Main definition for 器 kanji

The definition we learn for the 器 kanji is “container”, but I think it would be better for us to learn it as “tool” or “instrument” (with container maybe as a secondary definition, if at all). With the exception of the vocab word 「器」 itself, pretty much all the vocab we learn uses it more in the sense of a tool. The meanings of all of these are immediately obvious if you think of it as tool/instrument.

器用 - dexterous - good at using tools
楽器 - musical instrument
食器 - eating utensils - food tools
兵器 - arms/weapons - soldier tools
電子機器 - electronic equipment - electron machine tools
加湿器 - humidifier - add damp tool

Pretty much all the way down the list the meaning “tool” fits much better than “container”.

And there are plenty of kanji that we learn where the meaning we were taught for the kanji differs from the meaning of the vocab containing only the kanji. I can’t think of all of them off the top of my head, but 約 comes to mind.

I have a hard time arguing that they shouldn’t teach the primary meaning in the kanji lesson. Can you make an argument for “tool”? Sure.

Even “internal organ” as a meaning probably appears at about the same rate as “container” (2 times).

But even if I wouldn’t argue with someone who chose “tool,” I feel weird telling them that the primary meaning is what they shouldn’t go with.

Also, looking at the list, I’m a little surprised 容器 isn’t taught. That’s a very common word.

I see that point, and I’d agree if it weren’t for the other kanji that they do this with (I should compile a list). It’s similar to why they teach the most common reading for each kanji, instead of always learning the kun’yomi or on’yomi. They tend to teach us the most common meaning.

And I feel like 陶器 probably does have the meaning of “container,” though “tool” wouldn’t be a stretch for it either. So it’s maybe not うつわ alone, and with the notable omission of 容器, that should be 3 words taught with that meaning, if we were being thorough.

Why don’t we get some of the words where it means “talent” in there as well, like 器量 and 器才.

EDIT: Though at the end of the day, I imagine all of these meanings came from the original “container” meaning. A container is really just one of the simplest tools you can have. And internal organs are your bodies tools. And the “talent” meaning is metaphorical.

After all this searching for other kanji that they did this with, I only found two (because I can’t think of how to search it other than scrolling through the whole list of vocab).

約 - k: promise - v:about/approximately
表 - k: express - v:front

Why don’t we get some of the words where it means “talent” in there as well, like 器量 and 器才.

You can definitely see the “talent” meaning in the dexterous and clumsy definitions, but it wasn’t a small stretch for me to connect them to tools.

I’m not sure I see the connection with 約. Yes, 約 (with the vocab meaning that WK teaches) is not the same as the kanji meaning taught. But the primary meaning of 約 is promise, and 約 as a solo word can mean promise.

It’s just not used that much (relative to something like 約束), so they took that as an opportunity to teach the meaning of “approximately” for the vocab word.

Huh, I was not aware of that. That makes sense.

I think one where they really need to change the meaning they taught is 以. They teach “by means of” but they they literally teach no words that use the “by means of” meaning. Such a word would be 以て or 以心伝心. But all the words they teach use the “from” or “since” or “compared with” meaning.

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Thank you so much! The 以 words have been some of my leeches! That makes so much more sense.

I noticed that a while ago when I got fed up of all my 以 leeches and sat down to work it out. I was pretty annoyed because I’d always found the kanji meaning difficult to remember, and then it turned out to be irrelevant to all of the example vocabulary anyway.

I guess I should send an email.

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I think my 以 has a user synonym attached to it, let me check… Yeah, I used “compared with”. Though nowadays, tend to think of it as “relative to”. “By means of” never made any sense to me, at least not with the vocabulary taught here.

Anyhow, thanks for the thread! I could never figure out why all those words had “container” attached to them, now I do. I figure WK should include it as a secondary meaning at the very least to clear it up.

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