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I am trying to revive my knowledge of Chinese, having learned it some years ago. I was flicking through my old text book and came across the phrase "放学回家以后,。。。"

I remember reciting this (thinking back, we did a lot of phrase learning without understanding the characters involved and the sentence structure :/) but now when I am trying to pick apart the sentence, I don't understand what the 放 is doing. According to Google translate and line dictionary etc, 放 means to 'put/put in'. However 放学 is 'school'. But what about 学校, which is also 'school'?

In a nutshell, what does 放 mean in the sentence?

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    you wrote: 放 means to 'put' - if you think of it as "put down" + "school" then we get to let out school or for school to be let out. – user3306356 Aug 2 '17 at 16:23
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    Another common thing with 放 is 放假 fàng jià "go on vacation". Interestingly, here the metaphor of "putting down X" (as with 放学) seems to be going in the opposite direction. – haksayng Aug 2 '17 at 16:57
  • 放学 (is even in IME editor) HSK dictionary: 放学(动)[离合词]学生上完当天的课离校(classes are over):还没~,你怎么走了?|放了学我们去打网球,好吗? – user6065 Aug 2 '17 at 21:39
  • 放 = off, let ... away, don't limit, so that 放學 = let all student go home. – Daniel Yeung Aug 3 '17 at 7:25
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放 has many meanings

http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/characters/862/

[1] let go; release; set free

[2] let out; dismiss; take leave

....

学 in 放学 short for 学校 (school)

放学(school out) simply means 'be let out of school' or 'be released from school '

Examples for 放 as 'release ; let out':

  • 放监 = be released from jail

  • 放工 = be released from work

  • 放假 = be released for day off; take leave for holiday

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