Same words with completely different meanings

Japanese is a somewhat complex language, and at the same time simple and easy. One thing that for us who speak English may seem strange is the countless identical words that exist in the Japanese language. In English there are similar occasions, like shirt sleeves or fruit sleeves. But in Japanese it actually happens over and over again, in thousands of words, this is one of the main reasons kanji exist. In this article, we're going to look at some of these words, but we're just going to look at the ones with different kanji and the same meaning, not to mention the same words with multiple meanings.

I'm going to quote only pronunciations that have more than 3 different meanings, and I'm not really mentioning the most well-known ones, because it's not easy to select, I'm just giving some examples.

Romaji Word 1 Word 2 Word 3
Ame 雨 - Rain 飴 - Bullet 編め - Knit, braid
Jinshin 人心 - People's heart and feeling 人身 - Human body 仁心 - Benevolence
 Jisho  地所 - Earth, terrain, soil  辞書 - Dictionary  自署 - subscription
 Kika  帰化 - Naturalization  気化 - Vaporization  奇禍 - Accident, disaster
 Muchi  無知 - ignorance, stupidity 鞭 - whip, stick 無恥 - boldness
 Oku 億 - one hundred million, astronomical number 奥 - interior, bottom 2 - noblewoman's wife, lady 屋 - roof, house roof
Kami 髪 - Hair Deus - God 紙 - Paper

Seika is one of the pronunciations that has many different meanings, using different kanji.

  • 正価 - Fixed Price
  • 成果 - Result, fruit of work
  • 製菓 - Confectionery, candy making
  • 青果 - Fruits and vegetables
  • 生家 - Place of birth
  • 聖歌 - Liturgical song
  • 盛夏 - Midsummer, summer solstice
  • 声価 - Reputation

Of course, I mentioned just a few examples. If you take a Japanese dictionary almost every page you will find one or two words with the same pronunciation, but with kanji and totally different meanings. The purpose of this article is just to show how challenging it can be to learn and understand Japanese.

I couldn't separate the most used words, I took it randomly from a dictionary. It may seem difficult or strange, but at the same time I practice. Thanks to the context of the conversation, it is unlikely that we end up confusing a word, especially in reading, kanji help a lot. Only the coexistence with language makes you think this is extremely normal.

It also reminds us of why Japanese names are the same, and has a lot of different meanings. We must not forget that some of these words can be pronounced in different ways, so it is good to learn kanji.

Is that you? What words do you end up mistaking for being the same? Comment here, help to increase our list of words.

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