Character inclusiveness in Chinese compound words

character inclusiveness

Some two-morpheme (o two-character) compounds have a very interesting feature, character inclusiveness or morpheme inclusiveness. There are two types of character inclusiveness.

The first character includes the second to express a concept that relates to the second.


森林 forest  森 includes 林

站立 stand  站 includes 立

均匀 even  均 includes 匀

骏马 steed  骏 includes 马

咫尺 very close  咫 includes 尺

动力 power  动 includes 力

飓风 hurricane  飓 includes 风

旭日 rising sun  旭 includes 日

魔鬼 demon  魔 includes 鬼

眉目 features, sequence of ideas  眉 includes 目

旧日 old days  旧 includes 日

The second character includes the first

口舌 a quarrel 舌 includes 口 
买卖 business → 卖 includes 买
山峰 a mountain pea 峰 includes 山
刀刃 the edge of a knife 刃 includes 刀
土地 soil 地 includes 土
心意 intention 意 includes 心
水泵 water pump 泵 includes 水
火焰 flame 焰 includes 火
气氛 atmosphere 氛 includes 气
大夫 doctor 夫 includes 大
石碑 stone tablet 石 includes 石
任凭 at one’s discretion 凭 includes 任

What have you found from these examples?

The included characters are always the semantic components of other characters, e.g. 立 is the semantic component of 站,火 is the semantic component of 焰.

Although not all the compound words have this special feature, character inclusiveness, during your characters learning you are encouraged to check if a single-component character can be included by other characters with it as semantic component or if a compound character can include its semantic component to form a compound word.

P.S. a character is not always a word in Chinese.

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