Tamago (卵) vs. Tamago (玉子): Meaning in Japanese

Tamago is the Japanese word for egg in English, represented as 卵 or 玉子 using Chinese characters or Kanji. 

When I think of the dish using Tamago, what comes to my mind right away is Tamago Yaki, represented using Kanji both 卵焼き and 玉子焼き. 

But the roe of fishes isn’t 玉子 but 卵, whereas the egg donburi, Tamago Don, is written as 玉子丼.

Tamago (卵) vs. Tamago (玉子)

Nama Tamago (Raw Hen's Egg)

玉子 (Tamago) and 卵 (Tamago) both mean egg, but many people don’t know how to use these words.

Then, what are the exact meanings or definitions of 玉子 and 卵 in Japanese?

卵 (Tamago)

This Tamago can stand for any egg/roe, including inedible, that hatches and grows. This one has biological meaning.

玉子 (Tamago)

On the other hand, this Tamago usually only stands for edible birds’ eggs, except for raw hen’s egg, which generally uses 卵. Ex. Nama Tamago (生卵), Tamago-Kake Gohan (卵かけご飯).

(Reference Pages: JA Zenno Tamago, Macaroni )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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