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correct; justice; righteous; 10**40
on: SEI SHOU
kun: tada-shii tada-su masa masa-ni
names: oo kuni ma masashi tadashi
strokes: 5
radical: (no. 77) (Nelson uses , no. 1)
zhèng straight; upright; proper; main; principal; to correct; to rectify; exactly; just (at that time); right (in that place); (math.) positive; ◇ zhēng first month of the lunar year;
pinyin: zhèng zhēng
strokes: 5
radical: (no. 77) (Nelson uses , no. 1)

Graphical etymology

正 is a probably a semantic compound. Originally it looked like (see below). It consisted of a symbol that looked like and “foot” (a few early variants have two feet). Some scholars take to represent a walled city or a walled citadel, combined with “foot” expressing the early meaning of “marching or attacking”.¹ Qiú thinks simply represents “a destination” (which doesn’t change the analysis of 正 a lot).² However, Outlier asserts that is the graph , acting as phonetic, theorizing that there has been a significant sound change between 正 and 丁, rendering the phonetic “not obvious”.³

正 is the protoform of . Since in early times 正 was often used to write the word “be straight, to correct”, the signific was added to 正 (creating 征) to write the original word.⁴ Schuessler thinks that the words 正 and 征 are related, where “be straight, correct” is derived from (“to target, make straight for”:) “to march on / against, campaign”.⁵

Mnemonics

Notes

  1. Ochiai, p. 139; Earlier Shirakawa, pp. 492-493 (referenced in Seeley et al).
  2. Qiú, 2000, pp. 191-192.
  3. Outlier, entry for 正.
  4. Qiú, 2000, p. 330; Schuessler, p. 612.
  5. Schuessler, ibid.
2019-08-09

Resources

OBI for 正.

Additional details for 正

Morohashi: 16255 6.0658
Item no. in Henshall: 41
SKIP code: 4-5-1
Four corner code: 1010.1
Korean reading: jeong
Unihan English meanings (for Chinese):
right, proper, correct
Unihan on: SEI SHOU
Unihan kun: TADASHII MASA TADASU
Unihan pinyin: zhèng
U+6B63
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