5

丼 is an ancient variant of 井, which means "well" (as in the water kind). What's curious is that the former seems to also mean "bowl of food", at least in some dictionaries:

汉典:

English

bowl of food; well

Wiktionary:

Noun

  1. variant of '井'

  2. bowl of food

  3. well

  4. Sound of something falling in a well. Ref: 《集韻》:「丼:投物井中聲。」

  5. Throwing or littering something to lower position.

Also, this definition survives in Japanese, where 丼 is pronounced "don".

How did the character get such a seemingly-unrelated definition?

  • Well, what does well have to do with well? It happens in other languages too! – Roman Reiner Mar 20 '15 at 6:14
3

This guy gdfsljz made a post in the zdic forums I think it quite enlightening 丼 [汉字资料]:

粤方言中,此字则解释为粤语中dump的正字。贵州苗族中,有格丼(bong)一地,是苗语中圣地的意思。由于丼字是冷僻字,为了便于宣传,当地政府已将其改为格凸。字典解释[编辑本段]辞海:其一念 jǐng/ㄐㄧㄥˇ,即井字的古字;其二念 dǎn/ㄉㄢˇ,即东西投到井里的声音。语源由来辞典(日本):丼とは、食物を盛る茶碗より厚手で深い陶制の钵。どんぶり钵。また、どんぶり钵に入れた料理。(大意为:盖饭、比盛食物的碗更深的陶制钵。 丼钵,丼另外放进丼钵的菜。)字源考究[编辑本段]中文丼字来源篆体,因华北平原土厚井深,站在井口俯视,黑洞幽邃,唯见天光投影,圆圆一点。若无这个亮点,那就是没水的涸井,丼了。 日文里,丼字是来源江戸时代,说「悭贪屋(けんどんや)」是一家充满着单份的饮食东西的店,这里使用的钵叫做「悭贪振り钵(けんどんぶりばち)」,于是就把这种钵简称为され「どんぶり钵」(比盛食物的碗更深的陶制钵)。悭贪指吝啬,贪得无厌的的这种意思,所以在「悭贪屋(けんどんや)」吃「どんぶり钵」,可以引申指那些为人又吝啬又欲望深的家伙。日文字典中同样解释说:汉字「丼」是「井」的本字,字面意思为向深井中投入物体时产生的拟音词,日文中采用「丼」作为どんぶり的中文写发更进一步表示了「大碗钵」(的深)。丼与井[编辑本段]《说文解字注》第五篇下的「丼」字小篆,中间有一点,显示《说文》认为「丼」 为井字的初形。《说文》对 的解释为 :「八家为一 ,象构韩形。…古者伯益初作井 。」, 并认为中间那一点 「象罋」。然而,在李孝定(1965)编纂的《甲骨文字集释》内 ,甲骨文皆作「井」,中间没有一点。在已知的卜辞中,此字皆用于「井方」、「帚井」等处,都没有用来指涉水井。至于周代的金文,根据周法高(1982)编纂的《金文诂林》与 《金文诂林补》,就区分为「井」与「丼」两形。井字在很多地方可以通假作「刑」或 「型」,也用来作为地名或人名。「井」和「丼」两字截然有别,但都找不到一种用法是指涉「水井」的。根据全广镇(1989) 《两周金文通假字研究》(页205 )与吴其昌(1991) 《金文世族谱》(卷二页五至六、卷一页十八至十九),中间有一点的「丼」,皆与姜姓之奠 (郑) 氏有关 ,例如 壶之「丼公」、 鼎之「丼叔」。中间无一点的井字,与「邢」字相通 ,受封者是周公之后,为姬姓 ,例如麦鼎之「井侯」。虽然在甲骨文卜辞与钟鼎铭文中,都找不到作为水井之用的井字,但是《说文》也确指「丼」字是「井」字的初形。我们还不知道 ,究竟是在周代分化为二字,或是水井的「丼」在甲骨文里本来中间就有一点 ,只是因没有用在地名或人名上,所以才未在卜辞中留下记录。如果是后者,那有可能「井」字的原义就是「效法」或「规范」 ,并由此引申出「阱」、「刑」、「型」等字。 丼字如果是从井字衍申而来,本来或许是写作「丼」,从水从井。此字见于甲骨文,但不见于《说文》,在后来的《集韵》与《玉篇》中,此字解作「小水」,或假借作「阱」。可能是再由「丼」简化作「丼」,中间那一点并非如《说文》所说的是「象罋」。这只是个猜想,目前还没有直接的证据来证实或否证。 日本盖饭的来历[编辑本段]曼谷王朝自1728年在湄南河东岸另辟新都建朝至今,湄南河曼谷西岸一段就被统称为吞武里(Thonburi )地区,就像上海的浦东一样。曼谷王朝之前,泰国处于有着中国血统的郑王(King Taksin)统治下的吞武里王国时代。据说那个时候,吞武里王国出口了很多瓷器到日本。盛盖浇饭用的盖碗往往来自吞武里王国,所以日本人就把盖碗饭叫成了Thonburi饭。由于日语人发音常常T、D不分的缘故,Thonburi 在日本人口中成了Donburi,后来又简称为Don了

As it comes from Japanese, the Japanese meaning of the character was, seemingly, originally to do with food.

Quite a messy history, really.

  • The last part about Thonburi is doubtful. They didn't export porcelain to Japan - that's just wrong. – neubau Mar 21 '15 at 14:47
  • 1
    Could you please summarise the text in english? – congusbongus Mar 22 '15 at 8:38
  • My Japanese is not the best but the line, "丼とは、食物を盛る茶碗より厚手で深い陶制の钵" seems to suggest that '丼' is a vessel or container that is used to hold food and is thicker and deeper than the bowl used to serve tea made from porcelain? – Michael Lai Mar 22 '15 at 22:20
  • @congusbongus uh, yuh, I'll get to that later, – user3306356 Mar 23 '15 at 5:10
0

"Well" and "The sound of something thrown into a well" are the original Chinese meaning of "丼".

The meaning of "Bowl of food" is adopted from Japan, though such usage is rare outside Japanese restaurants.

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