The Kanji 巾布怖希飾帥・帯滞・幣弊蔽


This is the 8th posting on kanji that originated from “a skein of silk thread” (糸), “a collar,” which became 衣 and 衤, and something that pertained to “fabric.” In this post we are going to look at the kanji 巾布怖希飾帥・帯滞・幣弊蔽.

  1. The kanji 巾 “cloth”

History of Kanji 巾For the kanji 巾 in all the three ancient writing styles (oracle bone, in brown; bronze ware, in green; and seal, in red) and the kanji, it basically remained the same shape. It was a piece of ceremonial scarf that was worn around the waist by a man. From that it meant “a piece of cloth.”

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji, even though 巾 has been used informally for the word  /haba/ “width” (幅).  The on-yomi /kin/ is in 布巾 (“kitchen cloth” /huki’n/), 頭巾 (“hood; headscarf” /zu’kin/) and 三角巾 (“triangular bandage” /sanka’kkin/).

  1. The kanji 布 “cloth; to lay flat; spread”

History of Kanji 布For the kanji 布, in bronze ware style it had a hand holding an axe or a rock at the top, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “to pound.” Our reader may recognize this shape as the bronze ware style writing of the kanji 父 “father.” (A person holding an important axe or a rock in his hand was a father or paternal head.) Underneath was 巾 “cloth or scarf that a man wore around the waist.” In ancient times before cotton was introduced cloth was made of fibrous stems and stalks of a plant such as hemp by pounding it flat with a stone. The kanji 布 meant “cloth.” A piece of cloth covered a wide area, and it also meant “to spread.”  The kanji 布 means “cloth; to lay flat; spread.”

The kun-yomi 布 /nuno/ means “cloth.” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 毛布 (“blanket; woolen blanket” /mo’ohu/), 布教 (“missionary work; propagation of religion” /hukyoo/) and 布団 (“futon; padded mattress; bedding” /huton/). /-Pu/ is in 散布する(“to spray; scatter” /sanpu-suru/).

  1. The kanji 怖 “fear; scary”

History of Kanji 怖For the kanji 怖 in seal style, (a) was comprised of 心 “heart” and 甫, which was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear,” whereas (b) was comprised of 心 “heart” and 布, which was also used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear.”  (a) became the kanji 怖 in which “heart” became a bushu risshinben “heart.” The kanji 怖 means “afraid; frightening; terrifying; fear.”

The kun-yomi /kowa’i/ means “frightening; petrifying; scary.” The on-yomi /hu/ is in 恐怖 (“terror” /kyo’ohu/) and 畏怖の念 (“sense of the awe” /ihu-no-ne’n/).

  1. The kanji 希 “rare; wish”

History of Kanji 希History of Kanji 爻In seal style the top meant “to mix.” The history of the shape 爻 is shown on the right. Many  threads crossing made woven cloth. Fine thin woven cloth would have a light coming through between threads, and thinness signified “rare.” The bottom, 巾, was a piece of cloth. Together they meant something that was “rare.” One makes a “wish” for something that is not commonly around. The kanji 希 means “wish; to beseech; rare.”

There is another kanji that uses 希, with , a bushu nogihen — the kanji 稀 “rare; thin,” in words such as 稀な (“rare” /mare-na/), 稀薄 (“thin” /kihaku/) and 稀少価値 (“rarity value” /kishooka’chi/). Another on-yomi /ke/ is in 稀有な (“rare” /ke’u-na/). Because the kanji 稀 is not Joyo kanji, 希 may be substituted in some words.

There is no kun-yomi in Joyo kanji. The on-yomi /ki/ is in 希望 (“hope; wish” /kiboo/), 希薄な (“thin” /kihaku-na/) and 希少価値 (“scarcity value” /kishooka’chi/).

  1. The kanji 飾 “to decorate; embellish”

History of Kanji 飾In the seal style writing of the kanji 飾, 食 “eat; food” and 人 “person” together were used phonetically for /shoku/ and meant someone at a banquet table. With 巾 “cloth” below added, they originally meant “to wipe” (dishes).  Wiping something with a piece of cloth meant to make it clean or pretty. Thee kanji 飾 meant “to decorate; embellish.”

The kun-yomi 飾 /kazaru/ means “to embellish; decorate.” The on-yomi /shoku/ is in 装飾品 (“ornament; decorative thing” /shooshokuhin/) and 修飾語 (“modifier; qualifier” in grammar  /shuushokugo/).

  1. The kanji 帥 “general; commander”

History of Kanji 帥For the kanji 帥 in bronze ware style writings, (a), (b) and (c) was “a door or panel to open a family altar,” and the right side 巾 was “cloth.” Together wiping one’s family altar signified one following a god, and an exemplar. The flipside of following someone was “to lead; to take command.” [Shirakawa] The kanji 帥 means “general; commander.” In seal style (d) was a piece of cloth for a woman. In (e) the left side became simplified. Another view [Kadokawa dictionary] takes the left side of 帥 as signifying “band of people,” and together with 巾 “flag,” they meant commanding a troop with a flag.

The use of the kanji 帥 is limited. There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /sui/ is in 元帥 (“general; commander” /ge’nsui/).

  1. The kanji 帯 “belt; sash; long, narrow stretch of area”

History of Kanji 帯For the kanji 帯 the top of the seal style writing was a belt with accessory, and the bottom was a cloth in front, such as an apron. A rope that helped to keep clothes on was a “sash.” A sash is something you put on yourself. From that it also meant “to have on oneself.” The top of the kyuji 帶 was slightly simplified. The kanji 帯 also meant a “long, narrow stretch of area; strip; sash.”

The kun-yomi 帯 /o’bi/ meant “sash; band.” The on-yomi /tai/ is in 一帯 (“whole area” /ittai/), 温帯 (“temperate zone” /ontai/) and 携帯 (“portable type; carrying” /keetai/), which is now used as an abbreviated word for 携帯電話 (“cell phone; portable phone” /keetaide’nwa/).

  1. The kanji 滞 “to stagnate; be delayed”

History of Kanji 滞For the kanji 滞 the seal style writing was comprised of “water” and 帯, which was used phonetically for /tai/ to mean “belt; strip.” Together “water in an area” gave the meaning “to stagnate,” which further meant “to be delayed; be behindhand with.”

The kun-yomi /todokoo’ru/ means “to stagnate; fall behind (in payment).” The on-yomi /tai/ is in 滞納 (“failure to pay” /tainoo/), 停滞する (“to stop moving; stagnate” /teetai-suru/) and 沈滞ムード (“depressed mood; slum” /chintaimu’udo/).

History of Kanji 敝The shape 敝— The next three kanji 幣弊蔽 share the shape 敝. The history of 敝 is shown on the right. In bronze ware style the top left 巾 had two short lines inside, signifying that cloth is worn and torn. The bottom right was a hand holding a stick, signifying an action. In seal style they became 㡀 and攴. The kanji 敝 meant “cloth becomes rag; torn; to break; tire.”

  1. The kanji 幣 “money; sacred strips of paper”

History of Kanji 幣For the kanji 幣 the top 敝 was used phonetically for /hee/. The bottom was 巾 “cloth.” Together they meant “sacred piece of cloth for offering to a god.” An offering was sometimes money. From that the kanji 幣 meant “money.” It is also used to mean strips of hanging paper to mark a sacred area in Shinto to ward off evils.

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /hee/ is in 貨幣 (“money” /ka’hee/) and 紙幣 (“paper currency; note” /shi’hee/) an 御幣 (“paper strips” in Shinto. /gohee/).

  1. The kanji 弊 “to collapse; perish; our (humble)”

History of Kanji 弊For the kanji 弊 in seal style (a) and (b), the top was 敝, which was used phonetically for /hee/. The bottom of (a) was “dog” (犬), and (b) had “death” (死). A dog was said to have been used for poison testing. Together they meant “to collapse; perish; die; harmful.” The Correct writing (c) reflected (a) with 犬 at the bottom. The kanji 弊 was also used to mean “our (company)” in humble style. The kanji 弊 means “to collapse; to become exhausted; harmful; our (humble),” and is in 疲弊 (”impoverishment; exhaustion” /hihee/), 弊害 (“bad practice; harmful influence” /heegai/) and 語弊がある (“to be misleading” /gohee-ga-a’ru/).

  1. The kanji 蔽 “to conceal”

History of Kanji 蔽The seal style writing of the kanji 蔽 had 艸 “plant; grass” on top of 敝, which was used phonetically for /hee/. They meant that grass grew rampantly and covered or hid things. The kanji 蔽 means “to hide; cover; conceal.”

There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /-pee/ is in 隠蔽する(“to conceal; hide” /inpee-suru/).

With this post we end our exploration on kanji that originate from thread, a collar and clothes.  We will start another topic next topic. Thank you very much for your reading. — Noriko [May 7, 2017]

The Kanji 感情性恐怖怒悲快 – 心 こころ (4)


We are continuing to look at kanji that contain a component “heart.” In this post we are going to look at the kanji 感情悲恐怖怒悲 and 快.

(1) The kanji 感 “feeling; to feel”

History of the Kanji 感The kanji 感 “feeling; to feel” has a rather unexpected origin. The earliest sample we have for this kanji is a ten style sample, but the history of the top, which is the kanji 咸, shown on the right, gives us a better understanding. History of the kanji 咸In oracle bone style, in brown, and bronze ware style, in green, it was a halberd and a mouth, signifying “words.” A weapon was sacred to warriors and it had a fringe or decoration on the blade. In ten style, in red, the decoration became a long line on the left side. With a threat of a halberd, one was to keep the words inside. From that, the kanji 咸 meant “to lock up; shut away; confine.”

For the kanji 感, the bottom had 心 “heart.” Together they meant a feeling that was kept inside or to keep one’s emotion inside. There is no kun-yomi. The on-yomi /ka’n/ is in 感じる (“to feel” /kanjiru/), 感心する (“to be impressed; admire” /kanshin-suru/), 感動する (“to be moved” /kandoo-suru/), 感情 (“emotions; feeling” /kanjoo/) and 感覚 (“sense” /kankaku/).

(2) The kanji 情 “emotion”

History of the kanji 情For the kanji 情 the earliest writing available to us was also in ten style. But the right side 青 had a bronze ware style writing, as shown on the right side. So, let us look at the kanji 青 “blue; fresh.” History of the kanji 青In bronze ware style of the kanji 青, the top was a plant emerging, which signified “fresh; emerging.” It was the precursor to the kanji 生 “life; to be born; person.” (In the kanji 生, the short slanted stroke was added to emphasize the meaning of growing.) The bottom was a well with clean fresh water emphasized by a line inside. Together the kanji 青 meant fresh like growing plants and clean fresh water in a well. The color of fresh water is blue and the color of a growing plant is green. From that the kanji 青 means “blue; fresh.” The color blue often also refers to “green.” Now back to our kanji 情. The heart on the left and 青 “fresh” together signified an emotion that emerges anew in one’s heart.

The kun-yomi is 情 (“pity; sympathy” /na’sake/) and is also in 情けない (“woeful; miserable; deplorable” /nasakena’i/). The on-yomi /jo’o/ is in 感情 (“feelings; emotion”/kanjoo/), 情感のある (“expressive of an emotion” /jookan-no-a’ru/) and 情景 (“sight; scene” /jookee/).

Incidentally all the kanji that contain 青 used to have , in which the water in a well was shown as a short vertical stroke, signifying that the well was not empty.

(3) The kanji 性 “natural character; innate attribute; gender; sex”

History of the kanji 性While we are talking about the combination of a heart and an emerging plant, we should also touch upon another kanji 性. This kanji had the same components as the kanji 情, except the clean water. It meant a heart that one was born with or “innate nature.” From that it meant “natural character; innate attribute; gender; sex; having a tendency of.”

The kun-yomi 性 /sa’ga/ means “nature.” The on-yomi 性 /se’e/ by itself means “sex; gender,” and is in 女性 (“woman” /josee/), 性格 (“characters; personality; nature” /seekaku/), 性質 (“nature; disposition; composition” /seeshitu/). Another on-yomi /sho’o/ comes from a go-on and is in 性分 (“disposition; nature; temperament” /shoobun/) and 根性 (“guts; grit; push” /ko’njoo/).

(4) The kanji 恐 “fearful; to awe”

History of the kanji 恐In the bronze ware style of the kanji 恐 on the left, it was a person holding an instrument or tool (工) with two hands. It was used phonetically to mean “to fear.” Shirakawa (2004)’s explanation is that he was praying to a god as he held up a magic tool. In ten style under the tool a heart was added. The shape on the right side signified a person with two hands. In ten style this shape appears in other kanji such as 熱, 熟 and 藝 (芸), and meant a person handling something with both hands. In the kanji 恐, this shape became simplified to 凡, rather than 丸.

The kun-yomi 恐れる /osore’ru/ means “to fear,” and 恐ろしい /osoroshi’i/ means “frightful; horrifying; horrible.” It is also in a polite attention-getting expression, such as 恐れ入りますが (“I am terribly sorry to bother you, but…”  /oso’re irima’su-ga/). On the Joyo kanji list, this kanji lists only /oso(re’ru)/ as its kun-yomi and does not include the pronunciation /kowa’i/. However, it is widely used for恐い/kowa’i/ “scary; strict.” The on-yomi /kyo’o/ is in 恐慌 (“financial crisis” /kyookoo/), 恐竜 (“dinosaur” /kyooryuu/), 恐縮する (“to be obliged” /kyooshuku-suru/). The literal meaning of the word 恐縮 would be “I dwarf myself being awed,” but I do not think anyone thinks of the literal meaning in using this expression.  恐縮です (“deeply appreciated” /kyooshuku-de’su/) is also used as a formal business expression to express appreciation.

(5) The kanji 怖 “fearful”

History of the kanji 怖Another kanji for “fear” is the kanji 怖. In ten style, the left side was a heart. The right side had a hand and drapery, and was used phonetically for /hu/ to mean “fear.”  The kun-yomi is 怖い /kowa’i/ (“to be scared of”). Compared to the kanji 恐, this kanji tends to mean a more personal emotional experience of a fear. The on-yomi /hu/ is in 恐怖 (“fear; terror; horror” ‘kyo’ohu/), which have two kanji for “fear,” and 畏怖の念 (“sense of awe” /ihu-no-n’en/).

(6) The kanji 怒 “anger; wrath“

History of the kanji 怒In ten style the top of the kanji 怒 was a woman and a hand, which made the kanji 奴 (“fellow; guy” in the current use). The kanji 奴 by itself came from a female slave who had committed a crime. It was used phonetically for /do/ to signify intensity. Together with the bottom 心 “heart,” the kanji 怒 signified the agitated state of one’s heart, which was “wrath; anger.”

The kun-yomi 怒る /oko’ru/ means “to get angry.” Another kun-yomi /ika’ru/ also means “to get angry” in a more literary style and perhaps is a stronger emotion than /oko’ru./ The on-yomi /do/ is in 激怒 (“rage; fury” /ge’kido/) and 怒号 (“roar; outcry” /dogoo/).

(7) The kanji 悲 “sad; grief; sorrowful”

History of the kanji 悲The kanji 悲 consists of 非 and 心. History of the kanji 非The history of the top, which is the kanji 非, is shown on the right. The Setsumon’s account for 非 “different” was the two opposing wings of a flying bird. The two wings are never together. From that it came to mean “to be against; not good; not.”  The shape in ten style appeared almost identical in the kanji 悲.  In the kanji 悲, together with the heart, it signified a heart torn apart in grief, which meant “sorrow; grief; sad.”

The kun-yomi 悲しい /kanashii/ means “sad” and also makes a noun 悲しみ (“sorrow; grief” /kanashimi/).  The on-yomi /hi/ is in 悲観的な (“pessimistic” /hikanteki-na/), 悲劇 (“tragedy” /hi’geki/) and 悲鳴 (“scream” /himee/).

(8) The Kanji 快 “comfortable; pleasant”

History of the kanji 快In the ten style of the kanji 快, the left side was a vertical heart. The right side (夬) was used phonetically for /kai/, and had a knife or weapon and a hand, signifying “to cut.” The related kanji 決 had the same component. The kanji 決 “decisive; decision” came from an action that broke part of a riverbank to prevent flooding. It meant a decisive action after a long deliberation, like water gushing out at breaking of a river flow.

For the kanji 快, which has a bushu risshinben “heart”, we can interpret that it was a state of a mind in which a long held concern, or a weight on over mind, was finally lifted and one felt light-heated and pleasant. The kanji 快 means “pleasant; cheerful.”

The kun-yomi 快い /kokoroyo’i/ means “pleaseant; comfortable. The on-yomi /ka’i/ is in 快適な (“comfortable; pleasant” /kaiteki-na/), 快速電車 (“rapid train” /kaisokude’nsha/) and 快方に向かう (“to get better; be recovering” /ka’ihoo ni mukau/).

We have covered quite a lot of the kanji that contain “heart” in the last four postings. It looks like we need one more posting to wrap up the kanji that are frequently used in the daily kanji. [February 28, 2015]