I just noticed that 昆 is now supposed to mean “insect” (because it came up in a KameSame review, and I was quite certain I never learned a second Kanji with that meaning after 虫). I swear when I learned (and burned) 昆, it still meant “descendant”, but now that meaning is no longer even a synonym. That had me quite confused. I had to look it up in a dictionary to be sure I wasn’t imagining things.
I submit it would be less confusing to the user if, when the main meaning of a Kanji is changed, the former meaning is at least kept as a synonym. Even more helpful, I suppose, would be a comment to the effect that the primary meaning was recently changed …
The funny thing is that if you look at dictionaries in both Japanese and Chinese, the meanings of 昆 are
‘descendant’ (Japanese, not Chinese)
‘elder brother’ (both)
It’s only ‘insect’ in association with 虫, as in 昆虫, and even then, it’s 虫 that carries the meaning, not 昆. I mean, I guess 昆虫 is by far the most common usage (EDIT: OK, no, 昆布 probably is, but 昆虫 should be fairly common), but technically, the chosen meaning is wrong. It should be ‘many’ in this case.
Even more fascinating the very root meaning from etymology seems to be debated ! From what I can see some website describe the bronze character either as people under the sun or as the picture of the body of an insect
I was looking at 大辞林, which lists ‘many’ (数が多い) with the same example. Thanks for the link! The Chinese dictionaries I went through don’t seem to contain the ‘insect’ meaning, but I guess we can say that 昆 is fairly closely associated with 虫 in usage at the least, even if it has other meanings.
I don’t know much about the etymology, but most of the Chinese sources that pop up on Google Images seem to use the ‘people under the sun’ explanation. It could very well be something else, because the oldest character in the list doesn’t really seem to contain the usual symbol for 人. (Then again, maybe the version I know is from a different script used in another time period.)
Funny enough, it seems that the meaning in the Tsurukame app did not get changed. I just recently learned this kanji via the app with the old meaning ‘descendant’. Now, I struggle to review it on wanikani.com, as I never came across the new meaning. Would be great to have both platforms in sync