The characters for 'buy' and 'sell', seem to have a subtle difference in the character.

  • 買/买 (buy)
  • 賣/卖 (sell)

I want to know, what's the significance of the radial on top of the sell? How does adding that change 'buy' into 'sell'?

  • 1
    The two does not pronounce the same. 买(mǎi) and 卖(mài) are different. – iBug Aug 25 '17 at 11:48
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of Mnemonic for differentiating 买 and 卖 – user4072 Aug 25 '17 at 14:18
  • check 字源字形 of zdic.net – Daniel Yang Aug 28 '17 at 23:33

The original form of the top part of 賣 is 出.



出:拿出 take out
物:物品 goods
貨:交易 to trade

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市:做買賣。to trade

買 refers to the commodity trading activities, both "to buy and to sell", and later refers specifically to purchase transactions.

source: 《康熙字典》《字源》

  • Is the first character bone script? – udidosa Aug 26 '17 at 11:56
  • It's noted below the word, 《说文》小篆, which is 《说文解字》小篆体, small seal script. – SLS Aug 26 '17 at 12:33

Your post has typo,

Should be like:

买/買(buy) 卖/ 賣 (sell)

The former one is the simplified Chinese, the later one is traditional Chinese, the 1st pair simply means "buy" or "purchase", the 2nd pair means "sell"

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