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).


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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