What is the etymology of cǐ ? How this character means those, these?

  • 1
    This seems to be two unrelated questions in one, it's usually better to post them as two different questions. It's a bit unclear what you mean by the second one, since, you ask how "c" is pronounced and then give "c" as a possible answer, which means you're talking about different alphabets/transcription systems (which one I don't know, because of "q"). "c" here is the normal Pinyin "c", which is pronounced /t͡sʰ/ (IPA). That's an aspirated affricate, i.e. a stop linked to a fricative (hissing "s" sound), with aspiration (puff of air).
    – Olle Linge
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 8:03
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    Wikipedia has a pronunciation sample: upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/…
    – Olle Linge
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 8:03
  • Olle linge the pronunciation part is cleared with your explanation. Thanks. I am deleting the pronunciation part from question
    – user27485
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 15:08
  • etymology (Questions about the origin and history of Chinese words) is a related, but distinct concept from glyph-origin (Questions about the graphical origin and evolution of characters) - please clarify which one you're asking about (or if you're asking about both).
    – dROOOze
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 20:35
  • dROOOze, my intention is to know how “this” and “these”were evolved for the word 此 . I think it covers both etymology and glyph origin.
    – user27485
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 23:23

1 Answer 1




is a compound ideogram comprising 止 and 人 (匕 is a crouching man). One always infers the combined meaning of the two simpler, juxtaposed pictograms.

Multi-function Chinese Character Database adopts the explanation of the scholar Chen Chusheng: With being a pictogram for 'foot' at first and later a phonetic loan for 'to stop', the explanation for the meaning of 此 is believed to be that a man (人) arrives 'here' when he stops (phonetic loan 止) his pace (pictogram 止). 'This' and 'these' are derived meanings of 'here', which is understandably figurative.

Shuowen Jiezi however argues 'to stop' comes from the character 匕. Being one of the two 'rotated' men in 比, a man stops to compare (meaning of 比) himself with another. This is in accordance to Duan Yucai's annotation 相比次而止也.

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