At Guangzhou airport recently, I noticed that 空港 (kōnggǎng = literally "air port") was being used to mean airport. I'm familiar with 机场 (jīchǎng) being used for airport.


Question: Is there a distinction between 空港 (kōnggǎng) and 机场 (jīchǎng) which both mean airport?

  • 空港 is Japanese; 机场 is Chinese
    – Tang Ho
    Aug 12, 2017 at 5:23
  • 机场 = 空港. You could draw an analogy between 空港(airport) and 海港(seaport). It sounds to me that 空港 is relevant to goods shipping, while 机场 is the site where airplanes sit in.
    – dan
    Aug 12, 2017 at 6:30
  • 空港 is a direct translation of the word airport. 机场 is the short form of 飞机场, literally means flying machine (airplane) field, like 停车场: stopping-car field, 篮球场: basketball field.
    – xenophōn
    Aug 12, 2017 at 15:33
  • So many Chinese words are abbreviated form from other words, objectively speaking, some of them are not logical but Chinese people may not realize it. 机场 (a machine field?) is an sample word, also like 手电 (a hand electronics?) is short for 手电筒 (a hand-held electronic cylinder? so what is it in the end?), actually it is flashlight, 手机 (a hand machine?) is short for 手持电话机 (hand-held electronic speaking machine or hand-held telephone), actually it is mobile phone (移动电话 or 移动电话机) or cellphone.
    – xenophōn
    Aug 12, 2017 at 15:50
  • Though 空港 is a Japanese word made up with Chinese characters, I think it is more logical than 机场. 空港 (English style) and 飞机场 (Chinese style) are better word than 机场. 机场 is a inexplicable, unintelligible word, we are not aware of it for we are accustomed it.
    – xenophōn
    Aug 12, 2017 at 16:02

2 Answers 2


空港 is Japanese; 机场 is Chinese.

Japanese learned Chinese characters from China in ancient times. They called those Chinese characters 'Kanji'. Most Chinese terms retained their original Chinese meaning in Japanese. But the Japanese also coined some unique terms with Kanji that are not being used in Chinese.

The 空港 sign you saw in China was reverse imported from Japanese.


和製漢語 由於漢語也是因為19世紀時急迫需要翻譯西文,而大量從日本輸入新詞,大部分進入漢語的日語借詞都是日語中的「和製漢語」。舉凡「電話」、「幹部」、「藝術」、「否定」、「肯定」、「假設[2]」、「海拔」、「直接」、「警察」、「雜誌」、「防疫」、「法人」、「航空母艦」都是屬於和製漢語日語借詞。[3]。 要注意的是,並不是所有日語中的「和製漢語」都在現代漢語中通用,如「介錯」、「怪我」、「油斷」這類和製漢語詞都沒有進入漢語。

空港(airport) was in the group of 'Japan coined Chinese' that are not in Chinese vocabulary - until now.


空港 (くうこう) is a standard Japanese word, 机场 is a standard Chinese word. According to Xiàndài Hànyǔ Cídiǎn 7th Ver, which is a authoritative Chinese dictionary in Mainland China, 空港 isn't included.

In other words, 空港 is an unstandard and not-often-used word in Chinese, so that you'd better not to use it during comminication and you should not use it in Chinese examination host by Mainland China.

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