speak chinese like a native

Character etymology for 止 (zhǐ, halt,stop)

Posted by mandarinboy September 27, 2008 in the Group General Discussion .

Tags: , zhǐ, halt, stop, etymology

We have before mentioned that most characters are build up from smaller parts, radicals. We are on our way to a more complex and highly frequent character but to be able to do that we first need to start with the parts that the character is build from. Yesterday we started with 日(rì,sun; day) and today we go on with 止 (zhǐ, halt,stop) that is another part in this character.


Traditional form: 
Pinyin: zhǐ

Meaning: halt,stop

Frequency: 565

Strokes: 4



Radical part:

Alternative forms of radical

Radical meaning: stop

Stroke animation: (the strokes are drawn the direction the picture is tipping)




This is a realy interesting character. The meaning today is stop, halt but in many complex characters it is having its original meaning, foot. If we look at the old forms of the character:



We can se the foot with three toes. In the early forms we can trace this back to many other charactes, e.g

出 (chū, to go out, to send out)

The idea of stop and halt we get from the fact that it is a motionless foot. Even thought is hard to se it clearly the character is a representation of a right foot. Picture it as a man laying down and you look at his feets. On the right feet you will then se the bigtoe point out.


Link to nciku usage of the character (examples, sound etc)




Example words: 

禁止 jìn zhǐ to prohibit 
防止 fáng zhǐ to prevent / to guard against / to take precautions 
为止 wéi zhǐ until 
阻止 zǔ zhǐ to prevent / to block 
不止 bù zhǐ incessantly / without end / more than / not limited to 
被禁止 bèi jìn zhǐ forbidden 
止境 zhǐ jìng limit / boundary / end 
止汗剂 zhǐ hàn jì anti-perspirant 
静止 jìng zhǐ still / immobile / stillness

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