Why did I just learn two kanji for "reason" back-to-back?

I just got to level seven, and one of my first lessons contained two kanji that both mean “reason”.

Neither have any synonyms or explanation for how they are different.

What’s the story?


Because together they make りゆう, which is the most common word for “reason”.

This is one of the common ways to construct vocabulary in Japanese, with two kanji that share the same meaning.


Oh boy, you’re in for some fun. Just wait until you get 87 ways to say “law/rules.” English has this stuff too, you need to absorb as much writing in context as possible and you’ll start to see when and why to use each one.


But yeah, there’s no reason to assume that each kanji has a unique meaning shared by no other kanji. Loads of kanji have the same meaning as each other, with little to no distinction. I guess usually they’re not taught in the same level though.

I guess another example I can think of is 飢 and 餓 in level 48, which both mean starve and make the word 飢餓 (starvation).


Just wait until you learn about 20 different ways to say mixed or mixed in or to be mixed in.


Yes…this times 9000.


This is a bit different though, because 理 and 由 are hardly ever used alone as vocab words.

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You’re going to have a ton of fun with all the different words/kanji for value! :wink:

Edit just to add that I am currently learning two kanji with the meaning “stab” at lvl 26.

Oh boy, ok…thanks everyone!


Level 23 has 3 kanji meaning “judge”. That’s gotta be some kind of record. But you only learn two of them back to back. The third you learn after guruing the radicals.

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English has more synonyms than any other language on Earth by far! WOOT!

wait till you have to learn 光栄 (こうえい:honor) and 栄光 (えいこう:glory)。
I still mix up the two.



I have no idea how this helps, but it feels relevant.


haha relevant but no it doesn’t help.

Jisho gives glory as another definition for 光栄… synonyms are a blessing from :crabigator:

Also, if you look at a monolingual dictionary you’ll see 大きな名誉 as a definition for 栄光, which is “a big honor”.

People fret about the English for those too much. Just learn what they mean in Japanese.

2 kanji with the same meaning that make up a word also with the same meaning is a joy!

I guarantee that within a few levels you’ll be adding synonyms to help you remember kanji/vocab using the same method.

Both kanji have their main translation as reason in WaniKani, but if you look them up they have different nuances of the meaning.

理: logic, arrangement, reason, justice, truth
由: wherefore, a reason

  • The first (理) talks about human reason, a rational cause that made you behave in a certain way.
  • 由 is more about cause and effect, for example, you put ice in the sun and it melts.

There may be similar meanings, but originally the inventors of the kanji or their compounds had different ideas to create them.


omg, i am on this lesson right now and it is awful.

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According to JMDict 光栄 can mean both honor and glory, feel free to add some synonyms. Most people will be hard pressed to explain the difference, anyway.

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