Recently after coming across the character 建 (jiàn; build, establish, erect, found), I've just happened to think about it's component 廴 (yǐn; long stride) and I've been kind of debating on its origins.

Now, I'm aware that 廴 comes from 彳 with a long stroke at the end to convey it's meaning "long stride", but personally for me, I'm not too convinced with this idea because of a few reasons:

    1. According to Ji Xusheng in 《說文新證》, 廴 is a component that was artificially created by the Shuowen Jiezi in order to look at glyphs that had the 廴 shape in it.
    1. Also according to 《說文新證》, it was also mentioned that 延 was written as 𢓊 [彳止]/辵 in the oracle bone and bronze inscriptions, in which I don't partially believe this at all. I know there's a distinguishing mark that was added on top of 延 to distinguish it from 𢓊/辵 but other that, I can't find other characters in past scripts in which 廴 was used to depict a "long stride". In fact this is the only character (延) I know which carries this meaning and probably explains why the Shuowen Jiezi analyzed 廴 as being from 彳. For reference on this, compare 𢓊 with 辵 being used as a component in 逆 (ancient forms from zi.tools): enter image description here enter image description here
    1. 廴's meaning of "long stride" probably came from a phonetic loan or had it's meanings borrowed from 延 when Xu Shen was analyzing this component.

Now, the explaination that I believe might be true is that 廴 probably was originally a picture of a corner of a room or a building and it's meaning "long stride" was a rebus. I can't really draw this conclusion from my research (since I'm only a hobbyist linguistic and not really a professional) but I'm starting to feel convinced about this because 廴's role as a component in oracle bone and bronze scripts seem to always depict an L-shape as seen in 建 and 廷 (marked in red): enter image description here enter image description here

At the moment, I'm kind of feeling lost here at a dead end figuring out if 廴 really depicted the corner of a room/building. So if I could, some clear up here on my research would be appreciated!

Also to add on, I've did take a look at the ancient forms of 延 and it does really seem like it's really just 辵 with an additional mark on top of 止.

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    As you've seen from 《說文新證》, 「廴」 (yǐn; long stride) is a made-up Shuowen definition taking the meaning of 「延」 and sound of 「引」. 「延」 also does not share components with 「建」 (the latter's bottom-left is derived from 「𠃊」, not 「廴」; see e.g. 《說文新證》2014 pp. 135-136, 869). Then, there would be no character which uses 「廴」 for the meaning long stride (because 「廴」 was created after the characters which purportedly contain it) and the question "whether 「廴」 depicted the corner of a room/building" starts from some wrong assumptions.
    – dROOOze
    Commented Apr 26 at 22:43
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    @dROOOze Ah, I see now. I've just taken a further look into character 建 and it seems like the component in that character is 𠃊 and not 廴. I think I definitely messed up on the part assuming 廴 is a depiction of the corner of a room/building since looking further into it, 廴 just seems to be a fairly common corrupted shape from 𠃊, kind of like how 丮 always get corrupted into 丸 (e.g. 孰, 執, 埶).
    – prismcool
    Commented Apr 26 at 23:25

1 Answer 1


For clarification, I'm no expert on character origins but after some digging around, this is what I've come up with.

Let us start by examining "彳". As you've pointed out, this seems to be the origins of "廴", but where did 彳 come from?

Well it turns out that 行, was originally drawn as shown below, to depict open roads. 彳 is used as a simplified version of 行 which retains the same meaning but its shape no longer conveys the same meaning pictorially. image of xing

廴 is a variation of 彳 and perhaps come from the desire to bring back the "pathroads" quality in physical appearance.

Observe the similarities between the two 彳 image of chi and 廴 image of yin

So, I am inclined to believe that "long stride" is indeed an inadequate description for this glyph. I would like to say that the meaning of 廴 is still related to path, but I cannot say for sure.

  • Thanks for your speculation though! I'm still doubting that 廴 probably did not come from 彳 however since 廴 seems to be created from 彳 and this only had happened one time from a single character. I'm still doing my research but I guess that seems like a reasonable explanation. Still don't know though if 廴 itself was a picture of a building or the corner of a room.
    – prismcool
    Commented Apr 26 at 19:02

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