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致 yet another foggy character that is also frequently encountered. Below are the words listed I am seeing it in. Standard translation gives 2 meanings – adj. delicate, and v. deliver, cause. Radicals -> 至 arrive + ⺙ knock Is there any specific clue that would help to grasp its real meaning ?

导致 - result in (maybe to lead to result?), 此致 - sincerely (??), 致富 - get rich (maybe to cause the richness?), 致志 – dedicated (??), 一致 – consistent (??), 致命 – fatal (??),

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Assuming you're talking about the meaning of character 致, then in this case 致 (zhì) means "to send, deliver, present; to cause". Now how did this character acquire those meanings? I should start off by explaining the glyph origin about this character.


enter image description here

(zhì; to send, to deliver, to present, to cause) [Baxter-Sagart OC: /*t < r > i[t]-s/] originally depicted a person (人) with an emphasized foot (止, this component was not present in the more earlier bronze forms) to convey the notion of a person sending or delivering something as delivering something would usually require one to walk. The meaning and sound component 至 (zhì; to arrive) [Baxter-Sagart OC: /*ti[t]-s/] is also added to reinforce the idea of delivering something.

至 (zhì; to arrive) [Baxter-Sagart OC: /*ti[t]-s/] originally depicted an arrow (矢, here rotated upside into enter image description here) hitting ground (一).

Further development into this character, the 人 and 止 component was later corrupted into unrelated component 攵 and/or in some cases depending on the font used, the person was removed from the character and the foot (止) remained, here reanalyzed into 夊, which also depicts a foot albeit pointing downwards.

So from there, the original meaning of this character is "to deliver to", which is still one of the modern meanings used today.

The meaning of this character later shifted to its other meanings "to send", "to present", and "to cause" (because delivering is an action that causes a result.). When used as a simplified character, it will gain the additional meanings "fine; delicate; exquisite" from 緻.

I hope this helped you! :)


Sources used:

  • Outlier Linguistics Dictionary of Chinese Characters
  • Wiktionary
  • zdic (漢典)
  • zi.tools
  • 小學堂
  • 季旭昇《說文新證》p.467-468, p.829
  • 漢語多功能字庫
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致 in zi.tools | 致 in zdic.net

It originally means "send to". The theory on the website says: 夊 (the writing is slightly different from 攵, because hanzi changes over time, and it's possible to have any kind of mistakes. Usually, 攵 comes from 攴 meaning hit.) is "walking slowly", and 至 is just the "zhi" sound. Although I really think 至 and 致 have many similarities in meaning, it's better to trust the scholars.

Think about "send to" or "to" or "arrive" and associate with similar meanings.

associate to "arrive" and "cause", and 导致 and 致富 is clear. They mean "conduct-arrive" and "arrive-rich".

associate to "to the extreme", and 专心致志 is clear. It literally means "single-heart-extreme-will".

associate to "destination" and 一致 is clear. It literally means "one-destination".

致命 I'm not very sure. (In fact I'm not sure of any of this, because I'm not a linguist.) I think it might mean "extreme-life" like It's so extreme It's fatal. Or "arrive-life" like arrives the fatal critical line.

此致 is "here-send" or "here-terminate". The first possibility is usually "此致敬礼" meaning "here-send-salute", and the second is "here-(the letter)-terminates". It's quite a coincidence that it can be used in two ways.

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  • thanks a lot :)
    – George
    Commented Apr 28 at 14:04
  • 致命 is probably best interpreted as "delvering the order", with execution implied, thus "causing one's (eventual) fate". Note that in e.g. the Book of Rites (禮記), it most often referred to delivering any instruction.
    – Michaelyus
    Commented Apr 29 at 10:46
  • Michaelyus Are you sure about this? I know this meaning, but according to my intuition, I don't think this is how the word came to be. It could be the collision of two distinct meanings.
    – ZhenRanZR
    Commented Apr 29 at 13:54

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