currently trying hard to refresh my Kanji skills and stumbled over

お腹 == おなか

To my surprise none of the Kanji dictionaries list the reading なか for this Kanji. Only フク and はら. Is there a third category I am not aware of ?


1 Answer 1


Yes, that's the case. According to the Japanese Stage-Step Course: Writing Practice Book by Wako Tawa, page 206, 「お腹【なか】」is a 熟字訓【じゅくじくん】, i.e. a special kanji reading which is neither an 音読【おんよ】み nor a 訓読【くんよ】み. Please refer to this answer for more information on 熟字訓【じゅくじくん】.

  • 1
    Is お腹 widely considered a 熟字訓? I thought 熟字訓 normally referred to terms comprising two or more kanji, in which a single, indivisible 訓読み is applied to the whole. Of course, お腹 can be written 御腹, but then clearly the first kanji is being read お and the second is being read なか. That seems rather different from cases like 紅葉{もみじ}, 昨日{きのう}, and 杜鵑{ほととぎす}, in which we can't say that part of the reading applies to the first kanji and part to the second. Why isn't お腹 (or 御腹) considered a case in which 腹 is simply given a non-standard reading, rather than as 熟字訓?
    – Nanigashi
    Jun 23, 2019 at 17:34
  • I'm afraid I don't know the extent to which お腹 is considered a 熟字訓 or not. Let's wait for someone else with more knowledge on this to shed some light on it. I did research a bit and it seems as though the etimology of the word 熟字訓 is "compound of kunyomi", but the actual meaning of the word does not consider the fact that the reading is 訓 or not and it just means "kanji compound used for nouns by their meaning disregarding the sound". Please see the sections etimology and name here.
    – jarmanso7
    Jun 24, 2019 at 2:53
  • On other hand, fair point, お腹 is not a kanji compound but a single kanji word. As for your statement that 熟字訓 are those words where a 訓読み is extended to a whole compound, can you cite any source to back it up, so we can learn from it? Thank you!
    – jarmanso7
    Jun 24, 2019 at 2:54
  • 1
    Sure – see for example the definition of 熟字訓 in 大辞林: 漢字二字以上の熟字全体に、日本語の訓をあてて読むこと。また、その読み。「昨日(きのう)」「紅葉(もみじ)」「杜鵑(ほととぎす)」「羊歯(しだ)」の類。(Emphasis added) weblio.jp/content/熟字訓 Or in 学研国語大辞典: 二字以上が一続きになってまとまった漢字に対して与えられる訓。「昨日」に対する「きのう」、「海苔」に対する「のり」など。(Emphasis added). sakura-paris.org/dict/学研国語大辞典/prefix/熟字訓. 広辞苑 is less explicit on this point, but even so the examples of 熟字訓熟字訓 that it provides (私語{ささやき} and 五月雨{さみだれ}) seem instructive. sakura-paris.org/dict/広辞苑/prefix/熟字訓
    – Nanigashi
    Jun 24, 2019 at 17:00
  • Thank you very much. I wonder whether there's a more accurate term to label those words whose reading is not 音読み nor 訓読み and still they don't fit into this stricter 塾字訓 definiton?
    – jarmanso7
    Jun 24, 2019 at 17:35

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