Questions about the origin and the history of Chinese characters or words.

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4answers
107 views

Meaning and etymology of the expression “棒棒的!”

Someone wrote to me "两个月就写这么好,棒棒的!" I get the first part (though I don't think it's true - 哪里哪里 ;-)), but what exactly does that "appendix" stand for? I interpreted it as a kind of "clapping one's ...
3
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2answers
163 views

Has 管理 something to do with plumbing? If so then

Has "管理 = manage" something to do with plumbing, making pipes or taking care of them? As far as I know 管 is a measure word for tube-shaped objects. So my logic suggest that 管理 is an meaning-extension ...
2
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2answers
84 views

How does '一勿' Compound to mean sundial?

Etymology [of 腸] Ideogrammic compound (會意): 日 ‎(“sun”) + 一 + 勿   The rays of the sun. [ From chineseetymology.org: ] Primitive pictograph 昜. From sun日 (rays) on a sun dial (一勿). Meaning ...
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2answers
165 views

Is there any website of where I can look up the origins of a Chinese character? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What etymology dictionaries are available? What was this online dictionary's name with ancient traditional and simplified characters and etymology? I always wanted to ...
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1answer
94 views

What are the etymologies of 局 and 局面?

As far as I know 局 applies to everything which demands crooking ones body. A job behind a desk almost always means you are sitting with your back bent: A small office is 局, a chess game is 局, a game ...
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2answers
114 views

Enigma of 討厭. Why does it mean “to hate”?

As far as I know 寸 is a depiction of a finger pointing at a wrist where one’s pulse was taken. The distance between a hand and that point is small, so this portion signified a little… So ...
12
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7answers
610 views

家: why is a home a place for pigs?

The character 家 is a bit of a joke: it describes a dwelling (宀) for pigs (豕). Why is this strange construction used? Were pigs somehow important for homes in the past? 说文解字 describes 家 as 从宀,豭省聲 - ...
2
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1answer
98 views

Why 批 means “criticize” and “a batch” at the same time?

Is there a story to this mutation of meaning? Or is this shift of semantics connected to phonetic considerations only?
0
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1answer
83 views

Why 就范 means “to give in”?

What is etymology of this word? As far as I know 就 means: to start or to enter which sometimes is being interpreted as to take some thing (to enter a position of ...) So I just can't see why ...
1
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2answers
286 views

Roots of the difference between 谈,论,说,讲,议, 叙,言,报,告,述

All those talk, discuss, chat and ect. In any language there are a lot of words expressing different connotation of people speaking. In my own language (russian) there are lot's of them BUT I can ...
2
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3answers
96 views

How does 行 evolved to mean industry?

I was interested in differentiatig between different usages of obj+业,for example: 企业,商业... and there it was - 行业. So the question is "why 行 means industry and does it have something to do with it's ...
18
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5answers
847 views

足: why is “foot” also “enough”?

足 is an ancient character meaning "foot". However, it also means "enough" or "sufficient", and this second definition is also very old. Consider this excerpt: 兵甲已足。——诸葛亮《出师表》 This is from ...
4
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2answers
142 views

What semantic field underlies 經?

[ Wiktionary : ] 經 [...] classic works, scripture, canon pass through warp (as in "warp and weft") (Chinese medicine) energy channels of the body (geography) longitude manage, ...
0
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1answer
86 views

Origin of 天气 (weather)?

What's the origin of 天气? 天, I'm willing to bet is 老天爷; with phrase like 天公不作美 (天公 = 老天爷) and even the government claiming that: 老天爷为何这么给“面子” 专家细解阅兵前后降雨成因 It seems that the idea that 老天爷 is in ...
2
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2answers
126 views

How does 海报 became “a poster”?

I was reading an article in some chinsese newspapare and saw a line 因为偷了一张题写着政治标语的海报 Why the Hell Ocean + Official Report means "a poster"? p.s. has it something to do with a postage stamp? You ...
3
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3answers
278 views

Why is 儿 in different positions in “儿子” and “女儿”?

儿 [Er] child 儿子 [Érzi] son 女儿 [Nǚ'ér] daughter So, why is 儿 in different positions in each word but they are both valid?
9
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4answers
665 views

快: why does “fast” also mean “happy”?

The character 快 is usually used for the meaning of "fast", but it is also used in the sense of "pleasant" or "happy" - for example, in the words 痛快, 爽快. It seems that both meanings are quite ancient. ...
1
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1answer
127 views

乒 and 乓 characters are together a pictographic group? [duplicate]

倪阔乐 pointed in his answer, 乒 and 乓 have onomatopoeic use and these characters were "chosen for the sound playing the game makes" and it's a Great explanation but.... When I see 乒乓 together I see the ...
0
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1answer
86 views

Does 告 posess negative connotation?

There was a discussion about different "talk" words in chinese. Here is the link: Roots of the difference between 谈,论,说,讲,议, 叙,言,报,告 And there was an explanation of 告. 告 (gao4) consists of the ...
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2answers
85 views

Does 声 exist as a traditional character?

I see that 声 has an entry in the Kangxi dictionary, but every site seems to define 声 as a simplification of 聲. Does 声 also exist as a traditional character? If not, then what's the etymology behind 殸? ...
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4answers
665 views

Why is the 会 in 会计 pronounced kuài?

The character 会 has two different pronunciations; usually it is huì but in 会计 it is pronounced kuài. It seems that the latter pronunciation is exclusively used in the "accounting" meaning. How did ...
8
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2answers
191 views

Etymology of 我 - How did 我's radicals 手 and 戈 create the meaning of 我?

Tell me, please, how do 我's radicals 手 and 戈 create the meaning of 我 (ie: I)? I know that 戈's pictogram (象形) means a rake-like tool or weapon, borrowed for sound to mean "me" (note 'Oracle bone ...
9
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1answer
250 views

Why 息 means news?

Why 息 means news? Etymology suggest it means "rest" - "From nose indicating breath and also phonetic 自 and heart or chest 心. Meaning to rest." sorce: ...
4
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2answers
402 views

Why is the character 漢 built in such a weird way?

漢 is the character meaning "China" or "Sino-". It supposedly ultimately derives from the name of the river Han. I understand why the water radical is present there, but I have no idea why the ...
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2answers
155 views

Why does 節 mean both “festival” and “to save, to control”?

why does a "bamboo joint" (as etymology suggests) mean: "control / to restrict / to curtail / to economize" and at the same time "festival / holiday"? I'll post partial a answer from the ...
6
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4answers
556 views

三长两短: what's long and what's short?

(求词源) 三长两短 is a chengyu that means "unforeseen disaster". It can also be a euphemism for death. Here's an example of its usage: 明·罗贯中《三遂平妖传》:“万一些后再有三长两短,终不能靠着太医活命。” What is its etymology ...
2
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1answer
78 views

Does anyone know origins of 万一?

Does anyone knows how 万一 became a phrase with "just in case" meaning? Is it a shorthand of a longer phrase or chengyu?
3
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2answers
90 views

What can we make of the name 九儿?

Two questions about the childhood name of the pivotal character in Mo Yan's Red Sorghum Clan: Her childhood name was 九儿. Does this suggest she was one of (at least) nine children? I do not recall ...
4
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2answers
133 views

Etymology of the character 也

I've already done some research on the character 也, but I haven't find something that pleased me. I've seen explanations going from "horn" and "snake" to "vulva" and "around". Where did it come from? ...
9
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6answers
279 views

案: why is a bench also a case?

Sorry about the cryptic title. 案 is a character that can mean "bench"/"desk" but it can also mean "(legal) case" or "file": 长形的桌子或架起来代替桌子用的长木板:~子。~板。书~。条~。拍~而起。 ...
9
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5answers
1k views

A Complex Chinese Character

I randomly saw this character on the blog a while ago and saved a image of it as shown below. Is this even a character? If so, what does it mean? When is it used? What was the origin of it? How do ...
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2answers
60 views

Does anyone know the reason why 生地黃 is called 地黃 [yellow earth]?

Does anyone know the reason why 生地黃 is called 地黃 [yellow earth]? I don't know if 六味地黄丸 took the name from 生地黃 or viceversa, but either way I couldn't find neither the etymology of 六味地黄丸 in English (I ...
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3answers
221 views

What is the etymology of 餵?

I was surprised to find out about the character 餵 (wei4, 喂) because it doesn't seem to have a meaning other than an expression to answer the telephone. Since the telephone was only invented in the ...
8
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2answers
482 views

Are the Cantonese word 係 and the Japanese word はい related?

The Cantonese word meaning "to be", written as 係 (Jyutping: hai6) sounds similar to the Japanese word はい ("hai" in various Romanizations). Both words are used to answer "yes" or "it is correct" to ...
2
votes
4answers
331 views

What is the origin of the word 猫 (cat)?

I keep on thinking that the way it is pronounced (māo) seemed to mimic the noises a cat makes (meow!). The character seems identical to the one for the same word in Japanese. Was this the original ...
15
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8answers
450 views

Why is 两 used for quantities of two rather than 二?

I understand that 两 is used instead of 二 when dealing with quantities of two. However, my question is - why? What are the historical reasons behind this? I looked at Wikitionary but it only had ...
0
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1answer
38 views

What is the meaning behind 华胄 ?

I found the sentence 他是华胄,所以气质不凡. It is been translated as "He is the offspring of a noble family, thus his character is not a common one". I also found for 华胄 the translation "offspring of the ...
3
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2answers
319 views

“Thank you” in Tibetan, Cantonese, and Mandarin

I have observed, from subtitled movies, that there seems to be an expression [tɔdʒe] in Cantonese meaning, approximately, "thank you". In Standard Lhasa Tibetan as represented by Nawang Nornang, the ...
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1answer
79 views

Does anyone know why 点 has the meanings of “to light\to ignite” in certain compounds (such as in 点燃\点火\点灯)?

These are the only character's acceptations I really can't relate to, does anyone know why it's used with such meanings?
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2answers
153 views

Origin of the term “Sitting the Month”

I've recently learned about the practice of 坐月子 or sitting the month where a woman secludes herself for around a month following a pregnancy. The articles I've read indicate that this practice has ...
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2answers
243 views

Why did China opt for 星期 over 曜日?

Korea and Japan seem to have a week system that looks like this: Monday 月曜日 Tuesday 火曜日 Wednesday 水曜日 Thursday 木曜日 Friday 金曜日 Saturday 土曜日 Sunday 日曜日 China ...
0
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1answer
90 views

Why is 遞 = (辶 + (厂 + 虎))?

遞 is most commonly used, nowadays, to mean "to pass" -or- "to give". Here's the definition of its simplified counterpart 递 given on zisea: ①传送,传达:传~。投~。~送。~交。~眼色(以目示意)。呈~国书。 ...
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1answer
104 views

Chinese vs English [closed]

There is a lot a gramma points/words in chinese similar to english 生日/ birthday 爸爸的笔 / dad's pen I would like know if it's a radom linguisitic fact or if it could have a chinese influence on ...
2
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3answers
244 views

磨洋工 Why 洋(?)工? Lazy Foreigners?

KEY defines 磨洋工 as slack off on the job, goof off My question is why? 洋 is often associated with foreign things, especially Euro-American (欧美). Are foreigners lazy in the eyes of Chinese?
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2answers
114 views

Does 宝 have its own history separate from 寶?

I was trying to figure out the characters for Sapporo, the Japanese beer, the other day and found: 七宝 was one of the translations for it. My initial reaction was to search 七寶 in my Japanese ...
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5answers
2k views

Why does the word 萌 mean “cute”?

A friend of mine said in a photo of me, my eyes looked very 萌(meng2). 你的眼睛很萌 My dictionary defines 萌 as; 萌 méng (动) sprout; bud; germinate But apparently in this context it means ...
2
votes
2answers
148 views

What is the origin of the slang term 6?

I'm speaking about for example: 他很6 To mean: He's very pro/skilled. I've seen this a lot, but I don't quite see what the origin of this comes from.
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3answers
225 views

Is “谐仿” an actual word in Chinese?

The English Wiktionary lists "谐仿" (xiéfǎng) as a translation for the English word "parody". But my other dictionaries don't list it and also my friends here in China say they don't know it, not even ...
3
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2answers
112 views

What is the origin and meaning of 焗烤

焗 was an uncommon character in Taiwan 20-30 years ago, limited mostly to Cantonese restaurants, and it was an unusual type of cooking. The MOE 國語辭典 gives this description of 焗: ...
21
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3answers
11k views

What is the exact meaning of 吃豆腐, and where does the expression come from?

I'm not talking about eating tofu, but the expression that means something more like taking advantage of someone. What exactly does 吃豆腐 mean, and where does this expression come from?