Express- er, I mean Surface- n-no, Chart! (WK VS. Jisho Inconsistencies)

I was jisho’ing some words today for the book I’m reading and discovered an anomaly. WK teaches the kanji 表 as “express”, but Jisho says the meanings are “surface, table, chart, diagram” (see WK and Jisho).

What’s going on here? Does Jisho simply not list that meaning even though it may be valid? What are the official meanings? I’ve discussed this with some friends, and I know translation is never a precise science, but I would have thought that the Jisho definitions were pretty reliable. I’m just curious to know the truth behind 表 and how it came to be that “express” was chosen as the meaning.

Footnote: I know that many vocab words involving this kanji connote some form of expression, but if anyone has any other knowledge or opinions on it I’m all ears.



I can’t speak intelligently about this at all. But, there is this:


Where’s that, Jisho?

That would suggest the verb meaning was chosen as the meaning, and it does show a clear distinction between the verb and the lone kanji… which WK also does in most circumstances. That’s very interesting, thanks for the input :smiley:

The Shirabe Jisho iOS app. Midori has basically the same entry as well.



But as one might notice from these entries, you can’t really define a kanji outside of how it’s used. It means express because it’s in the word express because it means express. You know?


I need to stop being so lazy and switch to the Japanese dictionaries. They are so much better :expressionless:


Most English-Japanese online resources use the same freely available databases as each other. How they display the information and which exact combination of resources they use are usually the only differences. So taking them as evidence of a consensus probably won’t be all that effective, since the core material is probably literally the same.


And especially if you’re starting out I would recommend ones maybe tailored towards younger schoolchildren. They won’t be as expansive but oftentimes the definitions will be somewhat easier to read.

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I generally agree. However, my take on WK so far has been that there’s a distinct effort made to distinguish the kanji itself from the vocabulary it’s used in. I think I’m getting confused because of Jisho’s tendency to describe kanji by the lone vocabulary word they can be, rather than WK’s method of showing a on’yomi or kun’yomi reading paired with the concept of the kanji :thinking:

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The iPad dictionary I have has as the third definition for the kanji:


There is also this…vocab for the kanji in question has the synonym of surface among other things.

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I like kanjipedia for kanji meanings. It’s the online kanji dictionary made by the people who run the Kanken.

They have あらわす as meaning #2 on their list.


Yeah, WK teaches the vocab word similarly to the word for 表 listed on Jisho. But the kanji page on Jisho doesn’t list “express” at all as far as I can see.

How do native Japanese people describe these kanji? If I remember rightly, it goes something like "表 (ひょう)from 表 (おもて)? If natives only describe kanji by the words they appear in, maybe this is a moot question after all.

Here’s an example for this specifically:


So if I understand that picture right, the concept of taking the kanji and labelling it “express” doesn’t even apply - but it doesn’t really matter as far as Japanese is concerned?

There are two ways:

  • say in which word it appears, as you said
  • describe the radical and parts that appear in it. (In this case you could use 主 and 衣, I guess)
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Huh? Did you not read the 3rd entry and its example of 表現 which means expression? Express is a perfectly cromulent meaning.

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I don’t think I can convey my thoughts coherently anymore (also it’s almost midnight here).I get what you’re saying about the third meaning though. If it’s any consolation I do think this has helped quell my confusion :sweat_smile:


Hehe no prob. Glad it could be of help. This why adding in a native dictionary can be beneficial in your studies.

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I’m fast coming to that realisation.

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