Chinese character -- Composite Ideograms hui4 yi4 zi4 会意字

The third way of forming Chinese characters involves putting two or more pictographs together to get a new meaning.


They are composites. Not only in terms of how they are structured but also in what they mean. In this way, a large number of Chinese characters can be formed.

There are two kinds of composites.

The first kind is formed by different chinese characters. For instance, rest, xiu1 休 , is a man (left) resting against a tree (right).

(From this original meaning, xiu1 was extended to mean “stop” as in argue without stopping zheng1 lun4 bu4 xiu1 争论不休 .

And “don’t” as in don’t think xiu1 xiang3 休想 .)

Other kinds of composites formed with different Chinese characters are an1 安 (safe – a woman under a roof representing a house), chen2 尘 (dirt – small above earth below) and jian1尖 (sharp – small at the top and big at the bottom)

The second is formed by the same characters.

For example, Forest, sen1 consists of three trees. This means a thick forest.

(In the forest, one feels cloudy, gloomy and solemn,so sen1 also means “gloomy” and “stern”.

You have yin1 sen1 “spooky” for example.)

Oracle Bone Script (left), Small Seal Script (right)

Other composites formed with the same Chinese characters are cong2 从 , bei3 北 and jing1 晶 .

Composite ideographs are an ingenious way of forming Chinese characters.

They show the creativity and wisdom of the ancient Chinese. But their numbers are still limited. So, what can be done?

Next: the fourth way of forming Chinese characters