Looking for a reference.

Apparently 'hou' (pronunciation roughly similar to '候') means eat in Sichuanese, at least in some dialects.

For instance:

  • hou饭

  • 出去hou

  • hou东西

  • hou𩛲𩛲(𬲹𬲹)

  • hou酒

I've gone through about nine different dictionaries to just find a simple reference for this word, but with no luck.

A wild guess is it would be this character: 餱 but I have no way to prove that.

  • Your guess is really wild. This character stands for dry food. It's not a verb. Oct 19, 2015 at 8:28
  • Hóu 餱 does mean dry grain or grain generally. But to my mind this is not an outrageous guess, semantically speaking. Our fàn "cooked rice; food or meal in general" is first attested in the verbal sense "to eat". I don't think it's correct because of phonological issues and the question of how Sìchuān speech is related to Standard Mandarin, but I also don't think it's outrageous on semantic grounds to ask whether a noun in pre-modern texts could have verbal use in modern speech. Nov 1, 2015 at 16:17

3 Answers 3


I don't have a reference handy. But as other commenters have stated, it's probably a regional form the word that means "to drink" in Mandarin and is written 喝. Words for "to eat" and "to drink" tend to cross over a certain amount between those exact senses.

As for the sound that reminds you of hou, the open final -e in Mandarin is a rather rare sound in Chinese — it's a diphthong whose phonetics are roughly [ɯɘ] or [ɯə] in Standard Mandarin — and regional equivalents are typically forms of [o].

This meaning "to consume [food]" is a fairly recent association for the character 喝 — with the modern pronunciation , it's attested in the meanings "to frighten" and "to berate", and is seen in those meanings in old texts. There's another reading for meanings connected with choking or sounds of choking, but these uses are only found in pre-modern writing.

Though neither the word nor the character is likely to be related to 嚇 'to frighten" or 訶 "to berate".

We still use 喝 in the pronunciation to mean "to cry out", as in yāohe 吆喝 "to shout one's wares (said of peddlers)" and hècǎi 喝彩 "to cheer (as at a sports event)". The character is attested in this sense by the Sòng.


I'm a Sichuanese. I guess it's the word '喝' and the pronunciation is more like 'ho' which means "to drink".


According to http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_502f95d6010171cq.html


他们当地俗语就是把“吃饭“说成是“喝饭”,看来我是孤陋寡闻了。这让我想起四川方言中的一种说法,四川方言将“抽烟”说成吃烟,将“喝水”说成“吃水”,川人还说 吃茶,吃酒,吃汤,吃奶,看来四川人把所有进嘴的东西都叫吃,不管是液体固体还是气体,倒也省事。不仅四川话将喝水说成吃水,南方有些省份也将喝水说成“吃水”,如江西瑞金沙洲坝的红井旁就立有“吃水不忘挖井人”的碑,当然碑上的“吃水”应该是“用水”之意,大于高于一般的“吃水”,上海人也说吃烟吃水的,仔细想来,烟和水怎么能吃?“吃”这个动词有一个食物在嘴中的咀嚼过程,而喝却是直接进喉咙,吃烟?把烟放在嘴里咀嚼,那不成了异食癖吗?吃水?水是液体,进入嘴里它也不会让你有咀嚼的机会呀!所以烟只能是抽或者吸,水只能喝不能说吃,喝饭也好,吃烟吃水也罢,都得服从语法,从语法角度看,它们都是有语病的,即动宾搭配不当,在这一点上,普通话最为准确,写文章当以普通话为准,除非文章的特殊需要。

  • The first paragraph is not accepted by the author. I don't think it's a proper reference. Oct 19, 2015 at 8:21
  • Regarding usage of 吃 in south China, as a Hakka, I should say, most of people just don't understand the real character reflect to eating in southern dialect should be 食, not 吃. 食 and 吃 have the same pronunciation in Hakka. 食 comes from the ancient Chinese. Back to 50 years ago, Putonghua doesn't as popular as today, and most of people has very limited ability of character recognition and using. When they try to write down something, they can only chose the most popular ones, this may fuzzy the usage of characters.
    – thinwa
    Nov 6, 2015 at 5:23

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