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Some words in English use (capital) letters to describe the shape of the object to which they refer:

A-frame, C-clamp, I-beam, O-ring, T-shirt, T-intersection, T-bone, U-turn, V-neck

Chinese seems to have a few words like this (except they make reference to the shape of characters). There are a couple using that are very common:

红十字 -- the Red Cross

十字路口 -- a street intersection

I've also come across one with and one with :

丁骨牛排 -- a T-bone steak

回形针 -- a paperclip

Are there any other words like this?

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Some examples that come to mind: 工字 (工字柱), 人字 (人字队), 一字 (一字队). The English forms are also taken over (for example V字领). –  BertR Jun 25 '12 at 11:19
    
@BertR Can you edit these into Huang's answer (along with translations)? –  Stumpy Joe Pete Jun 25 '12 at 12:58
    
something like this? –  BertR Jun 26 '12 at 10:53
    
Yep. Looks good. Thanks. –  Stumpy Joe Pete Jun 26 '12 at 10:56
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2 Answers 2

up vote 14 down vote accepted
  1. 金-shaped
    • 金字塔 Pyramid (Because the shape of a pyramid looks like 金)
  2. 田-shaped
    • 田字格 grids with the arrangement like 田
  3. 工-shaped
    • 工字梁 I-beam
    • 工字柱 I-column
  4. 米-shaped
    • 米字旗 the national flag of UK
  5. 之-shaped
    • 之江 another name of Qiantang River, because its course looks like the shape of 之
  6. 井-shaped
    • 井形格床 two-way grillage
    • 井号 hash sign
  7. 人-shaped
    • 人字队 in V formation (for example for birds)
    • 人字鞋 flip-flops (the sandals)
  8. 一-shaped
    • 一字队 in line formation (for example for birds)
  9. 丁-shaped
    • 丁字路口 T-junction
  10. 十-shaped
    • 十字路口 crossroads; intersection
  11. 八-shaped
    • 八字脚 splayed feet(normally when a man walks, the two soles are approximately parallel; however, someone would splay his feet when walking, so the two soles looks like a trumpet, the 八 shape)
    • 八字眉 eyebrow arranged in the shape like 八(imagine the eyebrow of the Angry Birds)
  12. 国字脸, means a face looks like square
  13. 日-shaped
    • 马走日 knight (in both Chess and Xiangqi) goes L, that is, two steps in one direction plus one additional step perpendicularly. In Xiangqi where pieces go along lines instead of squares, the starting and stopping position of a 马 (knight) forms a 日.
  14. 大-shaped
    • 大字形躺在床上 lying in bed with arms and legs open (that person must be very tired)
  15. 品-shaped
    • 品字结构的汉字 other Chinese characters whose structure is similar to 品, with three identical parts arranged in a triangle. e.g. 晶, 众, 鑫, 森 ...
    • 品字形布局 a triangular arrangement. This may refer to anything, like three buildings, three wells and so on.
  16. 弓-shaped
    • 弓着身子 hump his/her back
  17. 卐 or 卍-shaped
    • 卐字旗 the flag of the Nazi Party
  18. 回-shaped
    • 回字形建筑 a building with a large courtyard in the center.
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1  
Also 井号 for the pound sign (hash) –  Gus Jun 26 '12 at 3:07
    
@Huang: I added some other examples and restructured your answer. I hope you won't mind. –  BertR Jun 26 '12 at 10:55
    
@BertR It's very kind of you to improve my answer. Of course I don't mind, instead, I want to say "thank you". Sorry for my late reply. I am very busy. –  Huang Jul 3 '12 at 4:50
    
@Huang: The answer has become really popular. It's a pity we can't share the reputation :-( –  BertR Jul 3 '12 at 14:23
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乒乓球 pīngpāngqiú ping pong; table tennis

Does this fit in with your thread?

Maybe...maybe not...

The first two characters make a good mnemonics for the table tennis table.

I also like the onomatopœia makes it easy to remember

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Sorry, not so much. In the other examples, there is a common character, and the word is comparing the object with the shape of that character (e.g., intersections look like ) –  Stumpy Joe Pete Jun 27 '12 at 9:41
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