half; semi-; incomplete; (after a number) and a half
|to hang a person||
child; son; (noun suff.); small thing; midnight; 11 p.m.-1 a.m.; seed; egg; 1st earthly branch
|Literally: “one who is half a diao”.|
In ancient China, a diao (吊) was a thousand copper coins strung together. Half a diao (半吊) referred to five hundred coins, and became to be used metaphorically for someone who is deficient in skills or mental capacity. Compare 二百五 (èrbǎiwǔ).