Vocabulary that doesn't use any the the kanji's reading

Hello all,

First post on WK, I’m new here.

I’m a bit confused as I thought that a vocabulary was made of one of the multiple reading of the Kanji it is made of (on’yomi or kun’yomi).

I just stumble across the vocabulary 下手 (unskillful) that as a reading of へた. Those reading (へ and た) are nowhere to be found in the readings of the the two kanjis 下 and 手.

So most of the time the vocab uses the readings of the kanjis, but sometime not at all. Am I correct? Is there a rule here?

Thanks a lot!

I can’t remember what those kinds of words are called, but it’s a fairly common phenomenon. Many of these words that don’t follow the individual kanji readings are incredibly common. At first this can be annoying, because it can be hard starting off. But because they are so common, you’ll also pick them up over time. Two other really common examples are 今日きょう and 昨日きのう.


They’re called 熟字訓, if I’m not mistaken.

@ the OP, make sure to be aware of the context when you read those compounds in the wild, too. I know you’re probably talking about the WK vocab, but 下手 can also be read differently in other contexts (like しもて).


Few more examples will come soon, usually very basic and old words:
one person (alone), two people, adult, today, tomorrow. Two-kanji combination, when you just need to memorize the reading of the whole word, not trying to get individual parts.

Here is Leebo’s video on 人, the part about 大人:

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