The use of the word 熟語(じゅくご) in WK


#1

In WK, the word 熟語 is used to mean “kanji compound”, or, a word that is comprised wholly of kanji, and almost always uses the on’yomi pronunciation.
The other day in my Japanese conversation group I used the word in that spirit and confused all three of the Japanese people present. We got into it, and they explained, both in Japanese and eventually in English (I was having a hard time believing it) that the word 熟語 merely means “expression” or “saying”, as in 四字熟語. I asked for a word that meant what I thought 熟語 meant and none of them knew of anything like that.
So… is WaniKani misusing the word? Should the descriptions of vocabulary be changed if it is?


#2

Did you try looking at a dictionary?

https://www.weblio.jp/content/熟語

It means both a compound word (multiple kanji to make one word) and an expression (something made of multiple words (単語)). But calling both of those “compound words” in English seems fine, even if having “expression” as a synonym would be fine also, because of the ambiguity of the meaning of “word” as it relates to Japanese.

Additionally, 四字熟語 can also merely mean “kanji compound that has 4 kanji characters with no idiomatic meaning.” It doesn’t have to be a special expression. Ask the people who run the Kanji Kentei.

That might not be the most commonly understood meaning on the street, but it’s acceptable.


#3

Jisho lists it as a linguistic term, so maybe normal people aren’t too familiar with it.