Why is 近道 read/pronounced as ちかみち and not きんどう?

My first assumption is that the word originated before the kanji was introduced, but I don't have this sort of information on tap.

  • Why do you think it should be read as きんどう when no such word exists?
    – aguijonazo
    Feb 23, 2022 at 16:25
  • 3
    きんどう would have been my first guess if I didn't know the word, but there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing between onyomi and kunyomi. See this link: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/43197/… Feb 23, 2022 at 19:40
  • @user3856370 - It’s totally understandable that your first guess is きんどう, but would you ask why it has to be ちかみち? A written form exists for an existing word, not the other way around.
    – aguijonazo
    Feb 24, 2022 at 1:23
  • @aguijonazo I would not ask that. I wasn't justifying the question, merely why the OP might have thought it was pronounced きんどう. I can only guess that the OP has been taught that two-kanji compounds are always pronounced with onyomi, and maybe thinks this is a rare and interesting exception. Feb 24, 2022 at 8:51

1 Answer 1


Basic old words tend to be in kun-readings, while modern technical words tend to be in on-readings. Still, it's just a tendency. You ultimately have to remember the pronunciation of each word individually.

There are many words that end with 道 pronounced as みち:

You can see these concepts are generally older than on-reading words such as 国道 (こくどう), 隧道 (ずいどう), 自動車道 (じどうしゃどう), 水道 (すいどう), and 赤道 (せきどう). I don't know if 近道 really existed before the arrival of kanji, but it's hard to imagine the old people were unfamiliar with the concept of shortcut.

You must log in to answer this question.

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