What is the etymology of 制? how the meaning is evolved to Make, manufacture?

Ox + hand kerchief + knife becomes Make or Manufacture?

1 Answer 1


制 has no ox/bull or cloth. That left component is a corrupted version of 未. 未 is a tree with many branches, ready to be chopped down. There is 𠛐 as a variant form. Original meaning is "cut" hence the knife component 刀 on the right. After cutting down a tree, the wood obtained can be made into many different objects, thus "make" became an extended meaning. 制 furthermore had more extended meaning.

Over time, 制 became the definition for non-tangible things that can be "made" such as "regulation", "system", and "formula". "Control" 控制 was an extended meaning for the "system" definition. Another component 衣 was added at the bottom becoming 製. This took on the meaning of "make" or "manufacture" for tangible objects such as clothes and furniture.

製 is still the standard in areas that use traditional script such as Hong Kong. In PRC, 製 was removed and 制 is reused as the meaning for make and manufacture.


  • Is there any consolidated list of corrupted characters? possibly in the link?
    – user27485
    May 3, 2021 at 14:12
  • Unfortunately there isn't. You have to study the ancient writings to know their etymology to know what the original component is.
    – Fishuman
    May 4, 2021 at 12:59
  • 1
    @user27485 On Chinese StackExchange, you can search for the tag [glyph-origin] and the word corrupt*, like so: https://chinese.stackexchange.com/search?q=[glyph-origin]+corrupt*. This will come up with a list of Q/A that has been asked so far for which characters have been described as having corrupted components.
    – dROOOze
    May 4, 2021 at 21:07

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