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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3answers
559 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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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 ...
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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
321 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
402 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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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 ...
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4answers
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Why do some Chinese characters for animals not use the radical 犭?

why some Chinese words don't use the rule of prefix?
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6answers
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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 ...
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2answers
108 views

Is there any compilation/resources/dictionaries on the transformations of how simplified characters came to be?

I had the same question as the OP of What is the story or reason of how 龙 came from 龍? and I like visuals given by Stan. The hardest part for me in Chinese is remembering the strokes of these ...
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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 ...
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127 views

Connotations of different “to give”

Can natives and other knowledgeable people share their ideas on how to differentiate between many "to give" verbs? The list is not complete. Anyone is welcome to add their "gives" in it. 施 - Glyph ...
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266 views

Can anyone suggest glyph origin of 施?

Does anyone has a good model of the origin of 施? As far as I know the common ground in deciphering this character is: On the left - flag pole. On top - flag cloth. On the right-bottom - snake or, in ...
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2answers
129 views

Glyph origin or any mnemonic for 況 and 状?

Does any one have good glyph origin theory about those HanZi? My take: 状 - fence + dog inside ~ then this mutated to a "situation or disposition" meaning. 状 - remnant of 壮 + dog = huge dog. how ...
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1answer
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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?
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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 ...
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1answer
180 views

What are the etymologies of 局 and 局面?

As far as I know 局 applies to everything which demands crooking ones body. A job behind a desk almost always means you are sitting with your back bent: A small office is 局, a chess game is 局, a game ...
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2answers
205 views

Enigma of 討厭. Why does it mean “to hate”?

As far as I know 寸 is a depiction of a finger pointing at a wrist where one’s pulse was taken. The distance between a hand and that point is small, so this portion signified a little… So IMHO ...
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1answer
145 views

Why 批 means “criticize” and “a batch” at the same time?

Is there a story to this mutation of meaning? Or is this shift of semantics connected to phonetic considerations only?
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1answer
271 views

乒 and 乓 characters are together a pictographic group? [duplicate]

倪阔乐 pointed in his answer, 乒 and 乓 have onomatopoeic use and these characters were "chosen for the sound playing the game makes" and it's a Great explanation but.... When I see 乒乓 together I see the ...
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1answer
174 views

Does 告 posess negative connotation?

There was a discussion about different "talk" words in chinese. Here is the link: Roots of the difference between 谈,论,说,讲,议, 叙,言,报,告,述 And there was an explanation of 告. 告 (gao4) consists of ...
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Roots of the difference between 谈,论,说,讲,议, 叙,言,报,告,述

All those talk, discuss, chat and ect. In any language there are a lot of words expressing different connotation of people speaking. In my own language (russian) there are lot's of them BUT I can ...
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3answers
380 views

Does 声 exist as a traditional character?

I see that 声 has an entry in the Kangxi dictionary, but every site seems to define 声 as a simplification of 聲. Does 声 also exist as a traditional character? If not, then what's the glyph origin behind ...
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2answers
947 views

Why is the character 漢 built in such a weird way?

漢 is the character meaning "China" or "Sino-". It supposedly ultimately derives from the name of the river Han. I understand why the water radical is present there, but I have no idea why the ...
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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 ...
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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....
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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? ...
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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 ...
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430 views

What is the etymology and glyph origin of 餵?

I was surprised to find out about the character 餵 (wei4, 喂) because it doesn't seem to have a meaning other than an expression to answer the telephone. Since the telephone was only invented in the ...
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4answers
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What is the origin of the word 猫 (cat)?

I keep on thinking that the way it is pronounced (māo) seemed to mimic the noises a cat makes (meow!). The character seems identical to the one for the same word in Japanese. Was this the original ...
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1answer
172 views

Why is 遞 = (辶 + (厂 + 虎))?

遞 is most commonly used, nowadays, to mean "to pass" -or- "to give". Here's the definition of its simplified counterpart 递 given on zisea: ①传送,传达:传~。投~。~送。~交。~眼色(以目示意)。呈~国书。 ②顺着次序:...
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222 views

Does 宝 have its own history separate from 寶?

I was trying to figure out the characters for Sapporo, the Japanese beer, the other day and found: 七宝 was one of the translations for it. My initial reaction was to search 「七寶」 in my Japanese ...
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2answers
252 views

What is the origin and meaning of 焗烤

焗 was an uncommon character in Taiwan 20-30 years ago, limited mostly to Cantonese restaurants, and it was an unusual type of cooking. The MOE 國語辭典 gives this description of 焗: 用鹽或淨沙下鍋炒熱,再將食物用紗布等包好,...
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4answers
925 views

What is the etymology of “嗨”?

What is the etymology of "嗨"? Is it used because it sounds like the English word "Hi"? I tried looking it up, but Wiktionary doesn't have any etymology information in either the English or Chinese ...
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1answer
161 views

Etymological character reference [duplicate]

Is there an authoritative etymological reference for characters? It looks like all books I'm reading about Chinese characters have their own explanation. To me, all of them seem reliable, but I ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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218 views

What is the original meaning of 匈 (besides “chest/breast/thorax”)?

The Wikipedia article on the 匈奴 gives a literal translation as 'fierce slaves'. Did 匈 mean 'fierce' in former times? What is the etymology of this character?
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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 ...
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311 views

Mnemonic or Glyph Origin for 御

I can't fiugure out suitable mnemonic for 御. Does someone has a good idea?
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Logic behind the strokes of complex characters

I am learning Chinese now, and we've been introduced to Chinese characters as 'pictograms'. I understand the logic behind some characters, like 口 mouth to and 人 person. But, what about complex ...
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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: ...
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1answer
81 views

Does anyone known a source where find from which characters the modern one borrowed their loaned meanings?

Like I said in the title I would really like to know if anyone knows where to find the original characters that gave to the modern one their loaned meanings.
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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. ...
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1answer
196 views

殊: Why 歺(歹)+朱? How did it get to mean special (in a good way)?

How did 殊, as in: 特殊、殊技、殊荣、殊勋、殊遇、殊遇 come to have it's meaning of special? 歺(歹)+朱 paint out a rather, more, grim meaning if anything... 說文解字: 死也。从歺朱聲。漢令曰:“蠻夷長有罪,當殊之。”市朱切 How did 殊 get to mean ...
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1answer
142 views

Glyph origins: are explanations in such dictionaries authoritative or just later vague interpretations?

I know this topic has been discussed in quite a few questions post on this site. My question concerns the 'authoritativeness' of such glyph origins based on the decomposition of characters. Here's ...
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116 views

What is the oldest retracable meaning for the character/word 臾?

臾 (yu2) in classical Chinese means "for a while". I assume "for a while" was not the original meaning this character was associated with in the time when it came, by what mysterious brain activity ...
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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 - ...
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4answers
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When radicals make words does Chinese convey two layers of meaning all the time?

I can recognize and translate the 215 radicals. Now, I'm told radicals combine with each other and other characters to make words, and that some radicals denote sound for pronunciation of the word. ...