In Japanese, there is no difference in definition between fun and interesting in their adjective forms. I know that fun also has a noun and verb form in English, but I am wondering is there any difference between "fun" (adjective definition) and "interesting"?

In all honesty, they appear to mean the same thing. Is there a time when you can replace one word with the other to have a completely different meaning?

EDIT: To explain myself a little bit more, interesting is defined as attracting your attention in Merriam Webster. When can something be fun and not attract your attention? In this sense, I feel as if fun encompasses interesting.

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    Which dictionary did you consult? Their definitions are distinctly different in the ones I checked. Dec 25, 2013 at 11:25
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    Interesting is closer in meaning to 興味深い, while fun is closer to 楽しい.
    – user28567
    Dec 25, 2013 at 11:45
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    @krikara I really don't think English interesting is a good match for 楽しい. Interesting doesn't contain the meaning "fun" at all; it is definitely not a subset of "fun".
    – user28567
    Dec 25, 2013 at 13:02
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    @krikara What is your native language, anyway? Your question and comments seem to rule out both English and Japanese.
    – user28567
    Dec 25, 2013 at 13:35
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    The apocryphal Chinese curse of "May you lead an interesting life" wouldn't be nearly as much of a curse if interesting meant the same thing as fun.
    – Marthaª
    Dec 27, 2013 at 2:57

4 Answers 4


The basic difference between the two is emotions it appeals to.

Fun is enjoyable. It causes pleasure - especially in active forms, as thrill, exhilaration, challenge, elation.

Interesting appeals to curiosity - learning, it's about things we want to know, see, learn, examine. Whatever reasons - be it for pleasure, or e.g. for professional interest or satisfying anxiety.

Since usually satisfying curiosity is pleasurable, these two are often correlated, but not always. A gruesome sight, say, bowels sticking out of a live person's ruptured abdomen, may be interesting, but definitely not fun. A secret document on enemy military movements will be interesting too, but definitely not fun. The pilot of a damaged airplane will definitely find the damage report interesting and absolutely not fun.

On the other hand, if you solved a hundred crosswords, solving one more may still be fun, but hardly interesting. Riding down a slide in entertainment park will be described as fun too - it may be interesting the first time, but then you're not curious about it any more, you just do it for fun. Being given unexpected presents is fun - but since you didn't expect them, you didn't have time to find that interesting.

  • Note "interesting" often is used in meaning "attractive", but that's a secondary, derivative meaning, while 'appealing to curiosity' is the main. Still, "finding same sex interesting" is not about research ;)
    – SF.
    Dec 27, 2013 at 3:09

I read this question, and because I was curious I Googled: "interesting fun in Japanese". In one of the results I read a Japanese speaker making similar observations:

The adjective おもしろい/Omoshiroi has basically two meanings. One is 'interesting', another one is 'funny', they are used in various situations. [...] so sometimes I confuse fun, interesting and funny in English.

In case I should say 'interesting', I say 'funny':(

I found that information interesting because I am unfamiliar with the Japanese language, and it seemed odd that two adjectives which are so distinct in my mother tongue; funny and interesting, could be largely interchangeable in a different language. It didn't strike me as being funny as I didn't laugh, nor did I smile.

For example, interesting facts are pieces of information that provoke ideas or discussion that otherwise might not have occurred. Fun, or funny facts on the other hand, are amusing pieces of information which cause hilarity, laughter and generally speaking, make you smile.

Often you can have facts that are interesting which stimulate witty comments and reflections, the BBC programme QI is a fine example. Click on any word in the info cloud and discover for yourself.

  • It's funny (and interesting) because certain things just don't translate over word for word. Then language dictionaries cause confusion when they simply translate word for word.
    – krikara
    Dec 26, 2013 at 9:31
  • A good monolingual dictionary will not only give you the definition of the word, but also examples of how to use them in sentences. Bilingual dictionaries, for want of space, might limit themselves by giving just the translation of word.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 26, 2013 at 9:37
  • I was trying to tie in QI with my answer, however, since it is also a "Quite Fun" show, I felt it would just make the answer confusing.
    – IQAndreas
    Dec 27, 2013 at 3:14

If something is interesting it gets and keeps my attention. The emotions I feel could be almost anything. An interesting book can make me sad, happy, or neither. When I hear stories about people who survived difficult times, it is interesting, but there is absolutely nothing fun about it.

Fun things will not make me sad. I will not be neutral about something I call fun. Fun is associated with happy, with enjoyment.

A book that makes me cry is probably a good book. I will say I liked it. We often find ourselves saying, "I really enjoyed that book... well, maybe enjoy is the wrong word. It was a very good book, but it was sad." This kind of book can be an interesting book to read. It is definitely not a fun book to read.


Although there are activities that can be both, fun and interesting have different meanings.

Fun means something brought physical or emotional enjoyment, perhaps it was an activity that got your blood pumping, or something that made you laugh. One often describes sexual intercourse as being "fun".

Interesting usually means something brought you mental enjoyment (or it captivated your attention). One could describe a good conversation with someone learned, or book about the ancient civilization of China, as "interesting".

Contrary to "fun", it is not a good sign if after intercourse your partner describes it as "interesting".

  • @krikara For some people, math homework could be very interesting but not fun at all.
    – user28567
    Dec 25, 2013 at 12:47

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