Making own radical names

I am currently at level 2 and some of the radical names dont seem to work for me. My question is that if I make my own radicals names, will it hurt me later down thr line or will it be ok?


Radical names are used to make mnemonics for kanji. If you change the radical name you will have to come up with your own mnemonics for kanji later on,


I think it’s worth it to keep on trying a little longer, for the reason prouleau explained. If they still don’t stick at level 5, then it could be good to change them for yourself.

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For me the WK radicals didn´t work as well unfortunately, so yes you can make your own. You just need to keep 2 things in mind:

  1. Some of the radicals are actually real kanji themselves, so learning a custom meaning for them is kind of awkward when you encounter them later on.
  2. Obviously the meaning mnemonics of the kanji that use these radicals would be rendered useless (bypass this by making your own mnemonics).

As @prouleau mentioned, it might interfere with the WK mnemonic system, but for some of them it might be worth it in the long run as long as you pick names which are closer to their original meaning. Bare in mind though, that some radicals only exist on WK and were broken out from kanji as common elements, but they’re not “official” radicals (I know, debatable term in itself).

I myself am not very fond of absurd mnemonics in general and the phonetic mnemonics don’t work for me at all. But since you’ve just started, it might make sense to just keep going for now :slight_smile: . If you later notice that some WK radicals are outright misleading to you, feel free to change them.


I guess I’ll stick with them for a but longer then. Thanks for the help


You can, but like what the people above have said, you’ll have to make up your own stories for that uses your altered radical names.

Personally, I started creating my own radicals once I got to Level 30 because it became very hard to picture the radicals with the names given by WaniKani. In the lower levels though, I think most of WaniKani’s radicals make sense.

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The alias function is there for a reason. You can put in any nonsense you like and, so long as you recognise the radical and what you want to call it when you see it in a review, it’s all good. Don’t worry about doing things the WaniKani way, make the system work for you.

I thought narwhal was dumb, so I just called ナ na. They want the radical 田 to specifically be rice paddy, I’m calling it rice field. 氏 is clan? Its first kanji use is family name, it is family now.

The name is arbitrary, the meaning is what matters.


It might be an idea to maybe make up your own mnemonic for the radical instead. It could be that that’s actually what’s not working for you, not the name.


Thar might be it. I’ll try that. Thanks

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a lot of people add synonyms and make their own mnemonics but i find that indeed, it hurts down the line so i only do that when i just cannot “see” it.

you’re on level 2 so you’re on a steepest part of the learning curve. i would spend more time on lessons and really tell the story aloud if you can and gesticulate and “live” through it. this will commit the mnemonic to your memory. i smile, cringe, recoil, look disgusted, laugh and do all sorts of gesticulating when i read the story and this is actually what comes back to me, esp after the longer SRS intervals.

give it a shot with the method as it is, i think it’s a lot less work in the long run and boy is the run long…

I had to change the radical for “geoduck” into “head” because geoduck didn’t work for me. But a lot of kanji with the “geoduck” radical have to do with the head and I’ve seen the radical referred to as the “head” radical, so it worked for me.

If you’re having trouble visualizing some of the radical names, maybe my dinky little MS Paint drawings will help?

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