"Because of the way they have been adopted into Japanese, a single kanji may be used to write one or more different words (or, in some cases, morphemes), and thus the same character may be pronounced in different ways. From the point of view of the reader, kanji are said to have one or more different "readings". Deciding which reading is appropriate depends on recognizing which word it represents, which can usually be determined from context, intended meaning, whether the character occurs as part of a compound word or an independent word, and sometimes location within the sentence." -from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanji Just wanted to make clear I fully understand the way in which Japanese addopted Chinese Characters and the way in which one Kanji can have several readings, but there is a fuzzy line in my mind between "readings" and "words". I understood that a single Kanji can have one or many "kun" readings and one or many "on" readings but I always understood these to be readings of the same "words". So I thought that different situations (such as compound words) called for a different reading to be used, but both in the minds of foreigners and japanese people it is valued as one meaning or one word. Now we also have homographs, where one kanji can be used for something that means something COMPLETELY different much like homographs in other languages "to bear" "a bear" / 一時 one oclock, 一時 a while, 一時 a moment. Now what I'm trying to work out is, is there a distinction between "readings" and "homographs" or do all separate readings of a word come with slightly different meanings. I feel as is the case with 一時, it is clear to see how all 3 words relate, one oclock... one moment... a moment.. a moment is a while... they all link. So it's almost like to me we have two stages of homography 1) readings which can be used in different situations to mean SLIGHTLY different things but still within the realm of the same meaning 2) an actual homograph like "to bear" and "a bear" with completely different meanings (could anyone give a japanese example of this as I don't have one to hand). Is it true in the japanese mind the readings are valued as different "WORDS" as the wiki would suggest, or that they are readings of the same word... unlike "to bear" and "a bear" which i keep using as my example, which are definitely different words. Thanks. P.S. Just to make it ultra clear "I am trying to find out if there is a distinguishable difference between "readings" of one same word and "homographs" completely different words that use the same kanji, OR if in the mind of a Japanese person there is no distinguishable line and this is all a continuum.