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The act of assigning kanjis to words that ignore kanji's meaning is called 当て字 (ateji), and that has a long history. According to Wikipedia article on 当て字, this was very common in the past because the language used to rely on Kanji/Hiragana boundary to help distinguish nouns, verbs, etc from particles. The article is full of great examples like 珈琲, 滅茶苦茶, and ...


I'm just basically going to summarize the references from user3169. Until now I've never known that フケ can be written as 雲脂/頭垢. I don't think either form is common in ordinary use of the language, as it is normally written in Katakana. But at the same time they are clearly recognized well enough to be on Wikipedia. According to 語源由来辞典, 雲脂 is 当て字 that most ...

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