Is Trying to Memorize Every Definition Before Progressing Bad?

I’m currently working through level 10 of WaniKani, and wanted to post a question regarding how I’ve been working through the levels. I’m rather self conscious about my level up time, not embarrassed but more of concerned at what it’s currently pacing at. On average, I tend to level up every 20 ish days, which compared to everyone else posting about it, seems to be less than optimal. Since I’m only level ten, I sorta want to speed up my pace a bit more. However, the reason for my bad pacing is because I only let a kanji/vocabulary get the green if I can memorize all of the definitions/readings when I look at it. If not, I tend to type an ‘f’ or ‘っ’ to make the kanji/vocab register as wrong. Is this a bad thing to go about doing? Or should I approach it in a different manner, such as in only memorizing one or two of the definitions? I’d appreciate to hear you guy’s thoughts on this! :slightly_smiling_face:


The main issue with this is that often not all of the definitions are equally worth memorizing. And WaniKani doesn’t really attempt to drill down on the possible nuances associated with various meanings.

So while I understand the concern with possibly not learning an important meaning, attempting to memorize all meanings for all words seems counterproductive.


Yeah, that makes sense. So would you say I should just memorize the first one or two different definitions, and then learn the others as I work further into WaniKani? Or just not at all, if they really aren’t that important? I just wanna find a good pace I guess, since right now I don’t feel like I’m going fast enough lol

I guess first, it’s important to recognize that there are two kinds of alternative meanings.

In one case, the Japanese core meaning is the same, but we use a variety of different expressions in English when we say that thing. For various reasons.

In the other, there are legitimately completely separate Japanese meanings.

I’d say it’s not a bad idea to at least be aware of all the possible Japanese meanings, even if you don’t memorize them.

I would give a lot less time to all the possible ways of saying things in English, because that’s a lot messier, and often the distinctions in English don’t align with Japanese anyway.

That’s how I would start.

Once you are capable of using a monolingual Japanese resource like a regular dictionary or kanji dictionary, you can confirm things like that for yourself.

A site like can show you the list of meanings for a kanji in Japanese.


I wouldn’t worry too much about extra definitions/synonyms/readings. If they’re commonly used or important, WK will typically teach them to you via future vocab. If they aren’t that important but still kinda common, you’re going to learn them in your studies anyway.

Also, try not to compare yourself to others who post their level up speed. Typically only the top 1% fastest WK users are seen posting about their speed. This seems to be a common pattern, seeing lower level people who get discouraged by those posts.

The issue I’ve seen plenty of people run into is trying to go too fast, getting slammed with reviews, then quitting. Or, feeling like they are too slow and giving up.

There are tons of people who take 15, 20, 30 days to level. It’s completely normal and if you feel like you’re learning, just try to enjoy the journey!


Others have already given really good advice, so I’ll just chime in a tad.

Don’t feel embarrassed about your speed. Going faster than you are comfortable with is a good way to get burned out and that’ll cause you to stop and make less progress overall compared to just going a bit slower. If you’re enjoying your pace then no need to force it.

Specifically with learning everything about the kanji/vocab… My first goal is to just get through WK and then reset and go through it again in more detail if I feel I need to (like differentiating readings and stuff like that). So that’s always an option if you just want to move a bit quicker and not feel like you’re missing out. I will say there have been some kanji that I didn’t even see the other reading until a new vocab item 10~15 levels later, so I would say for the most part you should just learn all the readings of a kanji eventually just using WK vocab, so it may even be more efficient that way.

However, like I said just feel what is best for you. :smile: Good luck on your journey!