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Stroke order
3 strokes
Stroke order

Han character

? (radical 39, ?+0, 3 strokes, cangjie input (ND), four-corner 17407, composition ???)

  1. Kangxi radical #39, ?.

Derived characters


  • KangXi: page 277, character 1
  • Dai Kanwa Jiten: character 6930
  • Dae Jaweon: page 543, character 15
  • Hanyu Da Zidian (first edition): volume 2, page 1006, character 6
  • Unihan data for U+5B50

Further reading


simp. and trad.

Glyph origin

Historical forms of the character ?
Shang Western Zhou Warring States Shuowen Jiezi (compiled in Han) Liushutong (compiled in Ming)
Oracle bone script Bronze inscriptions Chu Slip and silk script Small seal script Transcribed ancient scripts
?-oracle.svg ?-bronze.svg ?-silk.svg ?-seal.svg ?-bigseal.svg

Pictogram () - an image of a baby, with a large head and spread arms. The legs are wrapped in a blanket. Compare with ?, where the arms are wrapped.

The big seal script form is much more elaborate, showing a baby with hair on a head (?) and arms on the two sides of the body, sitting on a stool (?).


From Proto-Sino-Tibetan *tsa ~ za ("child, offspring, relatives; to come forth (as child at birth); to love; loving").

Cognate with ? (OC *zl?s, "character; letter"), ? (OC *z?, "loving; kind"), ? (OC *?s?, "to grow, to breed, to propagate, to bring about, to increase"), ? (OC *?s?, *z?s, "to breed, to propagate").

Pronunciation 1



  1. +child; offspring
  2. ?son
    ? / ?  -  dúsh?ngz?  -  only son
  3. +descendant; posterity
  4. (Christianity) the Son
  5. ?person
    ??  -  n?z?  -  female; woman
  6. +master; teacher
  7. +A respectful suffix for teachers, usually attached to their surnames.
    ??  -  K?ngz?  -  Master Kong (Confucius)
    ??  -  L?oz?  -  Laocius
  8. +(polite) you
  9. Alternative form of ? (z?, "seed"); also its second-round simplified form.
    ?  -  kuíhu?z?  -  sunflower seed
  10. ?egg
    ?? / ??  -  z?  -  caviar
  11. young; tender; small
  12. Prefix attached to nouns, denoting "a part of", "belonging to" or "individual". sub-
    ? / ?  -  z?mùlù  -  subdirectory
  13. (astrology) First earthly branch: rat in the Chinese zodiac, 11th solar month, midnight (11:00 pm to 1:00 am)
  14. Viscount, fourth of five ranks of Chinese aristocracy under the Zhou dynasty.
  15. (physics, biology) -on
  16. A surname​.
  17. (Min Nan) grain-like object; particle; granule
  18. (Min Nan, music) rhythm
  19. (Min Nan) Classifier for small, round objects: granule, grain, particle, piece
Coordinate terms
  • (earthly branches) ; ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?


Pronunciation 2



  1. Suffix for small objects or general diminutive suffix.
    • ??  -  píngzi  -  bottle


Pronunciation 3


? (Hokkien)

  1. small, round object
  2. (Xiamen, Quanzhou) Classifier for small objects.
  3. (Zhangzhou, Taiwan) Classifier for bananas.


Sino-Xenic (?):
  • -> Japanese:?(?) (shi); ?(?) (su)
  • -> Korean:? (?, ja)
  • -> Vietnamese: t? (?)


  • -> Vietnamese: ("a little bit")




(grade 1 "Ky?iku" kanji)

  1. child
  2. honorific for an adult man
  3. honorific for a learned man, master
  4. man in general
  5. fourth rank of nobility in Meiji-postwar Japan, viscount
  6. egg, fruit, seed
  7. small object
  8. interest
  9. diminutive suffix
  10. Rat (earthly branch)


  • Go-on: ? (shi, J?y?)
  • Kan-on: ? (shi, J?y?)
  • T?-on: ? (su, J?y?)
  • S?-on: ? (tsu)
  • Kan'y?-on: ? (zu)
  • Kun: ? (ko, ?, J?y?); ? (ne, ?); ? (mi, ?)
  • Nanori: (konoe); (sane); (shige); (shigeru); (taka); (tada); (tane); (chika); (tsugu); (toshi); (miru); (yasu)


Usage notes

? is also an obsolete variant form of the katakana ? (ne).

Etymology 1

Kanji in this term
Grade: 1

?ko1? -> */k?o/ -> /ko/

From Old Japanese,[1] attested in the Kojiki (712 C.E.) and the Man'y?sh? (c. 759 C.E.), two of the oldest examples of written Japanese.

Cognate with ? (ko, "silkworm") and possibly ? (ko, "little", diminutive prefix).


Alternative forms


?(?) o (ko (counter ?)

  1. a child
    • 2007 October 20, Izawa, Hiroshi; Yamada, Kotaro, "?()39?(?)?()??()?() [Chapter 39: Dragon's Roar]", in ? ? [Fire Emblem: Sword of Champions], volume 5 (fiction), Jump Remix edition, Tokyo: Shueisha, ->ISBN, page 113:
      Koko made tatakatte kita no ni... manmato f?in sarechimatte te mo ashi mo denai nan te... Nani ga... Harutom?to no ko da... Nani ga ry? no ko da!!
      I've fought my way to this point... only to end up being sealed, unable to move at all... So what... if I'm Hartmut's son... So what if I'm a dragon child!?
    • 2007 October 20, Izawa, Hiroshi; Yamada, Kotaro, "?()?()?(?)?()? [Final Chapter: Epilog]", in ? ? [Fire Emblem: Sword of Champions], volume 5 (fiction), Jump Remix edition, Tokyo: Shueisha, ->ISBN, page 355:
      Nochi ni Raguna no Serudia to musubare hachinin no ko o m?keta
      He later had 8 children with Celdia of Ragna
    ??? (otoko no ko): male child -> boy
    ? (ii ko): good boy; good girl
  2. (figuratively) a girl, especially a dear or desired one (compare use of English baby, babe)
    • c. 759, Man'y?sh? (book 7, poem 1266), text here
      (?)?(?)()?(?)?()?(?)?(?)()?()?()()?(?)()()?()() [Man'y?gana]
      (?)?()??(?)??(?)??()?(?)??(?)??(?) [Modern spelling]
      ?bune o arumi ni kogi de ya fune take waga mishi kora ga mami wa shirushi mo
      Rowing the big boat into the rough seas, putting our backs into it, the looks of those girls I saw are clear [in my mind]
  3. a smaller or younger version of a bigger object
    ??? (ki no ko): tree + child/little one -> ? (kinoko, "mushroom")
    ??? (take no ko): bamboo + child/little one -> ? (takenoko, "bamboo shoot")
Derived terms


?(?) o (ko-

  1. an object which has a subservient or derivative role relative to another object
    ? (kogaisha): derivative + company -> a subsidiary
    ?? (koinu): derivative + dog -> a puppy
Derived terms


?(?) o (-ko

  1. suffix used in female given names, such as (​Tomoko), (​Eiko), (​Hideko), (​Minako)
  2. (rare) suffix used in male given names
  3. an object having a particular state or property (sometimes diminutive)
    ?? (furiko): an object that swings -> a pendulum
  4. roe (only when preceded by a fish name, or fish-related prefix)
    ? (mentaiko, "pollock roe")
    ?? (tobiko, "flying fish roe")
Derived terms

Proper noun

?(?) o (Ko

  1. a surname

Etymology 2

Kanji in this term
Grade: 1
Kanji in this term
Grade: 1

From Middle Chinese ? (MC t?s?X), also used in the Man'y?sh? (c. 759 C.E.) as (shakuon) kana for ?si?. Compare modern Mandarin ? (z?).

The goon reading of shi is likely the original borrowing:

/t?s?/ -> /s?/ -> *// -> /?i/

The t?on reading su appears later, and only shows up in certain set terms borrowed from Chinese, where it seems to serve as a kind of nominalizing suffix:

/t?s?/ -> /s?/ -> */s?/ -> /su/



?(?) or ?(?) o (shi or su

  1. a child
  2. Short for (shishaku): the fourth rank of nobility in Meiji-postwar Japan, equivalent to a viscount
  3. an honorific for a learned man, such as teacher or master
  4. a philosophy branch of Chinese literature, either derived from or outside of the Hundred Schools of Thought
  5. an object which has a subservient or derivative role relative to another object
  6. an object having a particular state or property (sometimes diminutive)
    ? (ch?seishi): neutral + small thing -> a neutron
    ?? (isu): chair + small thing -> a chair
Usage notes
  • This affix is never used in isolation. It is only used in on'yomi compounds.
  • In some kanji compounds, ? is part of the word but does not carry much meaning in Japanese, as in (isu, "chair"). Possibly because of this erosion of meaning, spelling out ? in some compounds has become optional, as in vs. ? (yashi, "a palm tree"), or vs. ? (yuzu, "an aromatic citron").
  • In some compounds, the shi or su reading becomes voiced as ji or zu due to rendaku.
Derived terms


?(?) o (shi

  1. (archaic) second-person pronoun: you (of one's equals)

Proper noun

?(?) o (Shi

  1. (Chinese astrology) Rat, the first of the twelve Earthly Branches

Etymology 3

Japanese Wikipedia has an article on:
Wikipedia ja
English Wikipedia has an article on:
Kanji in this term
Grade: 1

Contracted from ? (nezumi, "mouse, rat").


Proper noun

?(?) o (Ne

  1. (Chinese astrology) Rat, the first of the twelve Earthly Branches:
    1. north
      Synonym: ? (kita)
    2. the hours between 11:00 P.M./midnight and 1:00/2:00 A.M.
    3. a day or year assigned to the Rat
    4. the eleventh month of the lunar calendar
  2. a place name
Derived terms


? o (ne)

  1. (dated, until the 19th century) variant katakana syllable ? (ne).

Etymology 4

Kanji in this term
Grade: 1


?(?) o (mi

  1. (archaic, rare) Alternative spelling of ? (mi): a fruit, nut, or seed (of a plant, tree, etc.); ingredients put in a soup; a content, substance


  1. ^ 1988, () (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), T?ky?: Shogakukan
  2. ? 2.02.1 2006, (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), T?ky?: Sanseid?, ->ISBN
  3. ^ 1998, NHK (NHK Japanese Pronunciation Accent Dictionary) (in Japanese), T?ky?: NHK, ->ISBN



From Middle Chinese ? (MC t?s?X). Recorded as Middle Korean  (Yale: ) in Hunmong Jahoe (? / ?), 1527.



Korean Wikisource has texts containing the hanja:


? (eumhun ? (adeul ja))

  1. Hanja form? of ? ("son; man").
  2. Hanja form? of ? ("offspring").



  • ( ) (2007). Digital Hanja Dictionary, ?/?. [1]


Hán t? in this term

Hán T?

?: Hán Vi?t readings: (?(t?c)?()?(thi?t))[1][2], t?[2][3], [3]
?: Nôm readings: [1][2], t?[2][4], [1], tít[2], t?[3]

  1. Hán t? form of ("first earthly branch").
  2. Hán t? form of ("a little bit; small").
  3. Nôm form of t? ("child; son; small thing").
    • 1888, Trng V?nh Ký, Chuy?n i X?a, sheet 40
      Ph? nghi?p, t? n?ng th?a; Quân ân, th?n kh? báo.
      A father's lifework, the child shall succeed; the King's graces, the subjects shall repay.
    • 1873, "Bích Câu K? Ng?", lines 17-18
      Tri?u Lê ng h?i thái hòa, Có Tr?n công t? tên là Tú Uyên.
      In the Lê court's festival of Great Peace, there exists a noble lord named Tran Tu Uyen.


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