Appendix:Japanese glossary

A glossary of Japanese linguistic terms used in the body of this dictionary. see also Appendix:Glossary for terms not specific to Japanese.

Table of Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


  • Ateji (当て字) – kanji representing a sound that is not from the original phoneme associated with the kanji's used reading. Example: 寿()() (on’yomi is associated with Sinitic phoneme, but the word is non-Sinitic), ()(けい) (originally unrelated kanji ()(けい)). In some ateji, kanji is chosen to make it a phono-semantic matching, e.g. (おお)()().


  • Commonly used kanji – English translation of Jōyō kanji.


  • Daiyōji (代用字) - a kanji in the jōyō kanji or tōyō kanji list that is used to replace another kanji not in the list. The two kanji are usually homophonic or semi-homophonic.


  • Goon (呉音) - the kanji pronunciation before the arrival of Kan’on. One of the on’yomi categories. Goon is the earliest of all borrowed pronunciations, mostly used in Buddhist terms.
  • Grade n kanji – one of the grade divisions of the kyōiku kanji (educational kanji) ranging from 1 through 6. "Grade S" refers to kanji taught in secondary school.


  • Hyōgaiji (表外字) – kanji outside the jōyō kanji and jinmeiyō kanji lists; written in kyūjitai (traditional characters).


  • Jinmeiyō kanji (人名用漢字) – kanji used for names per official list, supplement to jōyō kanji. May mean either just the jinmeiyō kanji, or jōyō kanji and jinmeiyō kanji, meaning “all kanji on official lists”. Opposite of hyōgaiji.
  • Jōyō kanji (常用漢字) – commonly used kanji, per official list.
  • Jūbakoyomi (重箱読み) - pronunciation of a two-kanji compound, with the first kanji on’yomi and the second kun’yomi.
  • Jukujikun (熟字訓) – an unseparable native Japanese reading of a compound with more than one kanji, e.g. 今日(きょう). Also known as 義訓.


  • Kanji (漢字) Chinese characters that are used in the Japanese writing system.
  • Kan’on (漢音) - the kanji pronunciation brought to Japan during the Japanese missions to Tang China. One of the on’yomi categories. Kan’on resembles the contemporary Chang'an Chinese dialect, and is more systematic compared to other borrowings.
  • Kan’yōon (慣用音) - the kanji pronunciation derived from a corrupted or changed form of other regular on’yomi. One of the on’yomi categories.
  • Kun’yomi (訓読み) – The native Japanese reading (yomi) of a kanji character usually based on the original ancient Japanese word of that meaning.
  • Kyōiku kanji (教育漢字) – Elementary school kanji; literally, “educational kanji”. The elementary level of the jōyō kanji, divided into 6 grades.
  • Kyūjitai (旧字体) – Japanese traditional characters; literally “old character forms”. Opposite to shinjitai. Virtually identical to Chinese traditional characters, with occasional differences. Used for hyōgaiji and in pre-shinjitai texts.


  • Nanori (名乗り) – special kanji readings used exclusively in Japanese names. The nanori reading of a kanji is often a pronunciation assumed from its synonym or near-synonym.




  • Shinjitai (新字体) – Japanese simplified characters; literally “new character forms”. Opposite to kyūjitai. Used for all regulated kanji, meaning jinmeiyō kanji, including jōyō kanji.



  • Uncommon kanji – English translation of Hyōgaiji.


  • Yutōyomi (湯桶読み) - pronunciation of a two-kanji compound, with the first kanji kun’yomi and the second on’yomi.