Questions tagged [etymology]

Questions about the origin and history of Chinese words. Use [glyph-origin] for the origin of characters.

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176 views

Why's 馬 (horses) the semantic component of 騙 (to fool, to defraud)?

I don't understand how horses (馬) appertain to deceiving and swindling (騙). I'm uneducated on horses. Is there evidence that horses swindle humans or other horses? And I don't understand how the ...
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5answers
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What is the exact meaning of 吃豆腐, and where does the expression come from?

I'm not talking about eating tofu, but the expression that means something more like taking advantage of someone. What exactly does 吃豆腐 mean, and where does this expression come from?
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How do (did) you remember the meaning for 迫(廹)?

迫:coerce, force, compel; urgent What are the tricks you use to memorize its meanings?
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2k views

How is adding oil going to beneficial to the situation? 加油

Is anyone able to explain the history behind this cheer? At the face of it I'm unsure how this could be a cheer as 加 translate to add/plus/apply and 油 translates to oil/fat/grease you would think ...
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7answers
818 views

Why is there a 就 in 迁就?

迁就 (qiān​jiù​) CC-CEDICT: to yield / to adapt to / to accommodate to (sth) Breaking this apart, we have: 迁 (qiān​) CC-CEDICT: to move / to shift / to change (a position or location etc) / to promote ...
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1answer
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What is the origin of the word 鬻?

The word 鬻 (yù) appears to originate as a joint pictogram from: 粥 depicting the rice and two whirls of steam on the sides 鬲 (pronounced lì?) a cooking vessel Later 粥 alone came in use to express the ...
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2answers
94 views

In 淘, how does its semantic component 氵appertain to 'naughty'?

淘's semantic compound is 氵 (“water”). But how does "water" relate to "naughty; mischievous"? Above is Yellowbridge. Below is CUHK.
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70 views

How does 翻's 2021 meanings appertain to 羽?

I don't understand how 羽 (wings) relate to the 8 definitions of 翻 below. What's the semantic field of 翻? How does 羽 (wings) relate to 翻's semantic field? Above is Yellowbridge. Below is Oxford ...
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1answer
65 views

How does 添's 2021 meanings appertain to its semantic component 水?

This feels like the opposite of 减/減 (Reduce/Subtract/Decrease/Diminish): What's it got to do with water?. I read 演 = 氵+ 寅 but what's it got to do with water!? How did it get its modern ...
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89 views

Why does 項 signify both 'item' and 'neck'?

I hope it's obvious why, but I don't think of "necks" as items. I can't imagine "neck" as as part of a "list, collection or set." Why? Because I'm not trying to separate ...
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How does 雅's 2021 meanings appertain to 隹?

I don't understand how 隹 relates to definitions A-C below. Definition A.1. Are short-tailed birds standard in China? I'm no ornithologist. Definition A.2. Again, I don't deal with birds. I'm ...
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239 views

What's the difference between etymology and glyph origin?

Askers, including me, often seem to confuse the two terms, and understanding the distinction between the two is so critical to advanced study of Chinese characters and words. The question can probably ...
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Chinese character etymology

Can you recommend books that offer a holistic approach to character learning and which are Firmly grounded in etymological research? My level is HSK4 (old version) and I want to learn characters using ...
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1answer
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Etymology of 制 zhì = make, manufacture

What is the etymology of 制? how the meaning is evolved to Make, manufacture? Ox + hand kerchief + knife becomes Make or Manufacture?
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Any mnemonic for 摔 shuāi = fall & etymology for 率

The word 摔 means fall: 摔 shuāi to fall, tumble, lose one’s balance Generally the fall action comes with leg, although hand also related. any mnemonic or story to remember this? Gugg had given good ...
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719 views

What is a “sound loan”?

I am going through Outlier dictionary for character 求: 求 depicts a centipede or millipede, indicating the original meaning “myriapod (a type of insect with a lot of legs).” It was borrowed for its ...
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394 views

How does 稱's 2021 meanings appertain to its semantic component 禾?

CUHK doesn't expound the semantic shift from 禾. I underlined definition 4 below in green, because I know that rice and grains may need to be weighed. But I don't understand how definition 4 relates ...
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3answers
876 views

Etymology of 奇 and 怪

I am going through the word 奇. Mandarin Temple had mentioned, learning hint as “a person riding a horse”. Is this only learning hint? Or is it also etymologically correct? What is the exact etymology ...
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1answer
53 views

Understanding glyph origin of 勤 better

I have the following etymology from Outlier Dictionary of Chinese Characters: 勤 qín is composed of 堇 jǐn “a type of ancient punishment in which fire was used to dry a person out” and 力 “force, power, ...
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1answer
51 views

Glyph origin for 㐆 and Mnemonic for 殷

Came across through the word 殷勤. could you please help with Glyph origin for : 㐆yǐn to follow, to trust to, to put confidence in, to depend on, to turn around Any any mnemonic to remember this? 殷 yīn ...
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70 views

Glyph origin or any mnemonic for 蕴?

I failed to remember the meaning for the word 蕴含 yùnhán. Is any mnemonic or story or etymological hints to remember 蕴?
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107 views

不自量力 can this be used to under estimate one’s capabilities also?

I understand the meaning of 量 is measure, estimate. But how the capacity also was the meaning? any background, etymology? 量 liàng measure, estimate, capacity, quantity 不自量力 bùzìliànglì not have a ...
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Retention of 其 as a modal particle in modern Chinese

There is a recent Chinese Stack Exchange question on the significance of 其 in 尤其, given the meaning of the word is largely contributed by 尤. I am quite confident that some of the answers in the thread ...
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Why doesn't 虛 contradict 謙虛?

Definition D for 虛 lists "vainly". Unquestionably, "vainly" is the opposite of "modesty". And "modesty" implies that you possess something valuable, like ...
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393 views

In “一网打尽” what does 尽 mean?

一网打尽 yīwǎngdǎjìn lit. to catch everything in the one net. In this sentence what does 尽 means? how to easily remember the meaning by seeing the character without wild guess and imagining etymological ...
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185 views

Why's 言 the semantic component of 謙?

I don't understand how 言 ("to say"; "speech", "words") relates to modesty. Language, speech, words can be used to boast, exaggerate, and lie! Above is Yellowbridge. ...
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1answer
67 views

Why's 氵(“water”) 澀's semantic component?

I don't understand how 氵 (“water”) relates to any of 澀's 2021 meanings below. Definition 1 : How's water "rough"? Definition 2 : Potable water doesn't taste "astringent; acerbic; tart&...
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91 views

How does 驕's 2021 meanings appertain to its semantic component 馬?

I know little about horses. Did the Chinese think horses were arrogant? Why? Above is Yellowbridge above. Below is Oxford Chinese Dictionary (2010) p 365.
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992 views

What are the original Chinese characters for the Filipino-Chinese family name Suico?

The book Life in Old Parian says the Cebuano family name Suico has Chinese origin, and I'm looking for the original Chinese characters. I'm trying to narrow it down based on the Hokkien pronunciation ...
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1answer
123 views

Etymology of 于 and transformation to in, on, at, go to

Two possibilities for the object of representation 于 are: Pictogram (象形). An ancient wind instrument; early form of 竽 (OC *ɢʷa). This view is supported by mainstream palaeography. Exhaled air; early ...
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1answer
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How does 雜's 2021 meanings appertain to its semantic component 衣?

I screenshot Yellowbridge. If I had to guess, is the etymology related to the fact that clothing can be mixed or piled up?
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1answer
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How do 尤's 2021 meanings appertain to 尢?

I can't read Chinese, and don't understand CUHK. How does 尢 († lame; crippled) relate to 尤 (especially, particularly)? Yellowbridge.
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209 views

Mnemonic or technique to remember 咅 ,部, 陪

I want to remember 咅 pǒu and all the dependent words on 咅. Could you please let me know what is the correct way/ think process? What technique are you using to remember the meaning forever? This is my ...
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1answer
74 views

etymology of 友, 犮

I am confused at these two characters some times. Could you please let me know etymology of these 2 characters? and advise any further analysis. Thanks 友 yǒu friend 犮 bá to pull up
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1answer
72 views

How do 陷, 阱 appertain to their semantic component 𨸏 (阝 as left radical)?

I can't find 阜 in the Oxford Chinese Dictionary. Wiktionary 1.† mound 2.† abundant How do 陷 and 阱 (trap) relate to "mound" or "abundant"? Yellowbridge for 陷. Yellowbridge for 阱.
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What's the difference between a han character and a chinese character?

I was looking for the definitions of 夬 which appears in several languages (4 languages at least apparently) and there is an entry with definitions for it as "Han character" (where one of its ...
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515 views

Why west and wine vessel/10 th terrestrial branch are similar?

西 xī west 酉 yǒu a wine vessel, 10 th terrestrial branch Which word is first invented? Why these 2 are similar with a small line as an addition? Thanks
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214 views

what exact image is the basis for the 圭?

The Hanzi meaning for 圭 guī = (old) jade tablet (a ceremonial badge of rank) I checked the images, not sure based on what jade tablet 圭 is drawn, can any one point to the correct image? Thanks
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Criteria of making an acceptable word/character in Chinese

In the English language, the dictionaries are updated yearly to include new words and modifications of current spellings that have been accepted due to common usage. For example, the internet age saw ...
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3answers
115 views

Four-character idioms that contain an allusive pair

I am interested in finding some examples of four-character idioms that contain exactly a pair of allusions, different in source but similar in nature, that were often compiled by a specific literary ...
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Is the character 年 (or its etymology) related to the mythical beast in Chinese mythology?

Premise: According to the mythology related to the Chinese New Year, a creature called 年 (also referred to as 年兽 — pinyin: nián shòu — 年獸 in Traditional chinese) was a mythical beast that "lived under ...
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2answers
171 views

Etymology of 策, 朿

What is the etymology of 策 and 朿 ? As per dictionary the meanings are as below: 朿 cì stab 策 cè policy, plan, scheme, bamboo slip for writing(old), to whip (a horse), to encourage, upward horizontal ...
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Why is the Proto-Sino-Tibetan word for “eight” reconstructed as “triat”, when in nearly all Sino-Tibetan languages it begins with either 'p' or 'b'?

Here the Proto-Sino-Tibetan for eight is reconstructed as *t-r'iat, but no explanation is given as to why.
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Etymology of 此 cǐ this, these?

What is the etymology of cǐ ? How this character means those, these?
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What does 「產」 in 「資產」 actually mean?

This question stems from some thoughts I've been having while reading Robert Kiyosaki's "Rich Dad Poor Dad". In the book, Kiyosaki defines "asset" as something that puts money in ...
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1answer
529 views

How did 中風 become “suffering a stroke”?

I have learned the Chinese names of some common ailments and they are surprisingly very descriptive and intuitive once you know the meanings of the individual characters. For example: 糖尿病,高血壓,心律失常. ...
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1answer
72 views

how “from” and “since” meanings originated for 自

I am going through the word: 自幼 zìyòu since childhood 自 zì self, oneself, from, since, naturally, surely; private, personal Understand 自 originally a nose symbol. how the meanings “from” and “since” ...
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2answers
185 views

What is the etymology of 斥

Learning the word 斥 chì to blame,to reprimand, to expel, (of territory) to expand. What is the etymology and how it is to blame?
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1answer
144 views

History of the pronunciation of 辰

Today, it is pronounced chén in Mandarin. However, in Chữ Nôm, this character is used for the sound thì. This is surprising, since most Chữ Nôm characters either borrow the meaning of existing ...
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380 views

Why 怕 is afraid or fear?

Learning this word 怕 which is heart and bright. It means bright and blemishless heart like Brave Heart. Why this is fear heart?

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