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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35
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11answers
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Etymology of the Chinese number characters (一二三四五六七八九十百千)

Main Question: What is the glyph origin of the Chinese number characters (一二三四五六七八九十百千)? Related question: Why isn't 四 four lines? (the origin of 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九) I decide to write a Q&A-style ...
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5answers
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Why isn't 四 four lines? (the origin of 一 二 三 四 五 六 七 八 九)

A common experience of beginner hanzi students is their raised hopes and expectations when they learn 一 二 三 - "what a wonderfully elegant language!" - which are promptly crushed when they ...
16
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8answers
3k views

家: why is a home a place for pigs?

The character 家 is a bit of a joke: it describes a dwelling (宀) for pigs (豕). Why is this strange construction used? Were pigs somehow important for homes in the past? 说文解字 describes 家 as 从宀,豭省聲 - ...
16
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2answers
1k views

Are 乒 and 乓 used in classical chinese?

乒乓 is the modern word for ping pong, based around onomatopoeia (and similarity to 兵 for phonetic element) and, as some people claim, shape. I was wondering if this shape explanation is true, or little ...
15
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7answers
1k views

What is the glyph origin of '奇'?

Lost Glyph Origin 奇 ( jī | qí ) is a character that means strange but the glyph origin appears to have been lost. At least as far as I can tell after researching offline books, zhongwen.com, and ...
14
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3answers
1k views

Why is 月 used when speaking about anatomy?

One thing I've been curious about while learning Chinese is the use of 月 in many 汉字 representing anatomical features (for example, 脸, 腰, or 腿). What is the etymology of the use of 月 as a radical?
13
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4answers
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Dog radical (犭) for non-Han ethnic groups

As far as I understand, the dog radical (犭) was used for all non-Han ethnic groups before the Chinese Communist Party took power on the mainland. Is there truth to that? If so: Why did the CCP stop ...
13
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6answers
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快: why does “fast” also mean “happy”?

The character 快 is usually used for the meaning of "fast", but it is also used in the sense of "pleasant" or "happy" - for example, in the words 痛快, 爽快. It seems that both meanings are quite ancient. ...
12
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2answers
502 views

What is the etymology of “商” in “商数”

"商数" is usually translated as "quotient" in both its mathematical and common usage forms (eg in "智商"/intelligence quotient, which is in fact an actual quotient.). What is the etymology of "商", and ...
11
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2answers
1k views

Is there any connection between the choice of characters for 九 and 丸?

I just learned the character 丸 and naturally noticed that it is similar to 九 with the additional 点. Is there any interesting connection between these two characters or is it just a random coincidence ...
11
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1answer
592 views

Why does 息 mean news?

Why does 息 mean news? The chraracter's etymology suggest it means "rest" - "From nose indicating breath and also phonetic 自 and heart or chest 心. Meaning to rest." Source: http://chineseetymology....
11
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5answers
880 views

Why was the rice component added to 气 to form 氣?

气 is an ancient character that has roots in an oracle bone pictogram, but according to this, the rice radical was added in the Tang dynasty to form 氣. What were the reasons for this? What does 气, ...
10
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3answers
532 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 ...
10
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1answer
918 views

How is the Kanji character 豚 related to the chinese 猪 / 豬

The Chinese character for pig is 猪 / 豬 (zhu1) In many Japanese restaurants around Hong Kong I've seen this somewhat different character 豚 which appears to also mean pig. How would you say it in ...
10
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1answer
450 views

Did a king ask for a ball? How did 王 + 求 become 球?

The character 球 means ball and is composed of 王 meaning king and 求 meaning demand. Where does this composition come from? Did a king ask for a ball?
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2answers
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Glyph origin of 我 - How did 我's radicals 手 and 戈 create the meaning of 我?

Tell me, please, how do 我's radicals 手 and 戈 create the meaning of 我 (ie: I)? I know that 戈's pictogram (象形) means a rake-like tool or weapon, borrowed for sound to mean "me" (note 'Oracle bone ...
10
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4answers
438 views

What's the relationship between 炮 and 砲?

炮 and 砲 both mean "cannon", but it seems the former is much more common, and the latter only really seen in Xiangqi. Is there a difference in meaning? For example, on wikipedia it is said that 砲 ...
9
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5answers
2k views

A Complex Chinese Character

I randomly saw this character on the blog a while ago and saved a image of it as shown below. Is this even a character? If so, what does it mean? When is it used? What was the origin of it? How do ...
9
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6answers
877 views

A unified theory of 就 meaning

就 always bothered me. I couldn't (and maybe still can't) get a hold of its meaning. By looking at many examples of the usage I came to realization that 就 marks a process of becoming a subject to or ...
8
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1answer
2k views

Is there any relation between the Cyrillic Ш (sha) and the Chinese 山 (shān)?

Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but the Cyrillic Ш/ш (sha) looks like the Chinese 山 (shān) and have similarity in pronunciation. Is there any actual relation between the two?
8
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4answers
887 views

Glyph origin of 也

I've already done some research on the character 也, but I haven't find something that pleased me. I've seen explanations going from "horn" and "snake" to "vulva" and "around". Where did it come from? ...
8
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2answers
344 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?
8
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4answers
692 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 ...
8
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5answers
859 views

Why is the radical of 难 > 隹 and not 又?

难 nan2, difficult; hard. Kangxi radical 172 隹. My teacher says the radical for this character is 又 but the dictionary says clearly it's 隹.
8
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1answer
594 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 ...
8
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4answers
806 views

What was this online dictionary's name with ancient traditional and simplified characters and glyph origins? [duplicate]

I once found a Mandarin Chinese dictionary which for each character listed the ancient, the traditional and the simplified Chinese characters. For each it described its meaning and how it developed ...
8
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3answers
1k 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 ...
7
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5answers
9k 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 ...
7
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1answer
621 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 ...
7
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1answer
265 views

Why does 節 mean both “festival” and “to save, to control”?

why does a "bamboo joint" (as etymology suggests) mean: "control / to restrict / to curtail / to economize" and at the same time "festival / holiday"? I'll post ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there any sun 日 in 昌?

I've been seeing conflicting explanations for this character 昌. Some sources say it comprised of two suns 日, some sources say it comprises of sun and speak 日 meaning flourish, though I don't really ...
6
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2answers
1k views

Is there a reason why 午 and 年 look so similar?

These words don't have meanings that are similar, but why do they look nearly identical? Is it just a coincidence?
6
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2answers
311 views

Mnemonic or Glyph Origin for 御

I can't fiugure out suitable mnemonic for 御. Does someone has a good idea?
6
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2answers
2k views

Pattern in the Chinese numbers 1 to 9

I know a lot of Chinese characters are either a symbol of something or a combination of symbols in the space of one character, so what's the origin of the symbol for numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9? since ...
6
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4answers
312 views

或: how did “region” become “either”?

The character 或 is used today for the meanings "or", "either", "maybe", and "perhaps". Historically, it had the meaning of "region", and it is this meaning that characters like 國 and 域 derive from. ...
6
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3answers
470 views

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 ...
5
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1answer
420 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 ...
5
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2answers
377 views

How does 矢 look like an arrow?

I find it hard to imagine how the character 矢 looks like an arrow (perhaps a "big" man with a spear on top of his head, I dunno). Can someone please explain this in terms of oracle bone ...
5
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2answers
1k views

Is the Chinese character “蒙” being associated with Mongolia and ignorance coincidence?

In the translingual section, Wiktionary mentions that the Chinese character 蒙 has a variety of meanings: to cover ignorant suffer fourth hexagram of the I Ching Mongolia - radical composition becomes ...
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4answers
2k views

Why do some Chinese characters for animals not use the radical 犭?

why some Chinese words don't use the rule of prefix?
5
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2answers
902 views

Why do some Chinese characters have multiple simplified variants?

According to Unihan database some Chinese characters have multiple simplified variants. For example the Chinese character 鍾 have 2 simplified variants: 钟 and 锺 How it could happen? What is the ...
5
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3answers
566 views

What is the origin of the character 对/對?

I've been studying the etymology of characters lately, and I'm stuck trying to figure out how 对/對 is formed. It is apparently a compound of 丵 (zhuó; grass, bush) and 寸 (cùn; inch, thumb), plus an ...
5
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2answers
442 views

Why is the traditional character for 你 also 你 and not 儞 when the traditional character for 尔 is 爾?

I found an interesting question posted on Reddit's /r/ChineseLanguage: If 你 is 亻(人) + 尔 , but 尔’s tradicional version is 爾 , shouldn’t 你’s traditional version be 儞 ?? I don't know the answer so I ...
5
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3answers
314 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?
5
votes
1answer
263 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
258 views

How does '一勿' Compound to mean sundial?

Etymology [of 腸] Ideogrammic compound (會意): 日 ‎(“sun”) + 一 + 勿   The rays of the sun. [ From chineseetymology.org: ] Primitive pictograph 昜. From sun日 (rays) on a sun dial (一勿). Meaning bright. My ...
5
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2answers
302 views

What function does the「𠂉」-shaped component have in characters like「𥏻」and「傷」?

戰國文字有從「人」和「昜」而成的「傷」字,但現代標準楷體的「傷」字與其結構有所不同;它含有一個「𠂉」形的部件。「傷」被釋爲從「人」,「𥏻」省聲的字(與說文解字的解釋一樣): 《說文》:「創也。从人,𥏻省聲。」 煕康字典卻有以下的條目: 《康熙字典》:【說文】同𥏫。 若「𥏻」與「𥏫」有異體關係,那「𠂉」在「𥏻」、「傷」、「殤」、「觴」等字當中有何職能?
5
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2answers
321 views

丼: why is “well” also “bowl of food”?

丼 is an ancient variant of 井, which means "well" (as in the water kind). What's curious is that the former seems to also mean "bowl of food", at least in some dictionaries: 汉典: ...
5
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2answers
175 views

Relation between「帳」and「賬」

「賬」is said to be a derivative character (分化字) of「帳」, itself being a derivative character of「張」. The meaning of「帳」is related to tents, screens, or curtains: 《玉篇》帷也,張也,幬也。 「賬」has meanings relating to ...
4
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3answers
2k views

Does the beta like character (as in 陳, 附 and many more) in Chinese have a special meaning?

It probably doesn't. I tried searching but couldn't find one. But would be great if it does! Would help me remember so many new words. I hope somebody has figured out a pedagogical role of that ...