I have seen 門 used as a 'radical' for many traditional chinese characters in Hong Kong. Is there a historical reason? I thought 門 means gate but what does gate have anything to do with 'happy', 開心 ?

  • search web -> oracledict.blogspot.com/2015/12/blog-post.html 門不只是門,門也是古漢字的注音符號
    – user6065
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 7:57
  • Would really appreciate if there is some explanation in english, thanks.
    – udidosa
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 8:22
  • cf. Yip Po-ching, The Chinese Lexicon, four basic ways in which characters are formed: (1) pictographic (象形,resembling shape) (2) picto-synthetic (会意 assembling meaning)(3)picto-logic (指事 providing the logical reference) (4)picto-phonetic (形声,integrating shape and sound) from quoted article: meaning related to door: (漢字裡有「門」字框的,我們直覺就會認為那些字一定跟門的意義相關像), 開、關、閂、 閉 ,related to pronunciation (which may have changed): (發音相關) 聞、問、悶、捫
    – user6065
    Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 10:01
  • 1. Sometimes it's a phonetic, not about meaning (e.g., 问). 2. The word for "happy" is "open" (obviously door related) + "heart". Commented Jun 28, 2017 at 18:09

2 Answers 2


On the radical 門/门

In both the traditional and simplified font script, 門/门 is a fairly common radical. Compare:

閉/闭: shut (eyes...)

間/间: interval, space...

閑/闲: fence, barrier; idle

In all these cases I find the door component very intuitive. There are of course plenty of cases where this is not the case (see the comment by user6065). The reason for your perceiving the radical as something predominantly traditional, may lie in cases such as:


where characters were replaced by rather arbitrary other characters. There are also pairs such as:


which is classified under 口 in traditional Chinese and under 门 in the PRC.

The article which user6065 posted is about explaining the usage of 門 in some characters by its ancient phonetic value. Let us see, whether he will explain it himself, before I offer my amateur's perspective.

On 開心/开心

I am no native speaker, but 開心 is composed of the characters "open" and "heart". That "open" should feature a door or gate can hardly surprise. That the combination of these words means happiness is intuitive too. In both my native languages an analogous expression exists.

Greek: Άνοιξε η καρδιά μου! German: Mir ging das Herz auf!


There isn't any relationship between door/gate and happy. When the two characters were created individually, they have respective meanings. 开/開 means to open a door/gate (门/門) first, but later the meaning extends wide. When the word 开心/開心 was created, the meaning of 开/開 isn't the original meaning of opening a door any more, like 开始/開始, 开放/開放, 开创/開創, etc.

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