Recently, I registered to a running tracker app. The app required me to fill some personal information and two of them were my 体重 (weight) and 身高 (height).

I wonder why one uses 体 while the other one uses 身. Both can mean "body" but I just wonder why it isn't 体高/身重.

Could somebody please explain?

  • 體高 isn’t as common but it exists. – dROOOze Apr 8 '19 at 5:10

身高 is short for 身體高度

體重 is short for 身體重量

身體 can be shortened to either 身 or 體

Therefore, 身重 and 體高 are also legitimate shortened forms of 'body weight' and 'body height'

Especially 體高-- it is the proper term for describing the height of non-human object.

For example: 體高 in "高達體高18米" (Gundam's height is 18M) is the correct term, because Gundam is a machine, not a person

We use 身高 and 體重 far more often than 身重 and 體高 when describing a human's height and weight, eventually, no one use 身重 and 體高 to describe a human's height and weight anymore.

  • "高達體高18米"? I wonder why not just say "高達高18米". – joehua Jul 14 '20 at 23:10
  • @Michael Lai 高達 (Gundam) is a noun, the name of a maned giant robot weapon. The official name is Mobile-suit Gundam – Tang Ho Jul 15 '20 at 0:40

身 is the main part of your body. 体 is the whole body. 身 should not include your arms. Think about that if you put up your hands over your head, you becomes higher but that is invalid because arms are branch of your body. 体 includes all your part of the whole body. So 体重 includes the weight of all parts of your body.

Actually, even if you say 身重/体高. We can also understand the meaning, just feel a little strange. So it's just a habit. Maybe in the ancient, they are different and everyone think 身高/体重 is correct. Now even we don't distinguish them, we still say 身高/体重 but no one knows why.

  • 1
    You say: "身 is the main part of your body." If it is the case, 体 should also refer to main body only. I am sure '身' in '自身難保' doesn't mean only the main part of your body is in danger. My point is, even 身 does refer to the main body, it's meaning had extended to referring the whole person – Tang Ho Apr 10 '19 at 15:33
  • Perhaps that's why we say 身体 to mean unmistakably the whole body? Just a thought. Please don't jump on my 身 or my 体. – Wayne Cheah Jul 15 '20 at 3:48
  • It is the advantage of using the compound word 身体 over 身 or 体 when you want to be specific – Tang Ho Jul 15 '20 at 7:03

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