Chinese meaning of 吃 From google dictionary:

  1. 动词
    咀嚼后吞咽下去(有时也指吸、喝)。  「吃饭」
  1. 动词
    吸纳(液体)。  「沙土地特别能 吃水」
  1. 动词
    消灭;吞并。  「连 吃对方三个子儿」
  1. 动词
    耗费。  「吃力」
  1. 动词 承受;受。  「身体 吃不消」
  1. 动词
    指一物体进入另一物体。  「轮船越重 吃水越深」
  1. 动词
    依靠某种事物生活。  「靠山 吃山,靠水 吃水」
  1. 动词
    领会;理解。  「吃透教材」
  1. 名词
    吃的东西。  「缺 吃少穿」

English version:


  1. eat
  2. take
  3. suffer
  4. bear
  5. live on
  6. live off
  7. fare
  8. incur
  9. stammer
  10. soak up
  11. absorb
  12. exhaust
  13. receive
  14. be a strain on


  1. eating

How did 吃 manage to get so many meanings in its history? And what is its origin?

1 Answer 1


"吃"的原義(original meaning)是"口吃,pron-ji"(stutter),即说话结结巴巴不流利.

Original composition of "吃" - 吃,形声字。从口,乞声。气,既是声旁也是形旁,表示体息、呼吸。篆文=(口,进食和发音器官)+(气,体息、呼吸),表示呼吸不畅,阻碍说话。隶化后,楷书异体字“吃”将篆文字形中的“气”省去一横,写成“乞”,表示“气短”,呼吸不畅。Ref

Note, originally the Chinese word for "eat" was “喫”, but later "吃" was accepted for having the same pronunciation (chi). All other meanings of "吃" were derived by combining it with other words to form "compound words" that bear meanings either related directly or indirectly to the act of "吃(eat)" or the use of "口(mouth)".

  • 1
    Compound words in your examples: 吃水(absorb, sink-in), 吃力(exhausting), The rests are multi-word phrases.
    – r13
    Commented Jun 28, 2022 at 0:51

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