Any easy way or background why Well + knife is Punishment? Knife is related punishment, but after killing with knife any history to through them in the well?

wikitionary details about 刑:

Originally written as 㓝, phono-semantic compound (形聲, OC *ɡeːŋ): phonetic 井 (OC *skeŋʔ) + semantic 刂. Later corrupted as ⿰幵刂, phono-semantic compound (形聲, OC *ɡeːŋ): phonetic 幵 (OC *kŋeːn) + semantic 刂.

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    井 is phonetic, so it hints at the sound of 刑. Well doesn't have anything to do with the character.
    – dROOOze
    Apr 2, 2021 at 9:01
  • So xing sound comes from jing. So only phonetic portion from. Thanks
    – user27485
    Apr 2, 2021 at 9:41

2 Answers 2


The phonetic component doesn't always contribute any meaning to the character meaning most of the time. Mother 妈 definitely has nothing to do with a horse!

If you want a sort of mnemonic to remember the meaning you can think of 井 looking like a frame of a pillory (those wooden boards with holes to hold a prisoner's head and hands). Those objects usually humiliates the prisoners as a form of punishment.





  1. 整齐,有秩序:~然。~~有条。




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  • I am pasting translation. Actually what shù Owen mentioned in his book?” Xing According to Shuowen Jiezi, the left side of Xing was really a "well" in ancient times. Well, law also. Note that the "well" here is not a well, but a "tidy and orderly" well Neat and orderly: ~ Ran. ~ ~ There is an article. Check Jing's Shuo Wen Jie Zi again, you will find that there are (Don) Eight houses are one don It may be an earlier management system in ancient times. It looked like a nine-square grid, with no people living in the open space in the middle, and it looked neat and tidy.
    – user27485
    Apr 2, 2021 at 13:06
  • 丼 is 井, and is pronounced , of course, as jing. Don is Japanese pronunciation, not Chinese pronunciation.
    – joehua
    Apr 3, 2021 at 2:20
  • "八家為一丼" is called 井田制度. It's a famous system used in Zhou dynasty. A piece of square land is divided into 9 blocks. Eight families farm the nine blocks. The harvest from the peripheral eight blocks, which are called 私田, belongs to the individual family who farm it. The harvest from the center block, which is called 公田, belongs to the aristocrat who owns the land. Ancient Chinese were so smart. They ended up concentrating on their 私田 and paid little attention to 公田. This eventually lead to the demise of the system.
    – joehua
    Apr 3, 2021 at 2:21

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