Reading 誤's etymology spurred me to read 吳's etymology. Shouting doesn't require you to tilt your head, so why was 夨 used? Why not just use 人?

Glyph origin

Ideogrammic compound (會意):  (“mouth”) +  (“man with tilted head”) – to speak loudly.


  1. † to speak loudly; to shout
  2. big
  3. (historical) (~國) one of the Warring States
  4. (historical) (~國) Eastern Wu, one of the Three Kingdoms
  5. the territory those states held, around the Yangtze delta
  6. Wu; the Chinese dialects of that territory, including Suzhounese and Shanghainese


  7. A surname​.

    / [Min Nan]  ―  Gô͘ Chok-tòng [Pe̍h-ōe-jī]  ―  Goh Chok Tong (Singapore's second Prime Minister; currently Emeritus Senior Minister)

  8. (~) a harbor in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan

1 Answer 1


This question is actually a good example of why Ancient Chinese scribes cannot keep on drawing pictures to represent words. They can avoid similar-looking or similar-meaning character components to a degree to distinguish between different words, but at some stage, it will become easier to incorporate a component which refers to the sound of a word rather purely relying on the meaning of a word.

Person (人) + mouth (口) has already been used for the character 「兄」.

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Front view of a person (大, no tilted head) + mouth (口) has already been used for the following character:

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