I am asking this question because it might be possible for two Kanji characters, if written in reverse order, could have the same meaning. Thank you very much.

  • I can think of 心身 and 身心, so I would say yes sometimes. @naruto's answer is really good as he has many examples...more examples than I can think of.
    – Herb
    Mar 9, 2017 at 19:41

2 Answers 2


Usually reversing the order drastically changes the meaning even if it happens to mean something:

  • 会社【かいしゃ】 company ≠ 社会【しゃかい】 society
  • 牛乳【ぎゅうにゅう】 cow milk ≠ 乳牛【にゅうぎゅう】 milk cow
  • 現実【げんじつ】 reality ≠ 実現【じつげん】 realization
  • 家出【いえで】 running away from home ≠ 出家【しゅっけ】 entering the priesthood
  • 日本【にほん】 Japan ≠ 本日【ほんじつ】 today

But some pairs have a very similar meaning, if not completely interchangeable. Examples include:

  • 表裏【ひょうり】 ≒ 裏表【うらおもて】 two sides (eg of a paper)
  • 性根【しょうこん】 ≒ 根性【こんじょう】 nature (of a person), character
  • 階上【かいじょう】 ≒ 上階【じょうかい】 upper floor
  • 年毎【としごと】 ≒ 毎年【まいとし】 every year
  • 誕生【たんじょう】 ≒ 生誕【せいたん】 birth
  • 野山【のやま】 ≒ 山野【さんや】 hills and fields
  • 事物【じぶつ】 ≒ 物事【ものごと】 things
  • 苦労【くろう】 ≒ 労苦【ろうく】 hardship
  • 左右【さゆう】 ≒ 右左【みぎひだり】 left and right
  • 凹凸【おうとつ】 ≒ 凸凹【でこぼこ】 unevenness
  • 祖先【そせん】 ≒ 先祖【せんぞ】 ancestor
  • 1
    Worth pointing out to the reader if they are unaware that the nuance or context of the reversals even when the meaning doesn't change very much is different, to some degree because of the on/kun-yomi shift. Mar 9, 2017 at 23:01

Ever? Yes. 日日 has the same meaning forward and reverse.

  • Also, I understand that in some contexts phrases may be written right-to-left - effectively, in the traditional top-to-bottom, then right-to-left manner, but with a single character per "line". Mar 10, 2017 at 8:28
  • 1
    humor is strong in this one
    – jarmanso7
    Aug 28, 2019 at 17:51

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