Can 中央 mean middle?

I just got 中央 marked wrong because I put “middle” instead of “center” for the meaning. Could anyone please explain the distinction? Am I wrong or is Wanikani wrong?


WaniKani doesn’t list all possible synonyms by default. 中央 does seem more like “center” to me, just in how it gets used, but “middle” is a word you can add as a synonym and I don’t think anyone would argue it’s “wrong.”


Yes. Kenkyusha includes 中央の as “middle” and の中央に as “in the middle of” as meanings. Think of it like a “middle position” or “middle point” which aligns to the meanings of center/central.

Just don’t confuse it with なか which can also mean “middle”, but with more of a connotation or being inside or within something.


This link has a pretty decent variety of phrases so you can get a good feel around this middle/center meaning:


I think “center” is probably more accurate of a translation in my experience/feeling of how 中央 is used - usually the center of a place (city, room, etc).

However, thinking about it specifically in terms of how it should translate into English (or any other language I suppose) in my opinion isn’t a good idea. If you can just have the feeling of the word, that means you truly understand it. For this reason I recommend installing the ignore script, and when you get it wrong according to wanikani, ignore the answer and insert a synonym that works for you, or just insert the Japanese word in romaji.


So is middle. “Middle of the city”, “middle of the room” are all phrases I’ve heard many times.

In Kobe, there’s a 中央区, which sounds much better as Center Ward, than Middle Ward. Though people usually do just say Chuuou Ward


Sure, and you wouldn’t translate メキシコ中央, taken from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, as Middle Mexico, but it doesn’t mean middle doesn’t work in certain contexts.

Sorry I meant to reply to the thread and somehow replied to you specifically at first aha…
Anyway, I don’t necessarily disagree but middle just sounds more vague to me for some reason

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Looking at Merriam Webster, this is the first meaning of “middle”:

: equally distant from the extremes : MEDIAL, CENTRAL

That doesn’t sound that vague to me. :man_shrugging: Sounds very precisely defined in a geometric sense.

I think that regardless of whatever dictionary definition there is, there’s clearly a different feel and use to the two words. Anyway it’s not too important, I was just trying to give my intuition

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So then what word besides 中央 would you use to to say something like “middle of the city”? I’m genuinely curious as 中央 seems to be the only valid word for the situation. If there’s a better word I’d love to know it. @Leebo?


And to add, this isn’t meant to be argumentative. I really would like to know if there’s a better word to convey a similar meaning as that phrase. It helps me learn more.

This always trips me up, I’m trying to obey to the Crabigator and learn it how it’s teached, but it’s one item that always bounces around in Apprentice, Guru and Master. Same for both kanji and the middle radical.


The meanings that WK provide are not exhaustive. So don’t limit yourself only to them. Many words have different meanings in certain situations that WK does not cover.

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