The Kanji 参杉診珍惨乙乱札孔乳- Shapes (1)


For the last category of kanji origin in our exploration, we are going to look at components that originated from a shape. In this post, we are going to see 彡 which signified “pretty shape; needle shapeslining up neatly” in the kanji 参杉診珍惨. The second shape is 乚, which signified “an act of flattening or straightening”– the kanji 乙乱札孔乳.

  1. The kanji 参 “to mingle; come; come/go in humble style”

History of Kanji 参For the kanji 参 in bronze ware style, in green, (a) was “a kneeling woman with three shining hair-accessories while (b) had three lines which signified “bright reflections of light mingled each other” added. The mingling shines gave the meaning “to mingle; come.” The top of (c) in seal style, in red, had “three bright things” (日), and 彡 used phonetically for /san/. (d) in the kyuji 參, in blue,the three 日 became three ム shapes, which was further reduced to one ム in shinji. In Japan it is used for a humble style verb in 参 “to come; go,” and for a visit to a shrine, temple or cemetery. The kanji 参 means “to mingle; come; come/go in humble style.” [The composition of the kanji 参: ム, 一, 𠆢 and 彡]

The kun-yomi /ma’iru/ means “to come (in a humble style); pay a visit”and is in 墓参り(“visit to a grave” /hakama’iri/). The on-yomi /san/ was in 参加する (“to participate in” /sanka-suru/), 参考書 (“reference book” /sankoosho/), 参詣 (“a visit to a temple; worship” /sankee/), 参列する (“to attend a ceremony” /sanretsu-suru/) and 持参する (“to bring something with oneself; bear; carry” /jisan-suru/). /-Zan/ is in 新参者 (“a newcomer; novice” /shinzanmono/) and 人参 (“carrot” /ninjin/).

  1. The kanji 杉 “cedar”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 杉. The kanji 杉 comprises 木 “tree; wood” and 彡used phonetically for /san/ to mean “needle-likethin shapes lining up neatly.” The needle leaves of a cedar tree neatly lined up and were beautiful. The kanji 杉 means “cedar.” [The composition of the kanji 杉: 木 and 彡]

The kun-yomi 杉 /sugi/ means “cedar” and is in 秋田杉 (“Akita cedar” /akita’sugi/) and 杉綾(“herringbone pattern” /sugiaya/). There is no on-yomi in Joyo kanji.

  1. The kanji 診 “medical diagnose; examine”

History of Kanji 診The seal style writing of the kanji 診 had 言 “word; language” on the left. The right side had “a person” with 彡 “rash” used phonetically for /shin/ to mean “to check thoroughly.” The kanji 診 means “medical diagnose; examine.” [The composition of the kanji:言, 𠆢 and 彡]

The kun-yomi 診る /mi’ru/ means “to examine medically.” The on-yomi /shin/ is in 診察(“medical examination” /shinsatsu/), 往診 (“visit to a patient; house call” /ooshin/), 診療所 (“clinic” /shinryoojo/) and 検診 (“health screening” /kenshin/).

  1. The kanji 珍 “rare; uncommon”

History of Kanji 珍The seal style writing of the kanji 珍 comprised 王 “jewel” and “a person encircling something beautiful (彡)” used phonetically for /chin/. Together they meant “beautiful things such as jewels not being common.” The kanji 珍measn “rare; uncommon.”  [The composition of the kanji : 王, 𠆢 and 彡]

The kun-yomi 珍しい /mezurashi’i/ means “rare; uncommon” and is in 物珍しい (“curious; novel” /monomezurashi’i/). The on-yomi /chin/ is in 珍品 (“rarity; curiosity” /chinpin/), 珍味 (“a delicacy” /chi’nmi/) and 珍事件 (“rare event; funny case” /chinji’ken/).

  1. The kanji 惨 “to feel miserable; cruel”

History of Kanji 惨For the kanji 惨 the seal style writing had “a heart,” which became a bushu risshinbenin (忄) in the kyuji 慘. On the right side the shine 參 was used phonetically for /san/ to mean “to be impressed in one’s heart deeply.” Together they meant “one experiencing a deeply-felt emotion such as misery and cruelty.” The kanji 惨 means “to feel miserable; cruel.” [The composition of the kanji : 忄and 参]

The kun-yomi 惨めな /mi’jime-na/ means “miserable.” The on-yomi /san/ is in 悲惨な (“cruel” /hisan-na/), 惨事 (“terrible disaster; tragedy” /sa’nji/), 陰惨な (“grisly; gloomy” /insan-na/) and 凄惨な (“ghastly; gruesome” /seisan-na/).

There are several more kanji that contain the shape 彡, including 影形彩修彰彫.

The second shape 乚 means “an act of flattening or straightening,” and appears in the kanji 乱札孔乳礼 on this post. (For the kanji 礼, we discussed a year ago in connection with a bushu shimesuhen).

  1. The kanji 乙 “second; not the first”

History of Kanji 乙For the kanji 乙 the writings in three anceint style were a bent shape on both ends. The shape was borrowed to mean “second; not the first” in combination of the kanji 甲 /ko’o/, which means “the first; good” and 丙 /he’e/ “third-rate: not good; poor.”  [The composition of the kanji: a single stroke of 乙]

The kun-yomi /oto/ is in 乙女 (“maiden” /oto’me//), a phonetical substitute. The on-yomi 乙  /otsu/ is in 甲乙を付ける (“to mark grades” /ko’ootsu-o tsuke’ru/) and 甲乙付け難い (“there is little difference between the two” /ko’ootsu tsukegata’i/).

  1. The kanji 乱 “to be out of order; rebellion; battle”

History of Kanji 乱For the kanji 乱 (a) and (b) in bronze ware style may be better explained by the left side of (c) in seal style. It was a hand at the top and another hand at the bottom was straightening tangles threads on a spool in the middle. The right side was a bent shape that signified “to straighten.” Together they meant “hands trying to untangle threads to make them into a good order.” The kyuji 亂, (d), was replaced by drastically simpler 舌 in the shinji 乱. The kanji 乱 means “to be out of order; rebellion; battle.”  [The composition of the kanji: 千, 口 and 乚]

The kun-yomi 乱れる /midare’ru/ means “to be out of order,” and is in 入り乱れる (“to be mixed and confused” /irimidare’u/) and 取り乱す (“to go to pieces; become upset” /torimida’su/). The on-yomi /ran/ is in 乱 (“battle” /ran/), 混乱 (“chaos; confusion” /ko’nran/), 乱雑な (“random” /ranzatsu-na/), 散乱する (“to be scattered about” /sanran-suru/), 内乱 (“civil war” /nairan/), 乱世 (“troubled time” /ra’nse/) and 一心不乱 (“absorbed; engrossed” /isshi’nhuran/).

  1. The kanji 札 “a tag; name place; paper money”

History of Kanji 札The seal style writing of the kanji 札 comprised 木 “wood” and 乚 “a bent shape that signified an act of flattening or straightening.” The writing meant “a thin flat piece of wood” such as a tag, a posted announcement and also paper money. The kanji 札means “a tag; name place; bank note.” [The composition of the kanji 札: 木 and 乚]

The kun-yomi 札 /huda/ means “tag; name place” and is in 荷札 (“luggage tag” /nihuda/) and 切り札 (“a trump card” /kiri’huda/), The on-yomi /satsu/ is in お札 (“bill; note” /osatsu/), 札束 (“wad of bills” /satsuta’ba/), 改札口 (“wicket” /kaisatsu’guchi/), 一万円札 (“ten thousand yen note” /ichimanen’satsu/) and 入札制 (“bidding system” /nyuusatsusee/).

  1. 孔 “a hole; cavity”

History of Kanji 孔For the kanji 孔 (a) and (b) had “a child” on the left side. What the right side attached to the child’s head signified is clear, but many scholars view that it signified some sort of a hole. The kanji 孔 means “a hole; cavity.” [The composition of the kanji 孔: 子 and 乚]

The kun-yomi 孔 /ana’/ means “opening; perforation; hole.” The on-yomi /koo/ is in 換気孔(“ventilation hole” /kankikoo/), 鼻孔 (”nostril” /bikoo/) and 孔子 (“Confucius” /kooshi/).

  1. 乳 “milk; milking; breast”

History of Kanji 乳For the kanji 乳 in oracle bone style a woman on her knees was nursing or holding a child in her arms. It meant “to nurse; breast; milk.” In seal style it had “a hand from above” and “a child” on the left. For the right side (乚) there are different interpretations, including “a hand to care for a baby,” “a swallow,” which was believed to bring a baby, like a stork in Western folk tales, and “supporting an infant.” The kanji 乳 means “milk; milking; breast.” [The composition of the kanji 乳: 孚 and 乚]

The kun-yomi /chi’chi/ 乳 means “milk; breast,” and is in 乳飲み子 (“infant” /chinomi’go/). The on-yomi /nyuu/ is in 牛乳 (“cow’s milk“ /gyuunyuu/), 母乳 (“mother’s milk” /bonyuu/), 乳歯 (“baby tooth” /nyu’ushi/ and 豆乳 (“soy bean milk” /toonyuu/).

I expect that we shall have three more posts before we wrap up our long exploration.  Thank you very much for your interest.  – Noriko [May 27, 2018]

The Kanji 費払仏沸者着諸緒著暑煮 -(6)


We have been exploring kanji that originated from a shape that something was tied up or a bundle of things. This is the sixth and last post in this group. The shapes we are going to look at on this post are: 弗 “to disperse” from a bunch of bent twigs that were bundled together by a rope but would not stay together – the kanji 費払仏沸; and 者 phonetically used for /sha/ from “a bundle of wooden sticks gathered in a stove being burned” –  the kanji 者着諸緒著暑煮.

History of Kanji 弗For the shape 弗 the history shown on the right in three different styles of ancient writing all had two bent lines and a rope around them. They signified that bent or crooked sticks were roped together in order to straighten, but the force of curling back was stronger and they would not stay straight and came apart. It meant “disperse” and it is used phonetically for /hutsu/ in kanji.

  1. The kanji 費 “to spend (money or time); cost; waste”

History of Kanji 費Forthe kanji 費 the bronze ware style writing, in green, comprised 弗 “to disperse” used phonetically for /hi/, 刂 “a knife” and 貝 “cowrie; money,” together signifying “to spend money.” In seal style, in red, the knife was dropped. It is also used for time, such as “spending time; wasting time.” Together they meant “cost; to spend money; require (time).” [Relating to this kanji, the top 弗 looks similar to the dollar sign $. So by itself it is customarily used to mean “dollar” in Japanese. [The composition of the kanji 費: 弗 and 貝]

The kun-yomi 費やす /tsuiya’su/ means “to spend (money; time),” as in 時間を費やす(“to spend time” /jikan-o tsuiya’su/). The on-yomi /hi/ is in費用 (“expenses” /hiyoo/), 私費 (“private expense” /shi’hi/), 浪費 (“waste” /roohi/). /-Pi/ is in 実費 (“actual expense; costs” /jippi/).

  1. The kanji払“to pay money; pay attention; brush off”

History of Kanji 払For the kanji 払t he seal style writing  had “a hand; an act that one does using a hand” and 弗 “to come apart” used phonetically for /hutsu/. Together “a hand pushing something away” meant “to brush off.” It also meant “to pay money or attention.” The right side of the kyuji 拂, in blue, was simplified with ム, a segment often used for simplification in other kanji as well. The kanji 払 means “to pay money; pay attention; brush off.”  [The composition of the kanji 払: 扌and ム]

The kun-yomi 払う /hara’u/ is used in お金を払う (“to pay money” /okane-o har’u/), 埃を払う (“brush off dust” /hokori-o hara’u/) and 注意を払う( “to pay attention” /chu’ui-o hara’u/), 支払い (“payment”/shiharai/) and 月払い (“monthly payment” /tsukiba’rai/). The on-yomi /hutsu/ is in 払拭する (“to wipe off” /husshoku-suru/)/.

  1. The kanji 仏 “Buddha; Buddhism; France”

History of Kanji 仏For the kanji 仏 the left side of the seal style writing was “a person; an act one does” and the right side (弗) was used phonetically for hutsu. When the Buddhism came to China from India, the Sanskrit word Buddha was written phonetically as 佛陀 Budda. The right side of the kyuji 佛 was replaced byム. Phonetically it is also used for 仏蘭西 “France” for having the first syllable /hu/. The kanji 仏 means “Buddha; Buddhism; France.” [The composition of the kanji 仏: イ and ム]

The kun-yomi 仏 /hotoke/ and 仏様 /hotoke-sa’ma/ mean “buddha.” The on-yomi /hutsu/ is 旧仏領 (old French colony” /kyu’u hutsuryoo/.) /-Butsu/ is in 大仏 (“big Buddha statue” /daibutsu/).

  1. The kanji 沸“to boil water; gush”

History of Kanji 沸The seal style writing of the kanji 沸 comprised “water” and 弗 used phonetically for hutsuto mean “to boil.” (/Hutsu/ was the onomatopoeia of water boiling.) Together they meant water gushing out in a spring. Boiling water looks similar to a spring. It was used to mean “to boil.” The kanji 沸 means “to boil water; bubble up.” [The composition of the kanji 沸: 氵and 弗]

The kun-yomi /waku/  and its transitive counterpart /wakasu/ means “to boil.” The on-yomi /hutsu/ is in 沸騰する (“to boil” /huttoo-suru/), 沸点 (“boiling point” /hutten/), 煮沸消毒 (“boiling sterilization” /shahutsu-sho’odoku/).

For the kanji 者 the history is shown in 5 the kanji 者 as used by itself. As a component it appears in the kanji 諸煮暑緒著着.

  1. The kanji 者“person”

History of Kanji 者For the kanji 者 in (a), (b) and (c) twigs in a container or stove were being burned with sparkles of fire. From early times it was borrowed to mean “this; person.” The kyuji 者 (d) kept a dot in the middle as the remnant of sparkles of fire, but it was deleted in shinji. The kanji 者means “person.”  (In modern use “this” as a demonstrative word is not used.” [The composition of the kanji 者: 耂 and 曰]

The kun-yomi 者 /mono’/ means “person,” and is in 悪者 (“bad guy; villain” /warumono/), 回し者 (“spy” /mawashimono/). The on-yomi /sha/ is in 医者 (“medical doctor” /isha/), 記者 (“reporter; journalist” /ki’sha/), 希望者 (“applicant” /kibo’osha/), 加入者 (“new member” /kanyu’usha/).

  1. The kanji 着”to attach; to put clothes on; wear; arrive (at a place)”

History of Kanji 着There is no ancient writing for the kanji 着. (a) was an inscription on a stone stele and (b) was the Correct style writing 著.  The kanji 着 was a variant of 著. In Japanese the two kanji have different use: 著 means “to author; stand out” whereas 着means “to attach; to put clothes on; wear; arrive (at a place).” [The composition of the kanji 着: 羊 without the vertical line going through, ノand 目]

The kun-yomi 着る /kiru/ means “to wear,” and is in 着物 (“kimono; traditional Japanese attire” /kimono/). Another kun-yomi着く /tsu’ku/ means “to arrive.” The on-yomi /chaku/ is in一着 (“one piece of clothes” /icchaku/), 着服 (“embezzlement” /chakuhuku-suru/), 到着時間 (“arrival time” /toochaku-ji’kan/), 着手する (“to start up” /cha’kushu-suru/) and 接着剤 (“glue; adhesive” /secchakuzai/).

  1. The kanji 諸“various; many; all”

History of Kanji 諸For the kanji 諸the bronze ware style writing was the same as 者. It was used phonetically for /sho/ to mean “many.” In 2 言 “word; language” was added. Together they meant “many words,” and also meant “many; various; all” in general. The kanji 諸 means “various; many; all.” [The composition of the kanji 諸: 言 and 者]

The kun-yomi /moro/ is in 諸々の (“various; many all” /moromoro-no/). The on-yomi /sho/ is in 諸事情 (“various reasons” /shoji’joo/), 諸君 (“Gentlemen!” /sho’kun/), 学生諸君 (“All our students” /gakusee-sho’kun/) and 読者諸氏 (“All readers” /dokushasho’shi/).

  1. The kanji 緒 “beginning; rope; string; together”

History of Kanji 緒For the kanji 緒 the seal style writing comprised 糸 “a skein of threads” and 者 used phonetically for /sho/ to mean “beginning,” as in 初. Together they signified “the beginning of a long continuous thing, such as a string or rope.” A rope put things together and signified “together.” The kyuji 緖, 2, lost the dot in the middle in shinji. The kanji 緒 means “beginning; rope; string.” [The composition of the kanji 緒: 糸 and 者]

The kun-yomi 緒 /o/ means “string,” as in 兜の緒 (“strings on kabuto armor” /kabuto-no-o’/) and 鼻緒 (“a strap on geta or zoori footwear” /hanao/). The on-yomi /sho/ is in 一緒 (“together” /issho/), 内緒 (“secrecy; privacy” /naisho/, 由緒 (“history; origin” /yu’isho/). Another on-yomi /cho/ is in 情緒 (“emotion; atmosphere” /jo’ocho/).

  1. The kanji 著“to write a book; conspicuous; to stand out”

History of Kanji 着For the kanji 著 the seal style writing comprised 竹“bamboo” and 者 used phonetically for /sho; cho/. Bamboo stalks were versatile, and among them was the material for making a writing brush. It meant “to write a book.” In kyuji 著, 2, however, the bamboo top was replaced by 艹, a bushu kusakanmuri “plants.” It was also used to mean “to make meaning clear; to standout; conspicuous.” The kanji 著 means “to write a book; conspicuous; to stand out.” [The composition of the kanji 著: 艹 and 者]

The kun-yomi 著す /arawa’su/ means “to write a book.” Another kun-yomi 著しい /ichijirushi’i/ means “to stand out.” The on-yomi /cho/ is in 著者 (“author” /cho’sha/), 名著 (“famous book” /me’echo/) and 顕著な (“remarkable” /ke’ncho-na/).

  1. The kanji 暑“(to feel) hot in atmospheric temperature”

History of Kanji 暑For the kanji 暑 in seal style “the sun” (日) was added to 者 “a bundle of wood sticks gathered in a stove to burn”used phonetically for /sho/. “The sun” and “burning fire” together made the kyuji 暑, 2, that meant “hot in atmospheric temperature.” The kanji 暑 means “(to feel) hot in atmospheric temperature.”  [The composition of the kanji 暑: 日and 者]

The kun-yomi /atsu‘i/ means “hot,” and is in 蒸し暑い (“hot and humid” /mushiatsu’i/). The on-yomi /sho/ is in 暑気当たり (“heatstroke” /shokia’tari/), 暑中見舞い (“summer greeting card” /shochuumi’mai/) and 残暑 (“lingering summer heat” /za’nsho/).

  1. The kanji 煮“to cook over a fire; simmer; boil”

History of Kanji 者The history of the kanji 煮 intertwined with another kanji 庶. In (a) and (b) it had “a kitchen stove with a pot,” and was /sha/ phonetically. It would become the kanji 庶. It meant “to cook over a fire.” On the other hand the seal style writing (c) comprised “a stove with burning sticks” containing 者 at the top and “a storage tripod pot” at the bottom. Another seal style (d) would become 遮. The kyuji 煮 (e) comprised 者, with a dot, and 灬, a bushu rekka/renga “fire.” The kanji 煮 means “to cook over a fire; simmer; boil.” [The composition of the kanji 煮: 者 and 灬]

The kun-yomi 煮 /niru/ means “to boil; simmer; seethe,” and is in 煮物 (“simmered food; cooked food” /nimono/), 生煮え (“undercooked; raw” /namanie/), 味噌煮(“simmered in misopaste” /misoni/). The on-yomi /sha/ is in 煮沸する (“to boil” /shahutsu-suru/).

We end our exploration on a group of tied objects here. I believe I have a few more posts to write before we end our exploration. Thank you very much for your reading.  -Noriko [May 19, 2018]

The Kanji 束速整頼瀬疎勅必密秘蜜泌-(5)


On this post we are going to explore two shapes that originated from a bundle of stuff. The first shape is 束, which was “a bundle of firewood tied around,” and the six Jojo kanji that contain are 束速整頼瀬疎勅. The second shape is 必, which was”something bound so tightly that it would not  allow any move” — the shape 必in the five kanji 必密秘蜜泌. Let us begin with 束.

  1. The kanji 束 “a bundle; to bind; a brief time”

History of Kanji 束For the kanji 束in (a) in oracle bone style, in brown, (b) and (c) in bronze ware style, in green, and (d) in seal style, in red, it was “a bundle of firewood tied around.” It meant “a bundle” or “things that were bound together.” In Japanese it also applies on time and means “a brief time.” The kanji 束 means “a bundle; to bind; a brief time.”  [The composition of the kanji 束: 一, 口、丨 and two strokes like 八]

The kun-yomi 束 /ta’ba/ means “bundle,” and is in 花束 (“bouquet of flowers” /hana’taba/) and 束ねる (“to bundle” /tabane’ru/). The on-yomi /soku/ is in 束縛する (“to restrain” /sokubaku-suru/), 結束する (“to band together; become united” /kessoku-suru/), and /-zoku/ is in 装束 (“costume; attire” /shoozoku/).

  1. The kanji 速 “fast; swift”

History of Kanji 速For the kanji 速 the bronze ware style writing had “stuff tied with a rope in the middle and at both ends” (after the last four posts we are now familiar with this shape as 東, aren’t we?) used phonetically for sokuto mean “quick; to rush.” The bottom had “a crossroad” and “a footprint,” which became 辵 in seal style, and further to 辶, a bushu shinnyoo “to go forward” in kanji. In seal style the tied stuff with strings around it was 束. Together they meant “fast.” The history of the kanji 速 having 東 and 束 suggests that it was likely that they were variations of things tied around. The kanji 速 means “fast; swift.” [The composition of the kanji 速: 束 and 辶]

The kun-yomi 速い /haya’i/ means “fast.” The on-yomi /soku/ is in 速度 (“speed” /so’kudo/), 秒速 (“speed per second” /byoosoku/), 迅速に (“swiftly” /jinsoku-ni/), 速達(“express mail” /sokutatsu/) and 快速電車 (“limited express train” /kaisoku-de’nsha/).

  1. The kanji 整 “to put in good order”

History of Kanji 整For the kanji 整 the left side of the bronze ware style writing had 束 “a bundle” and 正 “correct; just.” The right side had “a hand with a tool,” signifying “to cause something.” Together they signified “sorting things in bundles in good order.” In the seal style writing a hand holding a tool (攴) was shortened and became 敕 in the kanji. The kanji 整 means “to put in good order.”  [The composition of the kanji 整: 束, 攵 and 正]

The kun-yomi 整える /totonoe’ru/ means “to put in good order.” The on-yomi /see/ is in 整理する (“to put in good order” /se’eri-suru/), 調整 (“adjustment” /choosee/), 整然とした (“orderly” /seezentoshita/) and 交通整理 (“traffic control” /kootsuu-se’eri/).

  1. The kanji 頼 “dependable; to rely; request”

History of Kanji 頼For the kanji 頼 the seal style writing comprised 束“a bundle” and 刀“a knife” and 貝 “a cowry; money” used phonetically for /rai; ra/ to mean “profit.” Together “a part of a bundle of valuable things was carved out with a knife” gave the meaning “extra profit.” Having extra fortune make one that others might “rely on.” The kyuji 賴, in blue, reflected the seal style writing. In the shinji 頼 the simplification of the right side resulted in an unrelated component 頁. The kanji 頼 means “dependable; to rely; request.”   [The composition of the kanji 頼: 束and 頁]

The kun-yomi 頼む /tano’mu/ means “to request,” and /-dano/ is in 神頼み (/kamida’nomi/ “to turn to God for help”) and 頼りになる (“dependable” /ta’yori-ni-naru/). The on-yomi /rai/ is in 依頼する (“to request” /irai-suru/) and 信頼 (“trust” /shinrai/).

  1. The kanji 瀬 “rapids; one’s narrow ground”

History of Kanji 瀬For the kanji 瀬 the seal style writing comprised “water” and 賴 used phonetically for rai. It was considered to be the sound of rapids in a river. Together they meant “rapids.” Rapids were in the shallows where banks made the water flow narrow. It also meant “one’s predicament; one’s narrow ground.” As in the case of 頼, the simplification of the right side brought in 頁. The kanji 瀬 means “rapids; one’s narrow ground.” [The composition of the kanji 瀬: 氵,束and頁]

The kun-yomi /se/ is in 立つ瀬がない (“to be in a bind; in a tight corner” /ta’tsuse-ga-nai/), 瀬戸際 (“critical moment” /setogiwa/) and 瀬戸物 (“crockery; dishware” from pottery made in Seto /setomono/).

  1. The kanji 疎 “coarse; not close”

History of Kanji 疎For the kanji 疎 the seal style writing (䟽) comprised “a leg” and “a fine-toothed comb,” as in 梳 “to comb; to untangle by separating hair.” In 疏, 2 in kyuji, the left side 疋 “leg” was used phonetically for sho. Together they meant “to go through between gaps” and meant “coarse; not close.” Not being close also gave the meaning “distant; to alienate“In kanji the right side was replaced by 束 “a bundle.” The kanji 疎 means “coarse; not close; distant; to alienate.”[The composition of the kanji 疎: a variation of 正 and 束]

The kun-yomi 疎い /uto’i/ means “unacquainted with; distant.” The on-yomi /so/ is in 疎外感 (“feeling of being estranged” /sogai’kan/) and 意思の疎通 (“communication of one’s t’oughts; mutual understanding” /i’shi-no-sotsuu/).

  1. The kanji 勅 “imperial edict”

History of Kanji 勅For the kanji 勅 the seal style writing had “a bundle” (束) and “a plough” (力) or “a hand.” Together they originally meant “to bundle things in good order.” The kyuji 敕 came to be used to mean “imperial edict.” Its informal kanji 勅 became the shinji. The kanji 勅 means “imperial edict.” [The composition of the kanji 勅: 束 and 力]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /choku/ is in 勅語 (“an imperial eidict; a speech from the Throne” /cho’kugo/).

  1. The kanji 辣 “cruel; blistering; caustic”

There is no ancient writing and the kanji 辣 was created much later. It comprised 辛 “pungent; hard; tough” and 束used phonetically for /ratsu/. (束 was an abbreviated form of the kanji 剌 /ratsu/ “to sting.”) 辛 and 束 together gave the meaning “spicy; cruel. The kanji 辣 means “cruel; blistering; caustic.”[The composition of the kanji 辣: 辛 and 束]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ra/ is in悪辣な(“villainous” ‘akuratsu-na/) and 辛辣な(“biting” /shinratsu-na/).

The next shape 必appear in the five Joyo kanji- 必密秘蜜泌.

  1. The kanji 必 “without fail; inevitable; (with negative) not necessarily”

FHistory of Kanji 必or the kanji 必 in (a) and (b) in bronze ware style and (c) in seal style it was “a tool for straightening an arrow by tightening flush.” Something being tightly bound did not allow any move. From that it meant “without fail.” Having no other option also meant “inevitable,” and with a negative it means “not necessarily; not entirely.” The kanji 必 means “without fail; inevitable; (with negative) not necessarily.”

The kun-yomi 必ず /kanara-zu/ means “without fail.” The on-yomi /hitsu/ is in 必要な(“necessary” /hitsuyoo-na/), 必然的な (“inevitable” /hitsuzenteki-na/) and 必死になって(“run for one’s life; desperately” /hisshi-ni-na’tte/).

  1. The kanji 密 “secret; dense; close”

History of Kanji 密For the kanji 密 in (a) and (b) the top was “a tightly wrapped halberd inside a house or shrine,” and the bottom was a “fire.” A fire had a cleansing power in religious rite. From a rite that was conducted hidden inside meant “secret.” In (c) in seal style the bottom became a mountain, most likely miscopied from the original “a fire.” The kanji 密 means “secret; dense.”  [The composition of the kanji 密: 宀, 必 and 山]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /mitsu/ is in 秘密 (“secret” /himitsu/), 機密書類(“confidential documents” /kimitsu-sho’rui/) and 精密機器 (“precision instrument” /seemitsu-ki’kai/), 密会 (“secrete meeting; clandestine meeting” /mikkai/) and 密着する (“stick fast to; adhere closely” /micchaku-suru/).

  1. The kanji 秘 “secret; to hide”

History of Kanji 秘For the kanji 秘the seal style and the kyuji 祕comprised 示“an altar table with offering” and 必used phonetically for hito mean “secret.” Together they signified “a religious rite secretly performed” or “secret.” In the shinji 秘, 示was replaced by 禾, a bushu nogihen“rice plant” for a reason that was unclear. The kanji 秘means “secret; to hide.” [The composition of the kanji 秘:禾and 必]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hi/ is in 秘密(“secret” /himitsu/) and 極秘(“strictly confidential; top secrecy” /gokuhi/).

  1. The kanji蜜 “honey; nector”

History of Kanji 蜜In seal style of the kanji 蜜 the top of (a) had “a tripod inside a house” and “two worms” signifying “bees.” Bees produced “honey,” which was kept in a pot. In (b) 貝was replaced by 必for /mitsu/. The kanji 蜜 means “honey; nector.” [The composition of the kanji 蜜: 宀, 必 and 虫]

The kun-yomi 蜜 /mitsu/ means “honey” and is in 蜂蜜 (“bee honey” /hachimitsu/) and 花の蜜 (“flower nector” /hana-no-mi’tsu/).

  1. The kanji 泌 “to seep; ooze; run”

History of Kanji 泌The seal style writing of the kanji 泌comprised “water” and 必used phonetically for hitsu. In the origin of 必things such as an arrow was bound tightly, leainvg little space in between. Together they meant “water running through a narrow path.” The sound was onomatopic. In Japan the kanji 泌is used to mean “to seep; ooze; run.” [The composition of the kanji 泌: 氵and 必]

The kun-yomi is 沁みる /shimiru/ “to seep; ooze.” The on-yomi /pi/ is in 分泌(“secretion; discharge” /bunpi/).

We shall have one more post on the shapes that originated from a tied object. I find it very surprising to find so many shapes in this group.  Thank you very much for your reading.  –Noriko [May 12, 2018]

The Kanji 補捕浦舗哺博敷薄簿縛- (4)


The kanji 専, which we looked at in the last post, and the right side of 博 differ only in a tiny dot at the top right. It is the results of simplification that ended up with the two shapes resembling to each other almost identical. We have seen that the kyuji of 専, 專, came from a hand holding a spindle with a whorl at the bottom. In the shinji the little whorl was deleted. On the other hand if you look at the kyuji shape of the right side of the 博, 尃, very closely, the top was 甫 (The development is shown between the kanji 5 哺 and 6 博 below).  In the shinji the bottom was “shaved off” for simplicity. Through standardization of shapes the original meanings were lost. Having going over the development of all Joyo kanji now I am quite amazed at the fact that origins were preserved in the majority of Joyo kanji, if we look for them. But this is not one of them. Let us look at the kanji that were related to 甫 on this post – the kanji 補捕浦舗哺・博敷薄簿縛.

History of Kanji 甫The shape 甫 “to protect” — It was a young plant whose roots were wrapped for protection in a net. Another view is that it was nursery of rice plant seedlings, giving the meaning “to spread.” It was used phonetically for /ho/. 甫 by itself is not used as kanji but it is a component of the kanji 補捕浦舗哺.

  1. The kanji 補 “to fill a gap; supplement; compensate”

History of Kanji 補For the kanji 補 the seal style writing comprised 衣 “clothes” and 甫 “a young plant whose roots were wrapped around” or “rice plant nursery” used phonetically for /ho/, together signifying “mending a hole in clothes.” The meaning was extended for more general use. In kanji “clothes” (衣) became 衤, a bushu koromohen“clothes.” The kanji 補 means “to fill a gap; supplement; compensate.” [The composition of the kanji 補: 衤 and 甫]

The kun-yomi 補う /ogina’u/ means “to compensate for; supplement.” The on-yomi /ho/ is in 補修工事 (“repair work maintenance work” /hoshuuko’oji/), 補助 (“assistance; support” /ho’jo/), 候補 (“candidate; the just the person for the job” /ko’oho/) and 補償する (“to indemnify; make up for” /hoshoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 捕 “to catch; seize”

History of Kanji 捕For the kanji 捕 the seal style writing comprised “hand; an act one does using a hand” (扌, a bushu tehen in kanji) and “roots of a young plant wrapped well” (甫) used phonetically for /ho/ to mean “to grab.” Together they signified “grabbing something by hand firmly.” The kanji 捕 means “to catch; seize.” [The composition of the kanji 捕: 扌 and 甫]

The kun-yomi 捕まえる /tsukamaeru/ means “to capture; seize.” Another kun-yomi 捕る /to‘ru/ means “to catch,” and /-doru/ is in 分捕る (“to plunder; loot” /bundo’ru/) and 生け捕る (“to capture alive” /ikedo’ru/). The on-yomi /ho/ is in 捕鯨 (“whaling” /hogee/), 捕獲枠 (“fishing or hunting quota” /hokaku’waku/) and 逮捕する (“to arrest; apprehend” /ta’iho-suru/).

  1. The kanji 浦 “creek; inlet; bay; seashore”

History of Kanji 浦The seal style writing of the kanji 浦 comprised “water” (氵) and 甫 “to spread” used phonetically for /ho/, together signifying “a wide area along water.” The kanji 浦 means “creek; inlet; bay; seashore.” [The composition of the kanji 浦: 氵 and 甫]

The kun-yomi 浦 /ura/ is in 津々浦々 (“from coast to coast; all over the country” /tsu’tsu ura’ura/). The on-yomi /ho/ is used in rarely used words.

  1. The kanji 舗 “shop”

History of Kanji 舗For the kanji 舗 the seal writing comprised 金 “metal” and 甫 used phonetically for /ho/, together signifying “a metal piece that was used on a door lock or handle.” Later it meant “shop,” and 金changed to 舍 “house.” The kyuji 舖, in blue,  The component 舍changed to 舎 in the shinji, as was the case with other kanji that contained it. The kanji 舗 means “shop.” [The composition of the kanji 舗: 舎 and 甫]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ho/ is in 舗装道路 (“paved street” /hosoodo’oro/), and /-po/ is in 店舗 (“shop” /te’npo/). It is also used for the Japanese word /shinise/ 老舗 “a long-established store.”

  1. The kanji 哺 “to take in one’s mouth”

History of Kanji 哺The seal style writing of the kanji comprised 口 “mouth,” and 甫 used phonetically for /ho/ to mean “to catch,” together meaning a parent bird giving food to its chick’s mouth” and “to chew in the mouth.” The kanji 哺 means “to take in one’s mouth.” [The composition of the kanji 哺: 口 and 甫]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ho/ is in 哺乳類 (“Mammalia” /honyu’urui/) and 哺乳瓶 (“a baby’s nursing bottle” /honyu’ubin/).

History of Kanji 尃By adding a hand below 甫, the shape 尃 in the kyuji style, signified “a hand planting seedlings” or “nursery.” It meant “to spread” and further “wide.” The kanji are 博敷薄簿縛.

  1. The kanji 博 “spreading; wide; broad”

History of Kanji 博For the kanji 博 the bronze ware style writings comprised 尃 “young plant with its roots protected by a hand” used phonetically for /hu; haku/ and 十 “gathering many things into one,” together signifying “planting young seedlings in a wide area” or more generally “spreading; wide.” Later the kanji 博 came to mean “breadth of knowledge.” The right side of the seal style writing still retained the image of the original meaning. The kanji 博 means “spreading; wide.” [The composition of the kanji 博: 十 and 一,曰,丨, a dot and 寸]

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /haku/ is in 博覧会 (“exhibition exposition” /hakura’nkai/), 博学 (“extensive learning; encyclopedic knowledge” /hakugaku/), 博士号 (“doctorate” /hakushi’goo/), 博士 (“expert, an expert” /ha’kase/). /-Baku/ is in 賭博 (“gambling” /tobaku/). /-Paku/ is in 万博 ( “a world fair” /banpaku/).

  1. The kanji 敷 “to spread out; stretch”

History of Kanji 敷For the kanji 敷 the bronze ware style writing was “a young seedling (甫) with its roots protected” that was held by “a hand” (寸), and was used phonetically for /hu/. In seal style “a hand holding a stick” (攴, a bushu bokunyuu) was added to signify “an action.” Together they signified “to plant a seedling in the ground and level the ground” or “to lay spread.” In kanji the bottom left became 方 “four directions.” The kanji 敷 means “to spread out; stretch.” [The composition of the kanji 敷: 一, 曰, 丨, a dot, 方 and 攵]

The kun-yomi 敷く /shiku/ means “to spread; pave; lay out,” and also is in 風呂敷 (“a wrapping cloth” /huro’shiki/), 屋敷 (“residential site; the premises” /yashiki’/), 座敷 (“Japanese-style tatami room; drawing room” /zashiki’/), 敷き布団 (“sleeping mat” /shikibu’ton/) and 敷居 (“threshold; sill of an entrance” /shikii/). The on-yomi /hu/ is in 敷設する (“to construct; build” /husetsu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 薄 “thin; weak; watery”

History of Kanji 薄The seal style of the kanji 薄 comprised“plants” (艸), “water” (氵) and  “wide; to spread flat” used phonetically for /haku/. Water or plants spread in a wide area made it thin. The kanji 薄 meant “thin; weak; watery.” [The composition of the kanji 薄: 艹, 氵and the right side of 博]

The kun-yomi 薄い /usui/ means “thin; weak; watery; pale,” and is in 薄める (“to dilute; weaken” /usumeru/), 手薄な (“thinly staffed” /teusu-na/) and 薄暗い (“gloomy; dusky; dim” /usugurai/). The on-yomi /haku/ is in 軽薄な (“indiscreet; frivolous” /keehaku-na/) and 薄情な (“heartless; coldhearted” /hakujoo-na/).

  1. The kanji 簿 “register; bookkeeping record”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 簿. The kanji had 竹, a bushu takekammuri “bamboo,” and the same bottom as 薄 “thin” used phonetically for /bo/. Thin wood or bamboo pieces were used for bookkeeping and were bound together. The kanji 簿 means “register; bookkeeping record.” [The composition of the kanji 簿: 竹かんむり, 氵 and the right side of 博]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /bo/ is in 名簿 (“roll; name list” /meebo/), 帳簿 (“an account book; ledger” /choobo/), 簿記 (“register” /bo’ki/), 戸籍簿 (“a record of koseki – official family register”/koseki’bo/) and 家計簿 (“a housekeeping accounts book” /kake’ebo/).

  1. The kanji 縛 “to restrain; bind”

History of Kanji 縛The seal style writing of the kanji 縛 comprised 糸 “skein of threads” and “a young seedling held in a hand” used phonetically for /baku/. Something constrained in one’s hand and bound in threads gave the meaning “to bind.” The kanji 縛 means “to restrain; bind.” [The composition of the kanji 縛: 糸 and the right side of 博]

The kun-yomi 縛る /shiba’ru/ means “to bind.” The on-yomi /baku/ is in 束縛 (“restraint; shackles” /sokubaku/) and 呪縛 (“spell” /jubaku/).

In our four posts we explored kanji that appeared to share the same original shape (Please refer to the comparison of 東重童専甫 table on our last post). The first two posts were related to stuff that was wrapped around and tied at the two openings and in the middle, signifying “stuff; weight.” The third post was about a spindle being turned by a hand, signifying “to rotate; roll.” And this post was about a seedling whose roots were wrapped for protection, signifying “to protect,” and a hand added to it, signifying “to spread; broad.” On the table we see that the original shapes of all four shapes existed in oracle bone style, the oldest style (all in brown in our color). We also see how creators differentiated meanings using simple shapes available. They would have been astonished to know how complex their simple shapes had become. In the next post we move onto the topic of things that were bundled. Thank you very much for your reading. — Noriko [May 5, 2018]