Associative: 会意字

What is 会意字?


会意字 are Associative compound characters.
Here is the original article《说文解字》中的会意字调查分析作者:李野尘

Associative in that the two parts of the Chinese characters with one part meaning, the other part about figure. Let's take the first example: xiū 休 rest
The left of this character xiū 休 rest is the radical of a person. The right part of this character means 'tree' (denoted by 木)
Hence it is like a man leaning against the tree, having a rest. Especially back in the ancient times, people worked in the field. When they rest, it is next to a tree. Using this Chinese character, you can think of this scenario instinctively. 

 The second example is  dàn 旦 daybreak or dawn.
There is an upper and lower part of the character. The Upper part is“rì 日 the sun,” and the lower part is like the horizon line 一 . This character is easily remembered when you think of the sun rises from the horizon (ie the line), thus it's daybreak.

The third example is  nán 男 male or man.
The upper part of this character is “tián 田 farm field ” and the lower part is “lì 力 strength,”  You can easily understand the meaning of this character if you consider that people working in the field with strength are mostly men.


NihaoHello is based in Tallinn Estonia with aims to cater to millennials and Europeans' growing interest to learn Mandarin Chinese. We specialize in tutoring English speakers to speak essential but confident Mandarin Chinese which learners can put to use as soon as he/she arrives to a Mandarin speaking region.