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

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2
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3answers
104 views

Where did the phrase, 太牛了 come from?

Where did the phrase, 太牛了 come from? I'm guessing it doesn't have anything to do with cows...
2
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2answers
111 views

What is the origin of the character 对/對?

I've been studying the etymology of characters lately, and I'm stuck trying to figure out how 对/對 is formed. It is apparently a compound of 丵 (zhuó; grass, bush) and 寸 (cùn; inch, thumb), plus an ...
0
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3answers
78 views

Connotations of different “to give”

Can natives and other knowledgeable people share their ideas on how to differentiate between many "to give" verbs? The list is not complete. Anyone is welcome to add their "gives" in it. 施 - ...
10
votes
4answers
831 views

Why does 有机 as in 有机食品 mean organic?

有 and 机 are some of the first characters we learn in Chinese, but only recently did I find out that they mean "organic" when put together. Can anyone explain why this is?
1
vote
2answers
80 views

Can anyone suggest etymology of 施?

Does anyone has a good model of the origin of 施? As far as I know the common ground in deciphering this character is: On the left - flag pole. On top - flag cloth. On the right-bottom - snake or, ...
0
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2answers
45 views

Etymology or any mnemonic for 況 and 状?

Does any one have good etymology theory about those HanZi? My take: 状 - fence + dog inside ~ then this mutated to a "situation or disposition" meaning. 状 - remnant of 壮 + dog = huge dog. how this ...
4
votes
3answers
165 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? ...
2
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2answers
122 views

What's the meaning of “神” in “神经”?

I am a high school student who are curious with psychology. When I read the section on neuron, I find that the Chinese translation below is "神经". I am very enthusiastic about it because it seems ...
6
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1answer
1k views

Is there any relation between the Cyrillic Ш (sha) and the Chinese 山 (shān)?

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but the Cyrillic Ш/ш (sha) looks like the Chinese 山 (shān) and have similarity in pronunciation. Is there any actual relation between the two?
0
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4answers
150 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
167 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
89 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 ...
0
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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 see ...
0
votes
1answer
98 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 ...
0
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2answers
120 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
637 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
103 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
85 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
298 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
votes
3answers
101 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
868 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 《出师表》,...
4
votes
2answers
144 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, deal/...
0
votes
1answer
87 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
129 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
284 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
votes
4answers
673 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
vote
1answer
131 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
votes
1answer
87 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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vote
2answers
89 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?
8
votes
4answers
672 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
votes
2answers
197 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
votes
1answer
260 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: http://chineseetymology.org/CharacterEtymology....
4
votes
2answers
414 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
158 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
589 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
82 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
91 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 ...
9
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6answers
281 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。 提出计划、方法和建议的文件或记录:档~。备~。议~。提~。...
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
62 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
229 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
514 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 yes-...
2
votes
4answers
408 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
votes
8answers
454 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
votes
1answer
41 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
349 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 ...
1
vote
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?
3
votes
2answers
156 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
274 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
votes
1answer
93 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。 ②顺着次序:~补。~变。~增。~...