Where does this character 款 come from? Its meanings (model/style or fee/payment) doesn't seem to have any link to the semantic part 欠, unless it specifically refers to owed money/payment? And what does the left component mean? I haven't seen the left side (phonetic?) component in any other character before.

  • 1
    Have you checked ?.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 8:20

4 Answers 4


Seeing as all the other answers are getting downvoted - I'll just leave this short reference here:


款 kuǎn was originally composed of 柰 nài (now written 𰧭) and 欠 “person with their mouth open,” which hints at the original meaning “to desire something that one does not have.” 柰 gave the sound (but for the reading kuài).

In 款 kuǎn, 𰧭 is an empty component. It was originally 柰 nài, which was the sound component (but for the reading kuài).

In 款, 欠 “person with their mouth open” is a meaning component, hinting at the original meaning “to desire something that one does not have.”

1 (orig.) to desire something that one does not have
2 ○ sum of money, fund
3 → wealth; wealthy person
4 → item
5 ⇒ clause in a document

  • The meaning of money/funds is again another phonetic loan, indicated by the ○ symbol on definition number two.

The reference Outlier gives here is from:

p. 768

and here is the excerpt from Ziyuan:

enter image description here

and its extracted text:


  • If you're curious about the, original, "⿰柰" portion of the character it is interesting that we can see a similar progression in 隸. This character later became: 隷. Where again ⿰柰 evolved into: ⿰𰧭.

This one makes me laugh because of the internet slang pun that can often be found associated with . Especially, here, situated next to an open mouth. But, perhaps that reinforces the desire for something you don't have.


李歀 歀 款 款

「款」 was originally written as 「歀」, and the reference in 李學勤《字源》 claims that 「款」 was constructed for a sound like /*kʰʷraːds/ (Zhengzhang OC), making 「柰」 (/*naːds/) the sound component. 「款」 was later used for /*kʰloːnʔ/ (Mandarin Pinyin: kuǎn), and 「柰」 was later corrupted into 「⿱士示」.

「款」 (empty/hollow [now written 「窾」], wanting) uses 「欠」 (to lack) as a semantic component. The common meanings in use today are most likely phonetic loans.



欠is a Independent character. 欠 can be combined with other component to form a character. The left component of 款 is not a character, it just forms part of the character(款), and it has no meaning.

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    Sorry, but this doesn't answer the question on how the components of 款 are formed. 欠 is supposed to be radical or semantic meaning, yet the meaning of 款 has no semantic link to "breathing" as most of the characters with 欠 have some sort of link to it (欲, 欺, 吹). As for the left part, I am curious how it came about because no other characters have that component, so I am unsure if it's a phonetic component, or does it add some meaning to the character 款.
    – Fishuman
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 2:38

It was a independent character from the very beginning and had nothing to do with “欠”. The earliest version of "款" we know today came from the warring states period (the left one)

enter image description here

"欠" at that time was something like "专". It became the "欠" you know today at Han dynasty (a few hundred years later). It was just a coincidence they developed into the same shape.

BTW, 款 at the beginning didn't mean "fee/payment". It meant “sincere”, and today it still has this meaning when you use words like “款款”

  • "欠" at that time was something like "专". It became the "欠" you know today at Han dynasty (a few hundred years later) You're confusing functional character components with character shapes.
    – dROOOze
    Commented Dec 13, 2020 at 8:59

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