Using radicals to lookup words in jisho

I’ve been getting more into looking up words/kanji on Jisho by entering in the radicals. An issue I’ve been running into is I’m not sure how to translate my “Wanikani radicals” into “jisho radicals”. For example if I wanted to look up something that had 言 as a component in it. My first intuition was to enter that in… but I didn’t see that as a radical so I instead tried to enter the “mouth” one… but saw two different size mouth ones. Any tips with this? Thanks!

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Okay… that was actually a bad example; it turns out say is a radical afterall! Either way though, I have ran into this issue in the past.

Try going for smaller radicals, as you did with the “mouth” one! I’d say you’re on the right track already. Earlier, I would just count the strokes, which at the time was easier for me since I didn’t know enough radicals.

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In WK they’re both “mouth” but they’re actually two different Kangxi radicals. One is no. 30 (mouth) and the other is no. 31 (enclosure)


I don’t know any of the stroke counts, as I’ve been relying pretty strictly on WaniKani. Would it be worth memorizing them to assist with lookups, or should I just approximate? Thanks!

Ah, I use an app on my phone called Kanji Study to supplement… my… kanji erm study.

:stuck_out_tongue: That aside, it gives me drawing practise on screen, and I’ve done it almost everyday since joining. It forces you to do correct stroke order, so it’s really handy :smiley: Plus it’s quick and if you’re into paperless/cool tech/saving the planet stuff, there ya go :slight_smile:

Should’ve said “to supplement… my… pedagogy”

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… I’m… starting a Japanese language learning club at my school this term as a taster. So YES PLANTRON. IT IS ALSO FOR MY PEDAGOGY.

Jokes aside hehe, I’ll more be encouraging self-study and self-motivation plus disseminating free resources to the kiddos, only outright teaching things I know for sure (otherwise I’d feel irresponsible until I get better haha)


Drawing kanji into is usually faster and easier than radical lookup on Jisho. You don’t have to be very accurate, since it’s quite good at interpreting chicken scratch :slight_smile:


Just approximate is fine. There are some general rules as that will usually work out for stroke order. Once you know those and practice a couple kanji you’ll probably guess accurately almost every time. At worst you’ll be off count by a stroke, but it will still make radical based lookups much easier.

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I just approximate until I see it, as it’s hard to know that unless you can look up the stroke count in a dictionary.

Also remember that WK has made up some radicals that will not exist in any online dictionary at all. For those ones you will have to break the kanji down into radicals you do see in Jisho’s (or any other electronic dictionary’s​) dropdown.

A made-up radical that comes to mind is “corn”. Interestingly enough, you can’t copy the radical from the WK webpage. Looks like “potato” is another. I wonder if WK did this on purpose for made-up radicals?

Many of the made-up radicals can be copied

It’s because they’re pictures. They’re made up for mnemonics and to break the kanji into less parts only. (So you have only 2-3 radicals to remember instead of 5, for instance.)

“Saw” is definitely another made up one.

And even when you clearly find a real radical that’s in your kanji you want to look up, often the dictionary still won’t find it that way… For some reason even electronic dictionaries only attribute one main radical to a kanji, so sometimes you have to look it up a few different ways.

Do you find that google is better at interpreting hand-drawn kanji than I have had so much trouble with drawing kanji into jisho that I never even try anymore…

Yes, Google is MUCH easier than Jisho for interpreting hand-drawn kanji. Jisho’s drawing recognition is pretty terrible :-/

When I first studied kanji [mumble mumble] years ago, we barely had calculators so it was all dead tree look up. You learned the radicals pretty quickly through use.

You kids don’t know how easy you’ve got it with all these electronic gadgets! Now get off of my lawn! [waving cane]


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