That Radical Feeling When a Fish Sticks in your Heart

So today I was doing a review and got the kanji 悩 (worry) from a few levels ago. I mistook it for 脳 (brain) and got it wrong. So I looked at the two to see what the difference is, and saw that one has a “fish stick” while the other has a “moon” radical on the left side.

Then I started to think about the various kanji I’ve learned with the “fish stick” radical and realized that they mostly have to do with feelings: 情(feeling), 忙(busy), 怪(suspicious), 怖(scary), 懐(nostalgia), 快(pleasant) and so on. That led me a little further to reading that the “fish stick” radical is actually modified 心 (heart), and suddenly all those kanji started to make more sense conceptually that they did with just “fish stick”.

Tthat led me to this page: which explains a lot more about the radicals and points out which ones are important clues to meaning.

Anyway, I’m sure all of this is already well known (and this all has probably been discussed before) by many of the studious types here, but I’m sure there are a lot of people for whom this information would be useful new information.

Hopefully in the Great Radical Overhaul, WK will attach more useful meanings to radicals, but for now, since although I make up my own mnemonics I’ve been using WK’s radical names, I’ll try to keep track (for those that lend a meaning) of what they actually mean.

Has anyone else had sudden OMG-that-radical-has-a-real-meaning moments?


I guess it’s a good time to mention that often the moon radical is actually a modified 肉. That’s why it’s used for body parts.

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It’s fairly common. 月 tends to show up in body parts, like 脳、胸、肺.
The water slide shows up in a lot of movement related kanji.

Mind blown twice in one day.

I guess it’s a good time to mention that often the pelican radical is actually a modified 示 or 衣.

Notice the additional stroke in the pelican.
示 (an altar, so something related to religion) → 社 (company, actually shrine), 祈 (pray), …
衣 (cloth) → 裸 (naked) 襟 (collar), …

[You can see more full kanji versions and their “radicalized” versions here: radical list]


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