My dictionary says that they both mean 'warm'. Is there any difference in their usage? Using Google picture search, the only difference I can muster is that 暖和 is used for cats and jumpers, and 温暖 is for the outdoor temperature. But then, I'm not too sure how the meaning of 暖和 transplants itself onto cats lol What be your thoughts?

  • see more detailed online dictionaries esp. bkrs: 温和 #5911 (1) [kindly; gentle; mild]∶不严厉、 不粗暴; 平和不猛烈 态度温和 (2) [temperate; moderate]∶冷热适中; 不冷不热 温和的地区 lukewarm 粥还温和呢。 The porredge is still warm. many more examples at bkrs 暖和 #12399 ① <气候、环境等>不冷也不太热:北京一过三月,天气就暖和了│这屋子向阳,很暖和。 ② 使暖和:屋里有火,快进来暖和暖和吧! (气候不冷) warm; nice and warm: 炉子一着,屋里就暖和了。 The room became warm when the fire got going. 天气越来越暖和了。 It's getting warmer day by day. (使暖和) warm up: 喝杯咖啡暖和暖和吧! Have a cup of coffee to warm yourself up. 杨大娘,过来暖和暖和。 Come and warm yourself, Aunt Yang. more examples (showing semantic fields) at bkrs
    – user6065
    Commented Mar 20, 2018 at 13:24
  • 温暖 is abstract, only used for some context, and used to state environmental feelings, and don't use for a specific thing in life. e.g. 加勒比海四季温暖, we don't say 我家很温暖。 Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 0:48

3 Answers 3


When it comes to climate and weather, 温暖 and 暖和 mean the same thing.

When it comes to people or emotions,we only use 温暖.

such as 他是一个温暖的人(What he did was so sweet) 你温暖了我的心(you comforted me ,i feel much better now)


暖和 pretty much always ONLY means physical temperature

温暖 on top of "physical warmth" can also be use to mean "emotional warmth" or "the warmth with human touch"

for example "it warms my heart" means 它让我觉得很温暖, you can't use 暖和 here, it would confuse readers.

so 温暖 can be used for both physical and emotional warmth, whereas 暖和 can ONLY be used for physical warmth.


温暖- warm; warmth; to warm

暖和- warm; nice and warm; warm and comfortable

Difference between 暖和 and 温暖

暖和 is strictly an adjective; 温暖 can be a noun, adjective or even verb


  • 室內很暖和; 室內很温暖 (both are adjective 'warm')

  • 送上一份溫暖 (溫暖 is a noun 'warmth')

  • 用熱水溫暖一下雙手 (溫暖 is a verb 'to warm')

Both 温暖 and 暖和 can refer to physical warmth; but 温暖 can also be used metaphorically for emotion of "warm feeling".


  • we say: "從未嚐過家庭温暖" (have never felt warmth of a family) not "從未嚐過家庭暖和"

  • we say:"內心十分温暖" (feel warm inside one's heart)not "內心十分暖和"

温暖 is more general; 暖和 is more specific, if you say 感到温暖, it can either mean you feel 'physical warmth' or feel 'emotionally touched' , while 感到暖和 can only mean you are actually feeling warmth physically

  • I think 用熱水暖和一下雙手 is OK
    – Ziyuan
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 22:22

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