On a lighter note:

Does 戒 in 戒指 mean: you can stop using your finger now you are married?

With this ring I thee wed.

  • A quick Google search reveals that it was used as a sign of "unavailability" of the woman wearing it, see this, this and this – blackgreen Aug 5 at 22:19


如《中国古代服饰风俗》中说:“为什么要把指环这种饰物称之为戒指呢?那就要从‘戒’字的含义说起了。明都 《三馀赘笔》记称:‘今世俗用金银为环,置妇人指间,谓之戒指’。按《诗》注:‘古者后妃群妾,以礼进御于君,女史书其日月,授之以环,以进退之。生子月辰,以金环退之;当御者,以银环进之,着于左手;既御者,着于右手。事无大小,记以成法,则世俗之名“戒指”者,有自来矣。’”《现代汉语词名探源词典》中也引用类似上面的一段,并说“嫔妃月经来潮之日,即戴戒指,表明不可与帝王同房。戒指即‘戒止’”。还有《中文大辞典》中的“戒指”、“指环”项,也引用了上述说法。

Apparently, concubines wore a ring when their period came to let the emperor know coitus wasn't an option and this is where the name came from.

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Mo provides good source to explain where the phrase 戒指 comes from.




The interesting thing is 戒指 and 戒止 having exact same sound. (keep this in mind)

The basic logic is: The RING(金环 银环) on concubines' FINGER -> Means 戒止(like Mo said: emperor know coitus wasn't an option) -> 止 and 指 have same sound -> Later generations extended by using 指 to replace 止 to give the RING a name 戒指 instead of using 金环 银环.

戒指, 戒子, 指環 all means ring in general.

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  • 1
    Things weren't too bad for the Emperor, he still had 2999 other wives to visit! – Pedroski Aug 6 at 22:06

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