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Osoreru is a native Japanese word meaning 'to fear'. In Chinese characters, it's normally written . It is also used in the polite expression osore-irimasu, which means 'excuse me' or 'pardon me'. (Using an expression of fear for politeness may sound somewhat over the top, but few people stop to consider that English also uses fear to convey an apologetic tone in the expression 'I'm afraid that...').

The following example uses the character expression :

Osore-irimasu ga, mae-kin de o-negai-itashimasu.
Please pay in advance.

As with many Japanese verbs, however, it's quite common to use hiragana in preference to Chinese characters.

Osore-irimasu ga
Tonari no reji e o-mawari kudasai

Please go to the next counter

Bōryoku-dan o osorenai, kane o dasanai, riyō shinai
Bōryoku-dan tsuihō sengen no mise
Sugamo Keisatsu-sho / Sugamo Bōhan Kyōkai

We don't fear gangs, we don't pay money, we don't use gangs.
A premises declaring the expulsion of gangs
Sugamo Police Station, Sugamo Anti-crime Association

A simple Google search turned up the following distribution for osore (using the verb form osoreru would probably come up with different figures).

No. of occurrences

The two bottom forms use different Chinese characters to express different nuances of the word osore, namely 'terror' and 'concern' respectively.


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