I didn't see a duplicate for this in the similar questions, so here goes. Is there either a list of words like this, or a name for this type of word (made of two very rare/complex kanji, but the word itself is fairly common)?

These are the ones I have so far, for reference:


These two are just plant/mineral names, but are also somewhat common/Jouyou kanji:


  • 3
    They're visually complex, yes, but I don't think any of these are very rare. Probably 顰蹙 is the least common of the bunch, but for example 躊躇 is quite common.
    – user1478
    Mar 20, 2019 at 2:40
  • That's the idea. Neither kanji is common (besides use in those words), but the word itself is somewhat common. Do you know any more like this? I remembered 挨拶 as well, but I don't know any more Mar 20, 2019 at 2:44
  • 海驢(アシカ a sea lion) 鶯(ウグイス a nightingale) 鸚鵡(オウム a parrot) 玉蜀黍(トウモロコシ corn) 菠薐草(ホウレンソウ spinach) I guess animals and plants, especially introduced from foreign countries, tend to have such characters. As a side note, almost all Japanese cannot write these 5 words, and most of them even cannot read them if they are in character.
    – suzuki
    Mar 20, 2019 at 2:47
  • 2
    Looking up 難読漢字 will likely get you an interesting set of words, some of which are common, although not necessarily. You could combine one of those lists with a corpus if you were interested in doing the research yourself. Mar 20, 2019 at 3:14
  • Yeah, that's bringing up quite a couple. I'm trying to find one's in a slightly lower/more common range, but these are pretty helpful. It doesn't really let guests vote on things, but Thank You very much for your time. Mar 20, 2019 at 3:34

2 Answers 2


... a name for this type of word (made of two very rare/complex kanji, but the word itself is fairly common)?

How about...
or maybe...

such as:


This is similar (though possibly a little different from): 当て字.

These are when kanji with (typically Chinese-style) pronunciation are used to inform pronunciation (because most Japanese know the Chinese reading for the characters used). Often times though, the meaning of the characters used may have little or no relationship with the underlying meaning of the word written in this fashion.

  • 10
    I think ateji is a different (and well defined) concept and not what the OP is asking about.
    – Earthliŋ
    May 23, 2019 at 22:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .