On a recent trip to Taiwan, I noticed that the MRT platforms there are labelled 月台 (yuetai / yuètái). Asking a professional tour guide (Taiwanese local, native Chinese speaker) only revealed that he'd never been asked that question, but he didn't have an answer for me.

Googling around, I found the following synonym: zhàntái ( 站台 ) - Han trainer dictionary, which sounds more understandable (platform for standing). However, I don't see any connection between MRT platforms and months or moons. There doesn't seem to even be a link to shape, as the platforms are straight. (The 'queue-up' lines drawn on the ground are often L-shaped - that's closer to a moon shape.)

Here are some links to photos containing the phrase:

My question: What does 月 refer to in the Taiwanese phrase for MRT platform, 月台?

  • not restricted to Taiwan, see any dictionary, general Chinese railway station term,bkrs.info/slovo.php?ch=%E6%9C%88%E5%8F%B0 (corresponding to "receiving dock")
    – user6065
    Feb 2, 2019 at 15:52
  • @user6065 Thank you. Any idea what 月 refers to?
    – Lawrence
    Feb 2, 2019 at 16:36
  • might presumably refer to its shape cf. 月琴
    – user6065
    Feb 2, 2019 at 20:35
  • Thanks @user6065.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 2, 2019 at 23:39
  • 1
    @user6065 No. It just refers to the moon. 月台 just means "moon-watching platform", and later extends its meaning to any platforms.
    – Victor
    Feb 3, 2019 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


None of the references is very authoritative, but all of the search results agree with each other, that 月台 for 'railway platform' is an extended meaning from its original meaning 'moon-watching balcony' which refers to a platform that protrudes from a building.

月台 (建筑样式) 编辑 讨论 在古时建筑上,正房、正殿突出连着前阶的平台叫“月台”,月台是该建筑物的基础,也是它的组成部分。由于此类平台宽敞而通透,一般前无遮拦,故是看月亮的好地方,也就成了赏月之台。而现代的月台通常指进入火车站后方便旅客上火车的一段与火车车门踏步平行的平台。





  • Thanks! The moon-watching platform etymology sounds reasonable.
    – Lawrence
    Feb 2, 2019 at 23:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.