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One thing I've been curious about while learning Chinese is the use of 月 in many 汉字 representing anatomical features (for example, 脸, 腰, or 腿).

What is the etymology of the use of 月 as a radical?

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It is not exactly 月. The two horizontal bars are actually a 点 and a 提, which in fact means 肉. It is still the standard writing in Taiwan. In mainland China, they have changed it to 月 for easier writing under the orthography of simplified Chinese –  user58955 Jun 7 at 15:59
    
@user58955 I think I should mention in 舊字形 (old-style glyph, like in 康熙字典), the two horizontal bars are not 點 and 提. So, it may be not correct to say "actually a 点 and a 提". Anyway, in seal scripts, it's written just as 肉, and when developed to 隸書 (clerical script), they became two bars -- sometimes the second bar slanted a little -- but no standard said it should be 點提 in the old times. –  Stan Jun 8 at 13:37
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@Stan Point taken. Indeed, 正字通 says 《石经》改作月,中二画连左右,与日月之月异,今俗作⺼以别之。 –  user58955 Jun 8 at 13:45
    
because the 月 look like the 肉,when the character related with flesh,It could use a 月 as radical. –  user4545 Dec 11 at 12:49
    
Downvote because this is not contributing. Someone has already given a much better answer long before you did. –  Wang Dingwei Dec 12 at 4:36

1 Answer 1

up vote 11 down vote accepted

The 月字旁 was originally '肉' & not '月' - 肉 has the meaning of 肉体 meaning 'flesh' or having to do with the 'human body' so it's often seen with body parts.

Wikipedia:

肉字旁:臺灣標準中,凡肉字旁的字,都寫作「提肉旁」即enter image description here,使其不會與「月字旁」相混。《字形表》中,肉字旁只在字的左旁時才寫作「提肉旁」,在字的右旁時採用首筆豎的方式與「月字旁」區分(「月字旁」在右方時,首筆為撇)。但在下方時,則「肉」與「月」首筆都作豎,兩者會相混。

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@ChrisDown I'm getting "拒绝访问" on that image –  user3306356 Jun 8 at 15:48
    
I mirrored it here. –  赵永 Chris Down Jun 9 at 2:33

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