A 直 Madness

Why does a single kanji have so many different entries in Jisho? So far, there is usually one entry and then several with hiragana attached to it. Is this normal? And why do none of them have the “Fix” meaning that WK gives?

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Of the 7 uses I have learned on WK, 5 of them directly use the meaning fix.


Kanji are not words, and the sooner you realise that the better. It’s easy to get confused on that because kanji are kind of presented similarly to words - you write them a certain way and they can have a meaning and a pronunciation, sounds like a word alright. But kanji are not words.

Kanji are a writing system, words can be made up of one or more kanji. These kanji may be associated with a certain meaning related to that word, but are not always (寿司 for instance has nothing to do with a “longevity boss” or “lifespan director” if you’re going by WK’s entries). When a word is written with only one kanji, it will sometimes, but not always, have the meaning that kanji is associated with, or some of the often multiple meanings.

The kanji 直 can semantically refer to fixing or repairing, but the worddoes not mean “fix”. Likewise, the kani 生 can refer to life, but the word 生 means raw, fresh, etc. - not life.

It’s pretty much the same as how the letter E can refer to electricity or electronics. An e-bike is an electric bike. An e-guitar is an electric guitar. I’m sure you can figure out what an e-piano is from there. But the letter E does not mean electricity. It’s just the letter E, and in some words we associate it with electricity. Kanji are just a more elaborate writing system with more meanings associated to the characters.


The more vocab you learn the more you will understand. I think I have 3 or 4 different words for sky now, all a different contextual meaning. It’s one of the things I love most about Kanji.

Think of it like the word live. Which way did you say that in your head? In the context of a living person, or the context of going live?


If you get to reading, you would understand. After all, Kanji choice, and whether or not to use Kanji, does matter. Also, whether the author decides to put in Furigana or not.

On some levels, it’s better to know vocabularies well, more than Kanji of choice.


Thanks, guys, for all your answers ^^
Special thanks to you, @yamitenshi. I hadn’t thought of Kanjis that way. As you say I was thinking of them as words. I’ll take your advice and start thinking of them as components that can sometimes be a word in itself, always based on context, I am guessing.


It’s definitely a confusion a lot of people end up with - I know I did for quite a while :smile: I think it could be taught a bit more explicitly that kanji aren’t words so much as there are words made up of just one kanji.

This is where knowing vocabulary and being familiar with Japanese on the whole comes in. Kanji are never used as “just kanji” as part of a sentence (well, except when referring to kanji I guess, but that’s gonna be obvious - similar to spelling something out or saying “the letter A” in English), that’d be like expecting a Q you see somewhere in some English writing to not be part of a word but just the letter Q for some reason.

If you encounter kanji in writing, they’re always part of a word. Whether that word is made up of more than just that kanji is something you’ll get a feel for as you learn more Japanese.


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