Alternate Readings for Vocabulary 臭い?

Hey all! First I want to say I’ve had a blast with WaniKani this past 7 or 8 months and learned way more than I thought I would at this point, but I think for the first time I’ve just stumbled upon a vocabulary word that has a different reading that isn’t listed in the system.

I’m using a few other resources for learning Japanese at the moment, mostly Genki and Duolingo, and just today I learned that “におい” was a noun meaning “a smell”. I searched for it on and found that while it’s usually written using hiragana, technically it has two kanji with different connotations. 匂い is used for good smells, and 臭い for bad smells. So when I got the vocabulary “臭い” as an adjective (read as くさい), I thought I could also put the reading for the noun, but I was marked wrong as that’s not in the system.

As far as I know, there’s no way to add readings to vocabulary or kanji, right? I guess the next question would be: is this word/reading worth adding if it’s not usually written using kanji? There are plenty of other vocabulary words that are more commonly written with hiragana that are taught in their kanji form, so I was kind of surprised that I found one myself. (I also see that “匂い” is in WaniKani at a later level, but there’s also no mention of the “臭い” form there as far as I can tell.)

While I’m making a thread on the topic anyway, I’d love to hear of any other instances of this you may have found!


That’s interesting.

Personally, I had chosen to assume that WaniKani presented only some of the readings for the kanji. So, I’m glad to see my assumption is correct.

As far as whether it’s worth adding or not, I’d say that WaniKani’s primary reason to exist is two-fold: (1) Teach the meanings of kanji, and (2) Teach the common readings of kanji.

Thus, my opinion is that it’s worth adding if and only if it’s a common reading without furigana. Otherwise, if it’s unusual to come across a kanji with a specific reading, the effort might not be worth it.

P.S. I realize some kanji in WaniKani have been added that are not common readings, but I suspect that they’re likely “common enough” in some sense.

臭い is often written in kanji, both for the におい reading and the くさい reading. You just need to know from the part of speech / context which reading and meaning to use. Unfortunately WaniKani doesn’t have a way of handling multiple “versions” of a word, so they just picked one. The important thing is that you learn the correct reading to its corresponding meaning.


I’ll also add that you should check whether or not 臭い read as におい is actually an acceptable jouyou reading, or just a convention used in manga and novels n’ stuff. If wankani included every random convention the lists of readings for kanji would be nigh endless

It has its own dictionary entry in native Japanese dictionaries.

This isn’t talking about the kanji, though, this is talking about the word. And 臭い can be either a noun read におい or an adjective read くさい (although with the same base meaning, of course). They probably teach this one as くさい because that’s the only way it can be written in kanji and then teach におい as 匂い because that’s the only way that 匂い can be read as well as being (I assume) the main way of writing におい


If you were to re-read what I wrote, then you might catch that I was taking some common shortcuts used when talking about kanji and words. Yet, the entire time, I was speaking with the question of adding the word in mind.

The conclusion that I came to is this:

Thus, my opinion is that it’s worth adding if and only if it’s a common reading without furigana. Otherwise, if it’s unusual to come across a kanji with a specific reading, the effort might not be worth it.

The “without furigana” part, I had hoped, would have well enough implied that I was referring to the word. The second part of the statement is meant to expand the conclusion I took to similar situations for other kanji and words.

It totally does, though that alone doesn’t do much to say whether or not it’s an “official” reading. That said, I just checked the list of “official” jouyou readings, and におう is totally included, so it seems Wanikani should likely just update the item

Here’s a handy list of the jouyou kanji in case you’re ever curious:

Sometimes very common conventions, such as 停める as とめる still aren’t a jouyou readings and so can’t be used in official text.


Well, I can tell you that I’ll certainly remember the reading and meaning for the vocabulary as presented here after spending all this time thinking about it. It’s just too bad that I’ll remember it as a result of putting an acceptable reading for the word in the absence of context!

I’m certainly new to the world of Japanese, but there are definitely some words included here that I’ve seen countless times in their kana form and never once in their kanji form (成る, 有る, etc), which is why I was kind of surprised that I encountered a kanji form of a relatively common word that didn’t show up here. Either way, it’s more of an oddity that I found than a complaint.


Wow, that’s a great resource, thanks!

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I think you might be misunderstanding what jouyou readings are. Earlier you said:

But those are not the only two options. Something being “jouyou” just means it’s taught in school and while it might also act as a loose guide for when to spell something in kanji or kana, that is often ignored. Non-jouyou kanji or readings appear in books all the time, so even if something isn’t jouyou it is often still worth learning. And I think using the word “convention” gives the impression that it’s not a “real” reading for the kanji when it typically is.

Also, in case you were wondering, native Japanese dictionaries do actually indicate if a reading is non-jouyou by putting a symbol next to the reading. Since the entry for 臭い (におい) doesn’t show that symbol, it’s jouyou, as you already discovered.


By the way, you probably shouldn’t be marked wrong for using a valid reading since they don’t give you enough context during reviews. @Mods is it possible to catch when someone answers with におい for 臭い and warn them that WaniKani wants the い-adjective and not the noun, rather than just marking them wrong?


Nah, I got jouyou down, i prolly just talked dumb.
My point is, that 停める in a news paper will never use that kanji, even though it is almost always used by normal people via texting, blogs, books, manga, etc. to clarify the difference between parking vs stopping a car.
I wasn’t saying wani Kani shouldn’t include the におい reading, I just thought I’d throw the jouyou possibility out there as I thought maybe for some reason that could be wani kani’s reason for not including it. Now I’m just perplexed why it’s not already included. The word is common enough and it’s an “official” reading.

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WaniKani just doesn’t have a way of fully supporting two “versions” of a word, where there are two sets of meanings and readings, but you can’t mix-and-match them. I suspect they went with くさい simply because they already had 匂い for におい. Hopefully they can at least catch when someone answers with the unexpected reading as I mentioned above.


Yes: I suggest the OP to write to wanikani asking that these other acceptable meanings be whitelisted.

Definitely, it could use the “correct, but not the correct we’re looking for” jiggle.


I did reread it - I reread it then to make sure I was in the right thread and not a kanji one that popped up earlier today, and I reread it now, and you were just talking about kanji. Kanji and words are not the same thing. Sure, sometimes a word can be a single kanji and nothing else, but that’s often not the case. Whatever, you can continue pretending they are, I’m too tired for this

I’m just here to mention that while にお is indeed exclusively used for bad smells, にお can actually be used for either good or bad smells and is definitely the more common spelling of the two.

かお is only used for good smells, however.


I just sent a message directly to the WaniKani team about this. Good idea :slight_smile:

Ah, thank you for the clarification! ありがとうございます!

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I agree that it should be a jiggle and not a full-on correct answer (and of course not a full-on wrong answer either) because they are trying to teach you that specific reading for that kanji.