The Kanji 凶胸凸凹区殴欧枢匹医匠- (2)

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As the last category of kanji origin, we are exploring kanji that originated from a shape. In this post we are going to look at 凵 “a receptacle; container” in the kanji 凶胸凸凹 and 匸 “a hiding place” in the kanji 区殴欧枢匹医匠.

  1. The kanji 凶 “misfortune; disaster; bad luck”

History of Kanji 区For the kanji 凶 one view is that in the seal style writing, in red,the bottom凵was “a container that was empty.” Having no rice in the container signified “famine.” From that it meant “disaster; famine.” Another view is that the bottom (凵) was a chest. The inside shape was a tattooing on the deceased chest to prevent an evil to come near. It meant “misfortune; bad luck.”The kanji 凶 means “misfortune; disaster; bad luck.” [The composition of the kanji: メ and 凵]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi 凶 /kyoo/ means “disaster,” and is in 凶器(“dangerous weapon; the weapon used in an assault” /kyo’oki/), 凶作 (“a very poor harvest; a crop failure” /kyoosaku/), 凶暴な (“atrocious; barbarious” /kyooboo-na/, 凶悪な (“extremely wicked; heinous” /kyooaku-na/), 吉凶 (“good or bad luck; fortune” /kikkyoo/) and 吉凶を占う (“to tell someone’s fortunre” /kikkyoo o urana’u/).

  1. The kanji 胸”chest; bosom; mind”

History of Kanji 胸For the kanji 胸 the bronze ware style writing, in green, comprised “chest” (凶) used phonetically for kyooand “flesh; part of the body” (月), together signifying “a chest.” In seal style, 凶 was placed inside the shape 勹 “something that surrounds” or “a body bending over” without 月. In kanji 月returned to the left as the bushu nikuzuki. The kanji 胸 means “chest; bosom; mind.”

The kun-yomi 胸 /mune’/ means “chest; breast; heart; lung,” and is in 胸元 “the pit of the stomach; the bosom,” 胸を張る (“to be puffed up with pride” /mune’-o haru/), 胸が塞がる (“full of deep emotion” /mune’-ga husagaru/) and 胸算用 (“expectation; anticipation” /munazanyoo/). The on-yomi /kyoo/ is in 胸囲 (“one’s chest measurement” /kyo’oi/), 度胸 (“boldness; daring” /do’kyoo/ and 胸筋を開く (“to be frank; have a hear-to-heart talk” /kyookin-o hira’ku/).

  1. The kanji 凸 “protruding; convex”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 凸. It signifies something that had protrusion in the middle. It is used in a pair with the kanji 凹. The kanji 凸 means “protruding; convex.”

There is no kun-yomi, but the word /dekoboko/ “unevenness; bumpiness” is often written as 凸凹. The on-yomi /totsu/ is in 凸レンズ (“a convex lens” /totsure’nzu/) and 両凸レンズ (“double-convex lens” /ryoototsu-re’nzu/).

  1. The kanji 凹 “hollow; conclave”

There is no ancient writing for the kanji 凹. It signifies something that had a conclave in the middle. The kanji 凹 means “hollow; conclave.”

The kun-yomi 凹む /hekomu/ means “to give; collapse; be beaten; become disheartened.” The on-yomi /oo/ is in 凹凸 (“unevenness; irregularity” /oototsu/), 凹面(“concave side; hollow side” /oomen/), 凹レンズ (“a concave lens” /oore’nzu/) and 凹凸レンズ (“a concavo-convex lens” /outotsu-re’nzu/).

Related to this shape is the origin of the kanji 脳悩思細 that pertained “brains.” They were discussed twice on the earlier posts (February 21, 2015 and July 25, 2015.) Thrice would be a little overdone, so we are not going to look at them here. In the earlier posts you can see that the ancient writings all had the shape 囟. The brain was represented by メshape inside the skull. The shape 囟has also been interpreted as a baby’s fontanel, a soft spot between the bones on a new baby’s head signifying “brain.”

The next group is 匸 “a hiding place.”

  1. The kanji 区 “to separate; divide; section; ward”

History of Kanji 区For the kanji 区 the oracle bone style writing, in light brown, had “three boxes (口) stashed away behind a screen.” A screen separated them from others or make smaller sections. It meant “to separate; divide; section.” In bronze ware style the boxes were linked together. In seal style and kyuji (區) three boxes remained, but in shinji they were replaced by a simplifying shape. In Japan in a larger city this is used in an address as  /ku/ “ward.” The kanji 区means “to separate; divide; section; ward.” [The composition of the kanji:  凵 and メ]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ku/ is in 区画 (“subdivision; panel” /kukaku/), 区分 (“division” /ku’bun/), 区域 (“area; segment; zone” /ku’iki/), 学区(“school district” /ga’kku/) and 港区 (“Minato-ward” in Tokyo /minato’-ku/).

  1. The kanji 枢 “pivot; center; essence; coffin”

History of Kanji 枢For the kanji 枢 the seal style writing comprised 木 “tree; wood” and 區, which meant “something concealed.” A pivot to a wooden door” is not visible and yet it is  important for the use of a door and it signified “essence; very important.” The kyuji 樞 reflected seal style, which was simplified to 枢 in the shinji. The kanji 枢 meant “pivot; center; essence.” A wooden box to cover the deceased is “coffin.” [The composition of the kanji: 木 and 区]

The kun-yomi枢/hitsugi/ means “coffin.” The on-yomi /suu/ is in 枢機 (“most important affair” /su’uki/), 中枢 (“center; centrum” /chuusuu/) and 運動中枢 (“motor center” /undo-chu’usuu/).

  1. The kanji 殴 “to strike; assault; beat”

History of Kanji 殴For the kanji 殴 the left side of the bronze ware style writing was used phonetically for /oo/, and the right side was “a hand holding a stick,” which would have become 攴 “to act; cause.” They meant “to hit.” In seal style a stick was replaced by weapon, forming 殳, a bushu hokozukuri“to strike.” The kyuji 毆 was replaced by the shinji 殴. The kanji 殴 means “to strike; assault; beat.” [The composition of the kanji:  匸,メ and 殳]

The kun-yomi 殴る /nagu’ru/ means “to strike,” and is in 殴り書き (“scribble; scrabble” /nagurigaki/), 殴り合い (“fisticuffs” /naguriai/) and 殴り込む (“to raid; laugh an attack” /naguriko’mu/). The on-yomi /oo/ is in 殴打 (“strike; blow” /o’oda/).

  1. The kaji 欧 “Europe; European”

History of Kanji 欧For the kanji 欧in seal style 區was used phonetically for /oo/ to mean “to groan; howl,” and the right side was “a person singing with his mouth open large.” Together they originally meant “to groan; howl.” It was used only phonetically to mean “Europe.” The kyuji 歐 reflected the seal style writing. The kanji 欧means “Europe; European.” [The composition of the kanji:  匸, メ and 欠]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /oo/ is in 欧州 (“Europe” /o’oshuu/), 北欧(“Scandinavian countries” /hokuhoo) and 欧米 (“the west; Europe and America” /oobee/).

  1. The kanji 匹 “a counter of animals”

History of Kanji 匹For the kanji 匹the origin is not clear. (a)(b) and (c) in bronze ware style all had the shape 厂 with a couple of curved lines underneath. Different accounts include “two pieces of cloth hanging down,” giving the meaning “to match,” and “horses bellies lining up.” The kanji 匹 is a counter of animal.[The composition of the kanji:  一, 儿 and an angle]

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hiki/ was used as a counter of animal as in 二匹(/nihiki/ “two small animals”).  /Hit-/ is in 匹敵する”equal; comparable” /hitteki-suru/,  匹夫の勇”rash courage; foolhardiness” /hippu-no-yuu/.

  1. The kanji 医 “medical”

History of Kanji 医For the kanji 医, the two seal style writings, (b) and (c), were originally not related. (b) had its oracle bone style precursor (a), which had an arrow in a box that signified “to hide an arrow.” The other seal style writing (c) was more complex: It had 医 “a box of arrow,” 殳 “a hand holding a weapon or tool” together signifying “an injury caused by an arrow in battle.”  The bottom 酉 was “a spirit jar” that signified “medicinal spirit.” Altogether “treating an injured person with medical spirit” meant “medicine.” The kyujitai (d) 醫 reflected (c). The shinjitai has retained “an arrow hidden in a box” only. The kanji 医 meant “medicine.” [The composition of the kanji:  凵 and 矢]  (from the post on February 26, 2017)

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi 医 meant “medicine; medical,” and is in 医者 (“medical doctor” /isha/), 医学 (“medical science” /i’gaku/), 内科医 (“doctor of internal medicine; physician” /naika’i/) and 医療費 (“fee for medical treatment; doctor’s bill” /iryo’ohi).

  1. The kanji 匠 “design; craftsman; master”

History of Kanji 匠For the kanji 匠, 斤  “an axe” was inside a box or container 匚. Together they meant “to make a craft work using an axe” or a person who made craft work using an axe. It also included someone who excelled in his art. [The composition of the kanji: 斤 and 凵] (from the post on November 27, 2016)

The kun-yomi /takumi/ means “artisan; master craftsman.” The on-yomi /shoso/ is in 意匠 (“design; idea” /i’shoo/), 巨匠 (“great master” /kyoshoo/) and 師匠 (“teacher; master” in traditional art /shi’shoo/).

We shall continue with our exploration on kanji that originated from a shape next time. Thank you very much for your reading. – Noriko [June 2, 2018]

Kanji 医短至屋握室窒到倒致緻-“arrow” (2)

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In the last post we looked at a few kanji that originated from 矢 “arrow.”  We start this post by adding two more kanji that contains 矢 – 医短. Then we look at kanji that contains 至, with a reduced shape of an arrow at the top – 至屋握室窒到倒致緻.

  1. The kanji 医 “medical”

history-of-kanji-%e5%8c%bbFor the kanji 医, the two seal style writings, (b) and (c), were originally not related. (b) had its oracle bone style precursor (a), which had an arrow in a box that signified “to hide an arrow.” The other seal style writing (c) had (b) 医 “a box of arrows” at the top left. With the right side殳 “a hand holding a weapon or tool” that meant “to cause,” together it meant an injury caused by an arrow in battle. The bottom酉 was a spirit jar that signified medicinal spirit. Altogether “treating an injured person with medical spirit” meant “medicine.” The kyujitai (d) reflected (c). The shinjitai became only an arrow hidden in a box. The kanji 医 meant “medicine.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi 医 meant “medicine; medical,” and is in 医者 (“medical doctor” /isha/), 医学 (“medical science” /i’gaku/), 内科医 (“doctor of internal medicine; physician” /naika’i/) and 医療費 (“fee for medical treatment; doctor’s bill” /iryo’ohi).

  1. The kanji 短 “short”

history-of-kanji-%e7%9f%adFor the kanji 短, the left side was an arrow and the right side 豆 was a small one-legged tray or bowl. Setsumon explained that an arrow was used in measuring length. From that the kanji 短 meant “short.”

The kun-yomi 短い /mijika’i/ meant “short,” and is in 気短な (“short-tempered; impatient” /kimijika-na/) and in the expression 手短に言えば (“to put it succinctly; to cut a long story short” /temijika-ni-ie’ba/).  The on-yomi /tan/ is in 長短 (“merits and demerits; strength and weakness” /cho’otan/), 短所 (“weakness” /ta’nsho/), 単刀直入に (”frankly; come straight to the point” /tantoo-chokunyuu-ni/) and 短歌 (“tanka poetry; 31-syllabled poem” /ta’nka/).

Now we move to another group of “arrow” kanji — 至屋握室窒到倒致緻.

  1. The kanji 至 “to reach an end”

history-of-kanji-%e8%87%b3For the kanji 至, the bronze ware style writing was an arrow with its arrowhead at the bottom, hitting the ground (一). It meant “to reach an end.” In seal style the arrowhead became long, which in kanji became a part of 土 “soil; ground.” The kanji 至 meant “to reach an end; to the end.”

The kun-yomi 至る /itaru/ means “to reach; arrive,” and is in the expression 至れり尽せりの (“complete; leaving nothing to be desired” /itareri-tsukuse’ri-no/) and 至る所に (“everywhere” /ita’rutokoro-ni/). The on-yomi /shi/ is 至急 (“urgently; without delay” /shikyuu/), 必至だ (“inevitable” /hisshi-da/), 至上命令 (“supreme directive” /shijoome’eree/) and 夏至 and冬至 (“summer solstice” around June 22 and “winter solstice” around December 22. /geshi/ and /tooji/).

  1. The kanji 屋 “house; roof”

history-of-kanji-%e5%b1%8bFor the kanji 屋, in (a) in Old style, (b) Chubun style, and (c) seal style 至 was placed inside a house, (a), or under尸 , (b) and (c). There are different views on its origin: (1) Shirkawa took the view that in ancient times an arrow was shot to determine an appropriate location and where an arrow dropped was considered to be the place. That is 至.  尸 was a hut to house a corpse to intern to weather it before burial. Together 屋 meant a house. (2) Kanjigen explained that a covering drapery 至 “dead end” together blocked passing. 屋 meant a covered house; (3) The Kadokawa dictionary explained 尸 “drapery” and 至 “to reach” together meant a secluded room in the back. The fact that a bushu shikabane 尸has two distinctly different meanings –“corpse,” as the name indicates, and “roof” — is reflected in these different views. The kanji 屋 meant “roof; house.”  In Japanese it was also used to mean business that was conducted under a roof, a “store.”

The kun-yomi /ya/ is in 本屋 (“bookstore” /ho’nya/), 屋号 (“name of a store” /ya’goo/), 屋根 (“roof” /ya’ne/) and 小屋 (“hut” /koya/). The on-yomi /oku/ is in 屋外 (“outdoors; open-air” /oku’gaai/) and 屋上 (“rooftop” /okujoo/).

  1. The kanji 握 “to grip; grasp”

history-of-kanji-%e6%8f%a1The seal style writing of the kanji 握 had 扌, a bushu tehen “an act one does using a hand” and 屋 phonetically for /oku; aku/. Together a hand reaching out to seize meant “to grip; grasp.”

The kun-yomi /nigiru/ meant “to grip; grasp,” and is in the expression 手に汗を握る (“to be in breathless suspense; gripping; heated” /te’ni a’seonigiru/) . The on-yomi /aku/ is in 握手 (“shaking hands” /a’kushu/), 握力 (“grip strength” /aku’ryoku/) and 把握する(“perceive; grasp” /haaku-suru/).

  1. The kanji 室 “room”

history-of-kanji-%e5%ae%a4For the kanji 室 all three ancient style — oracle bone, bronze ware and seal — had a house (宀) and an arrow reaching the ground (至), signifying “the farthest point” in a house. Together they meant a secluded room in the back. The kanji 室 meant “room.”

The kun-yomi /muro/ is in 氷室 (“icehouse” /hi’muro/). The on-yomi /shitsu/ is in 教室 (“classroom” /kyooshitu/), 室内 (“inside a room” /shitsu’nai/), 寝室 (“bedroom” /shinshitsu/), 皇室 (“royal family” /kooshitsu/) and 側室 (“concubine” /sokushitsu/).

  1. The kanji 窒 “to suffocate; smother”

history-of-kanji-%e7%aa%92The seal style writing for the kanji 窒 had 穴 “house; cave” at the top and 至 “an arrow reaching the ground” used phonetically fpr /shi; tetsu/.  Together an arrow reaching a cave meant “to block passing or traffic.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chitsu/ is in 窒素 (“nitrogen” /chi’sso/) and 窒息する (“to smother; suffocate” /chissoku-suru/).

  1. The kanji 到 “to arrive; come”

history-of-kanji-%e5%88%b0

The two bronze ware style writings shown on the left had an arrow reaching the ground and a person standing on the right. Together they meant a person reaching the spot where an arrow dropped, or “to arrive.” In seal style on the right side a person changed to a sword, which became 刂, a bushu rittoo in kanji. The mix-up of 人 and 刀 in kanji history was not uncommon, as we saw in the kanji召 in an earlier post. The kanji 到 meant “to arrive; come.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /too/ is in 到着する (“to arrive” /toochaku-suru/), 到底〜ない (“cannot possibly” /tootee ~nai/), 到達する (“to attain” /tootasu-suru/) and 殺到する (“to rush to” /sattoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 倒 “to fall down; topple; collapse”

history-of-kanji-%e5%80%92The seal style writing for the kanji 倒 had イ “person” and 到 “to reach,” from a person arriving at where an arrow reached, used phonetically for /too/. Together a person retrieving an arrow and coming back originally signified a person in a reverse manner or upside-down position. The kanji 倒 meant “to invert; fall; topple.”

The kun-yomi 倒れる /taore’ru/ means “to fall; topple,” and 倒す means “to topple; bring down.” The on-yomi /too/ is in 倒壊する (“to collapse; topple” /tookai-suru/), 倒産 (“bankruptcy” /toosan/), 打倒 する (“to overthrow” /datoo-suru/) and卒倒する (“to faint; faint unconsciously” /sottoo-suru/).

  1. The kanji 致 “to do; cause”

history-of-kanji-%e8%87%b4The seal style writing for the kanji 致 had 至on the left. The right side was a hand or glove for shooting arrows holding a long bow. Together they meant “to make someone do something.” In kanji the right side became 攵,a bushu bokuzukuri “to cause.“

The kun-yomi 致す /ita’su/ means “to do” in humble style. The on-yomi /chi/ is in 致命的な (“fatal” /shimeeteki-na/), 一致する (“to agree; conform” /icchi-suru/), 合致する (“to coincide; correspond” /gacchi-suru/ and 誘致する (“to lure; entice” /yu’uchi-suru/).

  1. The kanji 緻 “minute; fine”

history-of-kanji-%e7%b7%bbThe seal style writing of the kanji 緻 had 糸 “stein of threads” that signified “close-grained; fine” next to 致 “to do” used phonetically for /chi/. Together they meant “fine.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /chi/ is in 緻密な (“minute; intricate” /chimitsu-na/) and 精緻な (“detailed; thorough; precise” /seemitsu-na/).

We have collected 16 kanji that originated from an arrow in this and last posts.  I must admit that I was surprised how extensively an image or meaning of an arrow was used in kanji, just as I was astonished at the extensive use of a halberd in Japanese kanji in our December and January posts. I was reminded of the role that that weapons played in ancient time in China and how it inspired the creators of ancient writing to go beyond the use of arrow as weapon. Thank you for your reading.     -Noriko [February 26, 2017]