Reading a little about 'dark matter': 暗物质是宇宙的重要组成部分,它是一种比电子和光子还要小的物质,不带电荷, ....

I read: 不带电荷:doesn't carry an electric lotus! (Maybe that's why it's dark!!)

电荷: electrical charge, literally probably: electricity carry or hold

Apparently 荷 meant lotus first:Original meaning 本义: Meaning lotus.

One meaning of 荷 from zdic.net

(8) 荷:拿,持 [hold]。如:荷杖(拄着拐杖)

Maybe 荷 got this meaning of 'hold, carry' because the Buddha is often pictured sitting on a lotus?

How did this meaning arise?

2 Answers 2


Note that in today's Putonghua 荷 meaning "lotus" is hé (the 2nd tone) and meaning "carry" is hè (the 4th tone).

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字源 (the image above) and a couple of other dictionaries say that the verb meaning "carry" was originally written as 何. Later 何 was borrowed to write the word meaning "what", so the written form of the verb meaning "carry" was changed into 荷 to avoid confusion. So it is a chain of borrowing!

  • I always have trouble with tones!
    – Pedroski
    Oct 13, 2020 at 22:41


2 ○ to shoulder a burden [originally written 何]

Here the ○ icon is an indicator of a phonetic loan. So, basically it is just a:

character that is "borrowed" to write another homophonous or near-homophonous morpheme

  • 核 in 核對 doesn't mean pit; 花 in 花費 doesn't mean flower. Maybe they are phonetic loan too
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 13, 2020 at 13:44

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