Reading ambiguous words in hiragana

I’m finding myself often reading some words wrong when they are in hiragana. For example, there is this sentence:
Link for reference:太い

I did not know what the word めん meant, so I looked it up, and the first response I got was “cotton”.
I then proceeded to read the sentence as “This store’s cotton is thicker than I expected”, which made sense to me, but then after hovering over the answer, it reads “This shop’s noodles are thicker than I expected.”

I’ve learned now that めん can mean a lot of things such as cotton, face, noodles, page, and side. But in the context of reading this sentence, the only hint given is that it is something sold in a store, so it seems difficult to correctly guess the meaning. This is just one example, but a similar thing has happened on a bunch of other vocabulary. Is this something you just have to accept when the writer does not use kanji?


The thickness of noodles is a very typical thing to be able to choose when you are ordering. It’s an important characteristic of noodles. People order noodles all the time. They don’t usually order raw cotton, or any other kind of めん in stores.

It’s true that there can be ambiguity in hiragana words, but this kind of sentence will be resolved with experience. Almost no Japanese natives would find that sentence ambiguous.

EDIT: Just to expand some more. Cotton has other words that are probably a bit more common, like わた (the cotton plant) and もめん (the fluffy stuff you take off the plant). It still wouldn’t be common to buy those in a store, but just talking about cotton, you probably would use those words. Cotton cloth would be もめんのきじ or something like that.

When you listed face, page, and side, those are all basically the same word in Japanese, 面, just with different nuances expressed by translating them differently. As stated above, it’s not something you’d typically buy in a store, or discuss the thickness of after having done so.