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臾 (yu2) in classical Chinese means "for a while". I assume "for a while" was not the original meaning this character was associated with in the time when it came, by what mysterious brain activity ever, into this world. The oldest depiction of this character seem to be composed of hands reaching for a person.

Is "for a while" already the oldest retraceable meaning for this character or is there an older one?

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i wonder what erich von däniken or david icke would have to tell about this character?

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    Why would you assume things without any evidence or rational reasoning whatsoever? – Semaphore Oct 30 '14 at 2:55
  • i ve found this character in a list of characters sorted by their frequency in classical chinese, i did not need much "rational reasoning" for moving my eyes from left to right. There is reasoning in the assumption since "for a while" is not a concept easily expressed graphically, but maybe an already existing character with another meaning but a similar sound might be used provisional in a rebus like fashion for this concept. – meireikei Oct 30 '14 at 3:11
  • Yes, I was obviously referring to why you think there is an older meaning. You made a good point the comment, and this would have been a better question if you included such reasoning in your post. I'm not sure why you are so defensive about "moving eyes left to right", which I never mentioned. – Semaphore Oct 30 '14 at 3:21
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臾 is actually a verb meaning "to tie up and drag", hence what the character looked like. But it can be used together with as a noun, i.e. as 須臾, to mean "a while". This practice emerged by the Warring States era and so is just about as ancient as the time the character took definitive shape..

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《說文》:草器也。古象形。

清代段玉裁『說文解字注』:束縛捽抴爲臾曳

  • means "tie and draw" (in ancient time, tie grasses)

After all there are derived meaning,

《集韵》:臾,善也。

  • also means "FINE"

reference: http://www.zdic.net/z/22/js/81FE.htm

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臾is used to describe a place too by the meaning of the place is too small:一隅之地 (as a "通假字").

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