For example, うなずく has 3 Kanji as follows.

  • 頷く
  • 首肯く
  • 肯く

Why can this single word have 3 Kanji?


1 Answer 1


The reason for this is related to how Kanji were taken from Chinese. See this link for more information.

As time passes, which Kanji are used commonly and for which connotations may change. For example I haven't seen "首肯く" commonly (it doesn't come up in the conversion list when I hit space bar), but "肯く" is more common.

Also, in some cases there may be subtle, or major, meaning differences between the various Kanji (攻める=attack physically、責める=attack psychologically)

  • 3
    頷く, of course, is much more common than 肯く or 首肯く. And kana is also commonly used, perhaps because none of these three ways of writing the word in kanji are listed on the 常用漢字表.
    – user1478
    Feb 3, 2016 at 19:34
  • Originally I had written 頷く but at the last minute changed it to 肯く for some reason (: But you are write 頷く is much more common.
    – Locksleyu
    Feb 4, 2016 at 1:18

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