As far as I know 寸 is a depiction of

a finger pointing at a wrist where one’s pulse was taken. The distance between a hand and that point is small, so this portion signified a little…

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So IMHO 寸 has the double meaning of:

  1. to measure
  2. to press

Some say 寸 has the additional meaning of "something small" (I personally doubt that, yet).

So 討 should mean 言(to talk) + 寸(to press) = to ask, to demand.

Examples: 1.討親 to marry a wife. 2.討求 ask, beg, demand, (to press on with ones desires) 3.討情 ask for leniency. 4.討伐 to suppress rebels, to vindicate authority. 5.討飯 beg for food.

So here we can see that "to press" and "to ask" are somewhat synonyms under the roof of 寸.

But 討厭? I can't understand how "to press/ask" + "dog eating meat in cave" should form a meaning of "to hate".

Does anyone know the story behind that 討厭 word?

  • 3
    You ask a lot of questions that try to derive "stories" from the Chinese characters of every word. Not all Chinese characters are a perfect fit for the words that are written with them because meanings shift and some phonetic elements really are meaningless.
    – KWeiss
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 9:29
  • I bet not every character has a story! But If some of them have, I would like to hear it. :) If you have a story then you obtain delicate tools for "hearing" different connotations in many similar charactes. That's the best part of chinese for me.
    – coobit
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 11:52

2 Answers 2


厭(厌) is a phono-semantic character. The "dog" part only indicate its pronunciation.
In Old Chinese, this character means "fulfilled". Then its meaning changed to "become bored, dislike". So 討厭 literally means "ask for + being disliked".


This link says it all. My rough translation, and really my understanding, of this source is as follows:

厭 is from 猒 (same pronunciation). In 猒, what looks to me like 日 and 月 is actually a big mouth, and sharp teeth. The dog (犬) signifies hunting. So, you hunt large beasts, and you become disgusted (sick of) eating so much meat. Over time, a cliff 厂 is added, as it's a common hunting ground.

Of course, years later, the meaning expands to include "dislike due to having too much of something".

Onto 討. This site provides etymology explanations, as well as definition. Or check out this one, where you see that in its verb form, it more or less means "to bring upon oneself".

Hope this helps.

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