Questions tagged [glyph-origin]

Questions about the graphical origin and evolution of characters. Use [etymology] for the origin and history of Chinese words.

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3
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2answers
704 views

Why are the words 戒 and 戎 written similarly?

Why are these words written similarly? Do they descend from a common Chinese character? If so, how do you explain the difference in pronunciations among derived words, especially for 戎? 投笔从戎 róng 盗贼 ...
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1answer
193 views

Glyph origins of the character 岁/歲?

I teach a basic class in Mandarin to kids. They enjoy seeing where characters came from. I will be teaching them how to express their ages soon and hence the character 岁. Is there an interesting ...
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2answers
589 views

What is the history of the character “耻”?

The meaning of the word is “shame”. I often encounter the version which is written with a 止, but sometimes I confuse it with 恥. It seems that the meanings of 耻 and 恥 are both the same, just that one ...
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1answer
99 views

Is the character 跌 (to trip) a deliberate combination of 足 (foot) and 失 (to lose)?

The character 跌 (diē) = "to trip", etc. is composed of two parts on the left there is 足 (zú) = "foot", and on the right there is 失 (shī) = "to lose", etc. And indeed 失足 means "to lose one's ...
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Glyph origins of 倒 (fall, collapse)

Can anyone tell me the glyph origins for 倒 ? I searched for it in one of the books but I couldn't find anything.
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4answers
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沒 simplified to 没: What is the origin of the change?

I've just discovered that the simplified form of the character 没 is different from the traditional form (沒). With them both being nearly identical with exception of a single stroke, why was there a ...
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1answer
87 views

Are there web-site with description of visual meaning of symbols?

I'm interested in explanation of why certain symbol means what it means, in other words what object or scene it depicts. There is some books about that, like "Origin and evolution of...", but I wonder ...
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1answer
108 views

Was the character 蹦 (in 蹦极 “bungee jumping”) designed to look like people bungee jumping?

I find myself fascinated by the character 蹦 in the word 蹦极 (meaning "bungee jumping"). It combines: the radical 足 (meaning "foot"), in the character 跳 meaning "jump"; the radical 山 meaning "...
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3answers
211 views

Why is there an 'ear' component in the character for smell? 闻 聞

Why is there an 'ear' radical in the character for smell? 闻 聞 I find this pretty confusing. Perhaps there is a fun story behind it?
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150 views

What is the glyph origin of 克?

I've looked around and one place says it's from the skin of an animal, another one says it's an axe striking a beast and another one says it's a battle helmet with an animal skin. So what's the story ...
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1answer
201 views

Etymology of glyph 袭 = dragon + clothes?

I am new here, recently discovered this site to learn more about glyph origins of certain characters. I often see this character 袭 when related to terrorist attacks in the news. 袭 means raid or ...
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1answer
299 views

Meaning of the elements of 爵 (baron)

The 4 elements of this character are well known (claw/plectrum; net; north-east; short measurement), but I cannot see any connection between them that might result in the concept of 'baron'. Can ...
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1answer
133 views

Handwritten shape of 「舟」 when it appears like 「月」 and the component form of 「肉」

The shape of 「肉」 in its component form is differentiated from 「月」 in Taiwan and sometimes in Hong Kong's table of standard character forms, but appear the same in other regions' standards and in ...
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199 views

兹 as a phonetic component

Wiktionary explains the two glyph origins of 「兹」 as the following: Unorthodox variant simplified from 茲 with 䒑 as the top component instead of 艹 found in the Ming dynasty orthographic dictionary ...
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1answer
252 views

Glyph origins of '進'

Motivation While writing my recent meta question, I've cited Dr. Gavin Chiu (趙善軒)'s article to explain the character '進' and its simplified character '井'. However, a user points out that the linked ...
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1answer
275 views

How does 巨 resemble a hand (彐) holding a carpenter's square (工)?

Left screenshot is from Yellowbridge; right from Richard Sears (Uncle Hanzi). I circled in green the lone pictogram that most obviously pictures a hand holding a carpenter's square. For ...
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1answer
147 views

Etymologies and relationship between the characters 錘, 槌, 鎚, and 椎

Wiktionary lists 錘, 槌, 鎚, and 椎 to all have the meaning of "hammer", but I'm not sure if that was the original meaning for any of those characters, and they all (or at least some) appear to have ...
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1answer
465 views

What 蛋 is referring to in “完蛋了”

完蛋了 means: Done for; ruined; finished; goose is cooked. It is the Mandarin counterpart of a Cantonese term "玩完" (game over) I am curious about what 蛋 is referring to. Without any reference, I can ...
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2answers
202 views

Glyph origins of the character 拜

I've seen somewhere that it was two hands together greeting someone. It makes some sense since the left part does look like 手, but the right part doesn't, and I don't remember any other characters ...
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1answer
564 views

乘 vs 承 - are they related?

Just learnt a few verbs which use 乘 and 承 and was thinking that, not only do they look and sound mighty similar, but their ultimate meanings are both related to 'transfering' something. 乘 with ...
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1answer
231 views

Any ideas on the origin of the 绍 character?

Any ideas on the origin of the 绍 character? Studying for finals and I need a coherent way to associate the silk, knife, and mouth radicals. In the phrase 介绍.
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242 views

How does 土口 match 'a person wearing a pendant'?

Please see the green arrow beneath. I can't copy and paste from Yellowbridge for 袁:
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199 views

What is the relation between 寨 (zhài, “stockade, stronghold, fort”) and 塞 (sài, “place of strategic importance; pass; fortress”)?

Most dictionaries say 寨 = 塞 + 木, but on its face, we could just as easily have 塞 = 寨 + 土.
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1answer
233 views

Why is “quotient” translated as 「商」 in mathematics?

Wikipedia defines "quotient" as: In arithmetic, a quotient (from Latin: quotiens "how many times", pronounced /ˈkwoʊʃənt/) is the quantity produced by the division of two numbers.[1] Does the ...
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2answers
260 views

What's this character that looks like 七 with a ~ in the middle? And what's its history?

Having a hard time figuring out what this guy is: The equivalent Wikisource page for the material I'm working with says that it is: 甚 Perhaps it is Which zisea says it is: 同【甚】字。 If it is 七 +...
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1answer
93 views

Determining what the meaning of part of a character '益' is

I can see that it have an equal number of strokes above and below the yi stroke not part of the blood radical. I am not sure of what this character is..I mean..I know 高兴, that is the closest that I ...
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2answers
255 views

What is the difference between 嫐 and 嬲?

According to mdbg.net, both characters have a meaning of "to tease": 嬲 to tease / to disturb 嫐 to tease / to play around with Are both of them primarily used as synonyms for "tease"? Or are they ...
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1answer
169 views

The glyph origins of 半

Pursuant to the question below about 伴: What intrigues me is what 8 八 and a cow 牛(or 2 cows) have to do with this? chineseetymology.org says for 半: 'Augmented pictograph 半. Augmentation 八 (...
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1answer
125 views

Why is 伴 used for buddy?

Is it true that 伴 comes from the word, 半(half) and thus can be interpreted as (significant other person)?
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163 views

How does 馬 resemble a horse?

Please see my 3 questions inscribed in the screenshot from Wiktionary:
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2answers
546 views

Why does 写 not have a dot on top?

Many hanzi have a roof on top, including a dot. From the HSK2 list, we have: 客 家 字 完 室 安 它 The commonly used hanzi 写 is unlike these because it does not have a dot on top. Chinese-tools.com ...
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3answers
180 views

Glyph origins and meaning of 敢

What is the meaning and etymology of the LEFT component of this character: 敢 ? I have already checked Wiltionary and Chinese Text Project. Thank you for the help.
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156 views

How did 革 get the meaning “change” 變革?

I wondered how a character originally representing animal skin could appear in words such as 沿革、革命、變革. Ripping off the skin from an animal, thereby "removing the old and getting the new" seems a ...
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2answers
404 views

Character difference between 'buy' and 'sell'

The characters for 'buy' and 'sell', seem to have a subtle difference in the character. 買/买 (buy) 賣/卖 (sell) I want to know, what's the significance of the radial on top of the sell? How does ...
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2answers
92 views

Radical choice for 安全

A simple question, why does the lower half of 安全 (safe), have the female character: 女 ? Is it implying that safety pertains only to females being secure? Or is there no such implication? I'd like to ...
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3answers
240 views

Radicals vs glyph origins (specifically for character 肚 in 肚 子)

I am trying to learn some vocabulary and am looking at the radicals to help me remember. The problem is, the radicals in some characters don't seem to make sense to me at all. In 肚, the two radicals ...
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1answer
123 views

Difference between 傍晚 and 晚上 and their etymology

As in the title. Are there any cases when these two are interchangeable? If yes, when? What are the nuances that distinguish them? It would be great if one can tackle the etymology of the two.
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345 views

What's the etymology and significance of yuenyeung (鴛鴦)?

鴛鴦 is a mix of tea and coffee commonly had in Hong Kong (amongst other south-asian countries). I was wondering about how this drink came into being? Where does the title come from (especially the ...
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2answers
121 views

Was 我 pronounced 'è' at some time in the past? [duplicate]

If I look up 饿 in http://zhongwen.com/ I find 饿 = 食 + 我。 Further it says, '我 is phonetic'. Does this mean that at some time in the past, 我 was pronounced 'è'? Taken literally, 饿 should then be ...
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2answers
282 views

What's the glyph origin of 妖?

What's the glyph origin of 妖? Why does it have a woman radical? Why is woman used in a word that means weird or supernatural? Is there a website to look up the evolution of characters?
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1answer
144 views

Which is the correct glyph origin of 入

I find 2 very different glyph origins for 入 It shows the roots of a plant entering the ground. It is a picture of an open tent or tent door. Which is correct?
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3answers
160 views

Does 来 show fruit on a tree or ripening corn?

I find two different explanations for 来, 1. it is a picture of fruit on a tree. 2. It represents ripening corn. Either way It is a neat symbol for what is coming. Which do you think is correct?
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1answer
316 views

Why do cat (猫) and dog (狗) share the same 犭 radical?

I have noticed that a cat and dog share the same radical, which is 犭dog (quǎn). So, if we break the words down: 猫 cat (māo) = 犭dog (quǎn) + 艹 cǎo (grass) + 田 tián (field) 狗 dog (gǒu) = 犭dog (quǎn) +...
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4answers
550 views

认识 vs 知道 based on glyph origins

I'm trying to understand what 识 means and why 认识 is different from 知道. As far as I was able to gather the information on 戠 is a depiction of an armed group of people which, while in battle, should be ...
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3answers
888 views

Examples of “bad” simplified characters/简体字?

In particular, there should be many examples of 形声字 ("phono-semantic compound characters") which were "damaged" by simplification. I am interested especially in characters where a 声旁 ("phonetic") or ...
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3answers
443 views

In ancient China, was there an equivalent of pinyin?

The question is the title. Considering pinyin is in romanised form, did the ancient Chinese have pinyin to help them learn characters, or did they just have to repeat them hundreds of times to help ...
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7answers
5k views

Where to look for history and etymology of Chinese characters? For example 工

Is there a website where I can look for history and etymology of Chinese characters? For example 工. It can be a Chinese website (I am VERY new to Chinese). But better in English. Please also drop ...
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2answers
232 views

What is the origin of the character “糬” seeminly only used in “麻糬” to translate a Japanese word which doesn't use either character?

I was just given some mochi by a Taiwanese host in Kaohsiung. So I decided to look up the local word and found "麻糬" máshǔ. It's a transliteration of Japanese "mochi", which is written 餅 in that ...
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2answers
358 views

What is the purpose of the 賣 (卖) component in the character 讀 (读)?

Most sources I can find say that 讀 (读) is a phonosemantic compound (形聲), where 言 is the semantic component and 賣 is the phonetic component. However, the pronunciation of 賣 (mài) does not resemble 讀 (...
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3answers
454 views

Should 屋 and 居 use radical 户 instead of 尸?

户 means home. So these examples are not suprising: 房 fáng (house), 扁 biǎn (flat), 扇 shàn (fan [mostly used indoor]), 扉 fēi (door) 尸 means corpse, and it looks like it refers to tail or something ...