Japanese
Chinese
Graphical etymology
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stop; halt
on: SHI
kun: to-maru -do-mari to-meru -to-meru -do-me todo-meru todo-me todo-maru ya-meru ya-mu -ya-mu yo-su -sa-su -sa-shi
names: dome
strokes: 4
radical: (no. 77)
to stop; to prohibit; until; only;
pinyin: zhǐ
strokes: 4
radical: (no. 77)

Graphical etymology

Originally 止 was a pictographic representation of a foot . For easier writing the five toes were limited to three, and the overall shape restricted to a few lines, making the graph quite abstract (see below). Its current standard form is easy enough to remember as a foot, but hardly looks like one any more.

In composite graphs that date back to oracle bone inscriptions 止 could be used concretely to classify words having to do with the foot, or more abstractly with “moving forward”. When 止 was used on itself in oracle bone inscriptions, 止 could mean “foot” or “to walk, to go”.¹ However, somewhat confusingly later the extended meaning “to stop” came to dominate the use of 止.²

Notes

  1. Ochiai, 2016, pp. 134-135.
  2. Ochiai, ibid. Qiú, 2000, p. 329. Qiú writes that at a later stage the composite graph was made to “denote its original meaning”.
2019-07-22

Resources

Early developmental overview for 止 taken from Qiú, 2000, p. 65.

Additional details for 止

Morohashi: 16253 6.0655
Item no. in Henshall: 129
SKIP code: 3-2-2
Four corner code: 2110.0
Korean reading: ji
Unihan English meanings (for Chinese):
stop, halt, desist; detain
Unihan on: SHI
Unihan kun: TOMARU ASHI TOMERU
Unihan pinyin: zhǐ
Unihan kZVariant:
U+6B62
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