Say It Right Series

Character etymology for 高 (gāo, high,tall )

Posted by mandarinboy September 13, 2008 in the Group General Discussion.

Tags: etymology, tall,

As promised we will look in to the character : 高 (gāo, high,tall ) as referenced in the post about 南 (nán, south).


Traditional form:   

Pinyin: gāo

Meaning: high, tall; lofty, elevated

Frequency: 132

Strokes: 10


Radical part: 高

Radical meaning: tall

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




Etymology:  Here the story behind this character is very clear. In the oracle bones that have been found it looks like this:





Today’s characters have been altered very little: 高 The pointy roof have been simplified to the roof part but the rest are still the same. In the picture see the resemblance with a Chinese watchtower:

In old Chinese cities, the watchtower where the tallest buildings and hence tall. In some bronze characters the character where written like:




This indicates the wall around a city with the watchtower  as a tall building and the gate in the foundation of the wall. The 口 part can mean both mouth, entrance and gate.


Example words:

乐高 Lè gāo Lego (toys) 
提高 tí gāo to raise / to increase 
高速 gāo sù high speed 
高中 gāo zhōng high school 
高兴 gāo xìng happy / glad / willing (to do sth) / in a cheerful mood 
高等 gāo děng higher / high level / advanced 
高效 gāo xiào efficient / highly effective 
高清 gāo qīng high definition (photo, audio or television) 
高峰 gāo fēng peak / summit / height 
高于 gāo yú greater than / to exceed 
高质量 gāo zhì liàng high quality 
高高 gāo gāo tall 
高大 gāo dà tall / lofty 
高雅 gāo yǎ dainty / elegance / elegant 
高频 gāo pín high frequency 
高超 gāo chāo excellent / superlative 
高声 gāo shēng aloud / loud / loudly 
高强 gāo qiáng superior 
高烧 gāo shāo fever / high temperature 
高性能 gāo xìng néng high performance 
高傲 gāo ào arrogant 
打高尔夫 dǎ gāo ěr fū to play golf 
高档服装 gāo dàng fú zhuāng haute couture / high fashion clothing







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