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Character etymology for 正 (zhèng,straight,upright,correct,exact)

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

Tags: , zhèng, straight, correct, etymology

On our way to the character I meant to discuss, we first have to mention this one since it is a compound of the next character.

By adding a single stroke (一 yī one ) to  (zhǐ, halt,stop) we get (zhèng,straight,upright,correct,exact)


Traditional form: 
Pinyin: zhèng

Meaning: straight,upright,correct,exact


Frequency: 117

Strokes: 5


Decomposition: 一 yī one + 止 zhǐ to stop

Radical part:

Alternative forms of radical


Radical meaning: stop

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






We have discussed the 止 (zhǐ, to stop) part in post: http://chinesepod.com/community/conversations/post/3414

BY adding 一 (yīn one) we get 正. It is an ideograph of a foot walking in a straight line. By going straight you go the correct way. Some historians also suggest that it is the foot walking up to an stop (一 yī ) signifying arrival at the correct location.

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


Example words: 

正常 zhèng cháng regular / normal / ordinary 

正式 zhèng shì formal / official 

正面 zhèng miàn front / positive / direct / open 

正规 zhèng guī regular / according to standards 

纯正 chún zhèng genuine 

正对 zhèng duì directly facing 

不公正 bù gōng zhèng injustice 

非正式 fēi zhèng shì unofficial 

假正经 jiǎ zhèng jīng hypocrite 




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