Question: Is there any relationship between 田, 由, 甲, and 申?

  • (tián) = field; it seems rarely used
  • (yóu) = ???; I've only seen it as a radical for (yóu) = oil
  • (jiǎ) = nails, as in fingernails 手指甲 (shǒuzhǐjiǎ); it's also a radical in 鸭子 (yāzi) = duck
  • (shēn) = ???; I've seen it used in 申请 (shēnqǐng) = application

The characters appear similar, so I tend to get them confused often. It might be there's a reason these characters are similar which might help me remember them better (or there might be no meaningful relationship).

  • cf。日加一笔可以变成什么字?zhidao.baidu.com/question/177588211.html – user6065 Jun 1 '17 at 3:15
  • don't see modern glyph, we should see original glyph instead. enter your characters at zdic.net/z/1f/zy/7531.htm to check the most ancient glyph. – Daniel Yang Jun 7 '17 at 4:28
  • No meaningful relationship. 由 is contentious in its meaning. The upper surrounding box in 甲 was a Shang king royalty mark (the character 甲 was almost identical in shape to the ancient 七 and modern 十 without the box), and without this box it was a picture of marks on split bark/outer seed coatings > hard outer coating > nail, armour. 申 is the original character for 电 (/*lˤi[n]-s/), and depicts forked lightning; the meaning extend (/*l̥i[n]/) is a semantic extension. – dROOOze Apr 15 '20 at 17:43

The origin of 田 was a pictograph of a rice field

http://www.zdic.net/z/1e/zy/7530.htm rice field

The primary meaning of 田 is 'rice field'


The origin of 由 was a pictograph of a sprout

http://www.zdic.net/z/1f/zy/7531.htm oil lamp

The primary meaning of 由 is 'from; begin with'


The origin of 甲 was a pictograph of the intersection of a planted armor

http://www.zdic.net/z/1f/zy/7532.htm planted armor

The primary meaning of 甲 is 'armor; top class'


The origin of 申 was a pictograph of a man kneeing with pleading hands (to plead to gods)

http://www.zdic.net/z/1f/zy/7533.htm man kneeing with pleading hands

The primary meaning of 申 is 'plead'


They are not related.

In Oracle bone script, they are completely different shapes.

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