Japanese
Chinese
Graphical etymology
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faith; truth; fidelity; trust
on: SHIN
kun: makoto tayori makaseru
names: shi shiga shina shino shibu toki nobi nobu makoto
strokes: 9
radical: 人, 亻,𠆢 (no. 9)
letter; mail; CL: 封 fēng; to trust; to believe; to profess faith in; truthful; confidence; trust; at will; at random;
pinyin: xìn
[free morpheme] (can be used on its own)
strokes: 9
radical: 人, 亻,𠆢 (no. 9)

Graphical etymology

The modern form of 信 consists of “words” 言 and “person” 亻/人, the latter lending its sound, and possibly the meaning “say”. In earlier forms instead of person acting as phonetic, it had “thousand” 千 (which itself uses 人 as phonetic) and still earlier “heart/mind” 心.¹ The earliest form might have been taken as “someone who speaks from the heart” is believable, trustworthy. The meaning of communication may have originated in a trusted envoy

Mnemonics

Notes

  1. Katō et al. (107); Schuessler (p. 573).
  2. In old Chinese, 信 pointed to a word ‘to believe, trust, faithfulness, truth’ → (‘something written entrusted to an envoy’:) ‘letter’ (Schuessler p. 539).
  3. After Ezra Pound, who apparently wrote ‘a man standing by his word’ (quoted in Edward McDonald ‘Getting over the Walls of Discourse: “Character Fetishization” in Chinese Studies’ The Journal of Asian Studies Vol 68, No. 4: 2009: 1189-1213).

Comments

A longer article on 信 is here.

Japanese vocabulary

信仰 shinkō faith; belief
信頼 shinrai trust; confidence
送信 sōshin transmission; sending

2019-05-24

Additional details for 信

Morohashi: 707 1.0798
Item no. in Henshall: 513
SKIP code: 1-2-7
Four corner code: 2026.1
Korean reading: sin
Kanjidic cross references: variant kanji (JIS): 15D50
Unihan English meanings (for Chinese):
trust, believe; letter
Unihan on: SHIN
Unihan kun: MAKOTO TAYORI MAKASERU
Unihan pinyin: xìn
Unihan kZVariant:
U+4FE1
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