These words bug the heck out of me due to their multiple readings, and I haven't found anything that addresses this problem. Thus, I am going to attempt to compile a list of the ones I'm having trouble with. Please point out any error should you see one, as I guarantee there shall be many. The following definitions are secretly stolen from the dictionary I am using (ルミナス, 研究社). Here the focus is on how they should be read as a single word alone.

縁: へり・ふち・ゆかり・よすが

  1. へり

    物の端{はし} edge;布{ぬの}や着物の hem;コップや茶碗{ちゃわん}など円形の物の brim;畳{たたみ}などの border

  2. ふち

    へり edge; 一般に物の周辺 fringe;崖{がけ}などの brink;眼鏡・帽子の rim;コップなどの brim; 額縁{がくぶち} frame
    例:池の*縁{ふち}(or *縁{へり}); 縁なし・金縁{きんぶち} の眼鏡
    *See below. Could be that only one reading is correct.

    And now a quotation from our buddy, goo辞書:

    「机のふち(へり)に手をつく」「茶碗のふち(へり)」「崖のふち(へり)」のように、物のまわりやまぎわの部分の意では、相通じて用いられる。◇「ふち」には「目のふちを赤くする」とか、「眼鏡のふち」「額 (がく) ぶち」のような、回りの枠をいう使い方もあり、この場合は「へり」は用いない。◇「へり」は、「船べり」「川べり」のように平らなものの周辺部をいうことが多く、さらに周辺部につける飾り物などの意まで広がる。「リボンでへりをつける」「畳のへりがすり切れる」

    Rough translation:
    For the edge or brim of things like desks, rice bowl, teacup, cliffs, etc., both readings (へり & ふち) are interchangeable. However, for things that has a rim, frame, and so on, use ふち (or ぶち as a suffix). As for へり (or べり as a suffix), you want to use it for the border of flat stuff, or adornments added to the border of... stuff.

  3. ゆかり
    The definition seems to overlap with 縁{えん}, a reading I won't bring up.

    繋{つな}がり connection;血縁関係 relation
    a.) 彼女は私には(?)も*ゆかりもない。 She has no relation to me.
    b.) ここは『蝶々夫人』*ゆかりの地である。 This place is noted in connection with Madame Butterfly.
    I do not know how in the world to read this one.

  4. よすが

    思い出させる物・事 reminder;助け help;手段 means
    a.) 亡き友が*よすがにと残した詩集 a collection of poems my dead friend left as a reminder of them
    b.) 身を寄せる*よすがもない。 I have nowhere to go for help.

: たん・は・はし・はな

  1. たん (standalone)
    No definition is given, but this reading seems to go with を発する only.

    a.) その革命は何に*端を発したのか。 What triggered the revolution?
    b.) 夫婦げんかはつまらない事に*端を発することが多い。 A quarrel between a couple often originates in trifles.

  2. edge
    例:山の*端 a mountain ridge

  3. はし
    Again, seems to overlap with は to me.

    末端 end;隅 corner;縁 edge
    a.) 彼は一番前の列の*端に座った。 He sat at the end of the front row.
    b.) 机の*端にはインクのしみがついていた。 There was an ink stain on the corner of the desk.

  4. はな

    始まり the beginning;出発点 the start;最初 the first
    例:そんなことは*はなから知っていた。 I knew it from the beginning.

    *These two have their own entries: はした金{がね} small sum (of money);端数{はすう} fraction

Bonus confusion:

」―When read as がわ, it means "side," and the reading かわ is becoming less common even when you see 側 alone. When read as そば, it means "a place close to something/somewhere." For 側{がわ}, kanji is usually written, whereas そば is written in kana.

Is this list up to date with modern conventions? Are some of these readings replaced by another nowadays? Which readings are usually written in kana, and which in kanji?

TIL: 畳の縁{へり}を踏んではいけません。

  • 1
    side note:goo’s 国語辞典 seems to be デジタル大辞泉 from Shogakukan Commented Jun 1, 2018 at 22:13
  • Is 小学館 reliable, or does it oversimplify things?
    – Yeti Ape
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 2:34
  • 2
    – chocolate
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 2:53
  • 1
    @YetiApe here’s a good review by a pro translator gally.net/translation/kokugo.htm (could be a little outdated) Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 9:19

1 Answer 1


This question is probably worth a research paper or at least a blog post but here’s my attempt anyway.

I checked the Kodansha’s Learner dictionary (based on The Kodansha Kanji Dictionary), which seems to give only the most relevant information.

for : On reading is エン, both in compounds and standalone

Kun is ふち. these examples are given for it:

ふち EDGE, verge, brink, border, side; frame; hem, fringe

縁取り ふちどりbordering, hemming

盆の縁 ぼんのふち edge of a tray

額縁 がくぶち (picture) frame

ゆかりand ゆり are listed as nanori only. other readings are not mentioned, so you can probably ignore them unless you read some old texts

for 端, the article is quite long so I won’t quote it all but here’s what it mentions for :

は¹ 端 edge, border

山の端 やまのは edge [brow] of mountain

は² 端 [in compounds]odd thing, fragment, piece—historically sometimes interchangeable with 葉, as in the word はがき, which is now always written 葉書

端数 はすう fraction, odd sum

半端 はんぱ fragment, odd item; incompleteness

下っ端 したっぱ underling, subordinate

and はた;

はた 端, -ばた -端 [also suffix]edge, side

池の端で いけのはたで near [by] the pond

道端 みちばた roadside, wayside

  • Thanks for sharing, but... oh, geez, I'm not sure what to make of this. Your dictionary and mine (ルミナス, 研究社) seem to disagree on 端 a lot. Mine doesn't say anything about the "は" reading being fragment and such. For "edge," yours lists "はた" as the reading, but mine doesn't even give "はた" at all, and "はし" is the one whose definition concerns "edge" in mine. I'm beginning to think this is yet another rabbit hole where I may have to look at each word case by case, and learn them the hard way instead.
    – Yeti Ape
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 2:25
  • It's probably worth being aware of 縁(えにし) as well, although for a learner I think it should be a much lower priority than えん and ふち.
    – user1478
    Commented Jun 6, 2018 at 23:02

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