I know this topic has - kind of - been discussed over here: What etymology dictionaries are available?

(In order to avoid seeming like I'm advertising for anyone I will refrain from mentioning where I heard this but...)

I once heard an explanation of the character 取 talking about how it came from the character 馘 (meaning: to cut off the left ear of the slain in battle) - and how the meaning of 馘 is visually represented in the character 取 (an ear + a hand) now meaning 'to take'

Where would one go to find this type of etymological explanations?

1 Answer 1


zdic.net is an authoritative resource: http://www.zdic.net/z/16/xs/53D6.htm


However, I don't think it is true that 取 developed from 聝 and 馘, they have always been separate characters, even though Shuowen (same site) indicates that 取 has also been used in that sense: 捕取也。从又从耳。《周禮》:“獲者取左耳。”《司馬法》曰:“載獻聝。”聝者,耳也。七庾切。

  • Well if I wanted to know about zdic I could have just looked in my browser history - or the list of answers in the question I pasted at the top. Cheers.
    – Mou某
    May 18, 2014 at 6:53
  • is there offline access to this material? In an iphone app or something? Something that doesn't require and internet connection?
    – Mou某
    May 18, 2014 at 7:10
  • Wenlin or some other software. For Iphone, there is always Pleco, but etymological resources may not be free, if they exist at all.
    – user4452
    May 18, 2014 at 7:13

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