happiness, delightful.

You may read something like this 她很得祖父母的欢喜, here. You cannot translate it to "She is the favorite grand-daughter" without reading the context.

In addition, when related to Buddism context like 皆大欢喜, it means delightful or satisfied instead of happiness. 

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