I have a thought that the following 2 words’ meaning is exchanged:
1) 射
2) 短

First of all, I am not saying I AM CORRECT or I want to make changes to these words, it is merely a discussion where I think this forum is about (‘to discuss the finer points of the Chinese Language’). It's merely for fun and knowledge anyways and I want to know other's thought on it.

Here’s the argument:

射 - shoot
短 - short

(My thought):
射 - short. 身+寸 – body + inches, doesn’t that imply a body that’s only inches long, aka short?
短 - shoot. 矢+豆 – an arrow on a bean, kind of implying the action of shooting an arrow with accuracy?

I could be wrong by defining my arguement only destructing the word into parts and take their meaning, ignoring simplified Chinese / all other method of forming a word. Any thought?

  • 2
  • 1
    I really like your explanation to these two characters. If you are interested, the following two characters have exchanged meanings: 重 vs 出
    – Madwyn
    Sep 21, 2015 at 16:44
  • @Madwyn hi Madwyn, thanks! Could you clarify if 重 here (as pre-exchanged meaning) refers to "heavy", "layer", "important", or "repetition"?
    – Alex
    Sep 21, 2015 at 16:47
  • 1
    重 refers to "heavy", 出 refers to "depart" or "go out". I've learned this from an old TV program from CCTV. However, this is debatable. I think the best way to learn the truth is by looking at the ancient writings.
    – Madwyn
    Sep 21, 2015 at 16:57
  • Interesting. I will see if i've time for some googling later regarding to these 2 words. Thanks!
    – Alex
    Sep 21, 2015 at 19:55

1 Answer 1


射 was originally written 䠶, that is a body and an arrow, giving the meaning shooting. But 身 is here a phonetic component, which just happens to also have a symbolic sense. 寸 is just how the original 矢 has been distorted in writing.

短 is actually an arrow 矢 shot into a 豆, which is not a bean but some sort of vessel. Why it means short is unknown, but we can note that another word for short, 矮, also contains 矢.

  • Thanks on the explanation on 射(䠶), by distorted does it means it's been incorrectly written for too long, that 射 became the "correct" form?
    – Alex
    Sep 17, 2015 at 20:43
  • 3
    “古代弓长箭短,所以用弓的长度作为长物的标准,以箭的长度作为短物的标准。” wangjian930921.blog.hexun.com/84849426_d.html
    – NS.X.
    Sep 17, 2015 at 21:01
  • That's explains it NS.X. Thanks for the link!
    – Alex
    Sep 17, 2015 at 21:24
  • Now I can create a new one, 矢犬(shou3), 你这个 矢犬
    – sfy
    Jan 21, 2018 at 6:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.