Kanji: 末, 未, and 本 (let’s climb a tree!)
I’ve got three kanji today, each made from the kanji for tree 木 with an extra line added!
…And yes, I do know exactly how you feel when you see 未 and 末.
Luckily, they actually kind of make sense! If you imagine yourself climbing a tree 木, the extra line always shows where you are.
For 本 (origin), you’re at the roots, the source of the tree. 本 is a common kanji that’s picked up some extra meanings through the years; it can also mean “book” (I guess you use books as sources of information?) or a counter for long skinny things (as in one “stick of” something—I guess roots ARE long and skinny).
- 日本 （にほん） Japan (日=”sun”, “source of the sun” = “Land of the Rising Sun”)
- 本物 （ほんもの） the real thing, the original one (物 thing)
- 本屋 （ほんや） bookstore (-屋 store)
- 一本 （いっぽん） one (of something long and skinny, 一 “one”)
For 未 (not yet), the biggest line is in the middle. That’s where you are—you haven’t reached the top of the tree yet.
- 未来 （みらい） future (“hasn’t come yet” 来= come)
- 未知 （みち） unknown (知 “know”)
- 未成年 （みせいねん） minor, underage (“hasn’t become of age yet” 成 become, 年 year)
For 末 (end), the big line is way out at the very ends of the branches. You’ve reached the “end” of the tree now.
- 週末 （しゅうまつ） weekend (週 week)
- 結末 （けつまつ） conclusion (結 tie together)
- 末っ子 （すえっこ） youngest child (子 child)
And if it’s any consolation, I don’t know of any words that are identical except that one has 未 and the other has 末, so you’ll at least have the rest of the word to help you out if you’ve got an ambiguous font style.
IS that any consolation? I PROMISE THEY LOOK WAY DIFFERENT TO ME NOW, THE HUMAN BRAIN IS AN AMAZING THING AND YOURS WILL FIGURE IT OUT EVENTUALLY.
There’s also 夫 as well, if I can throw that in there and make life even more complicated.