So, I know that chinese has (at least) two common words for "Respect" - 尊敬 and 尊重 . Is there a clear way to divide the two ?

What if I wanted to say "Respect a teacher" or "Respect the law"


尊重 means respect; show due regard.

尊敬 means 尊重和敬仰 - respect and admire and is focusing on the 'admire' part.

In Chinese culture, people should 尊重 peers and younger generations; 尊敬 teachers and elder people.

As for the law, the most common word is 遵守 which means to observe; to obey; to follow (rules). You can also say 尊重 and there's the classical difference of 'respect vs. obedience'.

  • Does 尊敬 imply obedience as well? Like if I 尊敬老师 I also listen to what they have to say?
    – Stephen
    Aug 10 '14 at 2:41
  • 1
    @Stephen Language wise no but culture wise yes. In ancient Chinese, 'respect', as well as 'loyal' and 'filial piety', presume complete agreement and obedience. Time has changed and modern Chinese people do not believe in that 'blind respect' as much anymore but the word still carry that implication, more or less.
    – NS.X.
    Aug 10 '14 at 2:54
  • Would 尊重 not quite imply the level of obedience of 尊敬 ? like if I said 尊重张老师 would that have a slightly different connotation? One more of equals?
    – Stephen
    Aug 10 '14 at 3:02
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    @Stephen If you're native Chinese speaker and you chose to say that, people will think there must be a reason more than just 'I don't admire Mr. Zhang that much'. It's almost like saying 'I don't despise Mr. Zhang'.
    – NS.X.
    Aug 10 '14 at 3:11

"尊敬" is used for something really great. Say, you may "尊敬" a teenager donating one of his/her kidneys to his/her brother.

"尊重" is much more general.

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