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Examples include 房东 or 财东 and 东道, respectively. What is the etymology behind this additional meaning?

  • You can see that the origin of 東/东道主. In ancient times, China is the oriental mainland. In TV series Journey to the West you can hear 東/东土大唐 frequently. The 東/东 means hosts come from east side and guests come from west at first, then changes to host country or person. – 賈可 Jacky Jul 20 '17 at 7:00
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東: 主人。由於古時主位在東,客位在西,所以稱主人為「   東」。如:「房東」、「店東」。

Translation: In ancient times, the host was seated to the east and the guest to the west, so the host was called "East".

reference:
http://dict.variants.moe.edu.tw/yitia/fra/fra01875.htm

Personally I have also heard it is because the Sun rises from the east, thus east is seen as the 'emic', or the 'theme'

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