Chinese Characters


Main meanings:

①foot; leg.

②sufficient; full; enough.

HSK - 2



character zu

Elements  ----  Pictogram of a foot or leg 足. Phonetic series 足.

A pictogram of a big foot 止 facing upwards; in which 口 was possibly the knee.  From the leg of a person to the leg of an animal > leg of a vessel > content of the vessel > enough, sufficient > full. It is a radical that forms part of characters related to feet and their functions.

Main Words:

①foot; leg.

足球 zúqiú football; soccer.
失足 shīzú lose one's footing; slip.

②sufficient; full; enough.

满足 mǎnzú be satisfied/contented; satisfy.
不足 bùzú not be enough; not worth; cannot; should not.
足够 zúgòu sufficiently; enough.
充足 chōngzú adequate; sufficient.

Discussion and sources

Most of the scholars consider that this is a pictographic character 足. Though his present meaning is usually foot, Oracle Bone pictograms show that if referred also to the lower part of the leg. Both Gao Jingcheng and Cheng Menghui consider that the extended meaning from foot to enough, full, etc, was through the naming of vessels’ legs.

Cheng Menghui (程孟辉). Dictionary of Old Chinese (古代汉语字典). Commercial Press. Beijing, 2011.

Gao Jingcheng (高景成). Dictionary of the Origin of the most Common Characters. (常用字字源字典). Language Publishers. Beijing. 2013.

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