Most Common Readings (Stats)

TLDR: When you can’t remember the reading of a word, say こうてい. Or かえる, if it ends with る :wink: I’m of course joking, but these are the most common vocabulary readings:

8 words are read こうてい : 皇帝 肯定 公邸 工程 行程 校庭 高低 公定
8 words are read かえる: 代える 返る 帰る 変える 替える 換える 蛙 孵る

I ran a script on my entire vocabulary (~12k words), to find the most common readings. I thought this might be interesting to share :blush:

852 readings are used by at least 2 words.
163 readings are used by at least 3 words.
42 readings are used by at least 4 words.
18 Readings are used by at least 5 words. They are:

こうてい (8): See above
かえる (8): See above
たつ (7): 立つ 建つ 経つ 断つ 絶つ 発つ 裁つ
かく (7): 角 書く 各〜 核 描く 欠く 掻く
かける (6): 欠ける 掛ける 懸ける 駆ける 賭ける 翔る
かん (6): 〜間 缶 勘 〜貫 冠 棺
かた (5): 方 肩 型 片〜 潟
(5): 市 死 〜氏 詩 嗣
かい (5): 貝 〜回 会 〜階 甲斐
こうし (5): 講師 行使 格子 公使 子牛 (though technically different)
こうとう (5): 高等 喉頭 叩頭 高騰 口頭
はく (5): 履く 掃く 吐く 伯 〜拍
さく (5): 策 裂く 咲く 割く 柵
たいしょう (5): 対象 大将 対称 対照 大正
しめる (5): 絞める 占める 締める 閉める 湿る
こうせい (5): 構成 更生 恒星 厚生 公正
とうき (5): 投棄 陶器 登記 冬季 冬期
せいさん (5): 生産 清算 精算 成算 聖餐

こう sticks out as a very frequent on’yomi here. If I run the script on individual Kanji, こう is indeed right at the top, with 53 Kanji having it as the primary reading:
工口公交光考行向校高好功港幸喉叩候構効絞康攻航更購皇降紅講抗香甲項鋼孝鉱貢硬溝孔拘慌巧后耕肯郊恒稿洪衡酵坑.

Runner-ups are:

しょう (44): 小少勝消章商賞証渉詳省訟障招昇症照傷承紹醤将昭償称唱衝床焦鐘井庄粧掌奨彰晶召祥尚昌匠肖礁. And there are 12 more kanji that have しょう as a secondary reading, for a total of 56.
かん (39): 間漢感館完関干官観看幹管環慣巻監乾韓鑑簡歓換患刊還勧艦肝缶勘喚陥貫寛冠憾款敢閑
(35): 子四止市仕死姉思私氏支使試始指詩士司詞史資姿師施視刺志誌枝祉至旨紫諮脂
(33): 気記期器季希基紀危喜祈汽機企鬼規奇綺寄旗既貴揮伎岐棋嬉棄飢騎輝軌忌
そう (31): 早走相送争想僧総層捜創騒掃倉操装痩葬奏双喪挿壮燥聡遭荘槽蒼曹藻
とう (29): 刀当東投登等倒統討凍盗党糖豆踏闘逃透到筒塔棟瞳灯陶唐騰搭悼
(27): 下火化科家仮歌課果可加過価菓河暇華貨嘩稼架渦瓜佳嘉禍寡
せい (26): 正生西青星成整性政静制勢製清精請盛聖姓誠凄斉誓征牲逝
けん (26): 研県験建険嫌権件検健券憲剣献遣懸圏謙兼喧拳賢軒顕絹倹

54 readings are used by 10 or more Kanji.
Only 60 readings are “unique” (only used by one Kanji): I find some of these easier to remember, like みゃく (脈), うつ (鬱), or ねい (寧).

I did this because I’m struggling with listening comprehension: When I hear something like こうてい or せいさん, I ask myself “which one”? I’m sure that goes away with lots of practice, but in the meantime here’s a good explanation why it’s hard :grinning:

Anyway, hope you found this interesting :blush: Here are the CSV files with the full stats, if you’re interested.

10 Likes

It does depend on your definition of “word” to a certain extent. Many dictionaries would regard the かえる of 換える, 替える, and 代える as the same word with different nuances expressed by the kanji.

But it’s true that even if you merge those, there are a lot of things that can be read as かえる.

3 Likes

wow! nice work. i often wonder about reading frequencies when i study. nice to have the numbers.

thanks for sharing!

Now do English meanings.

“To shake” has to be right up there.