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Character
Unicode name CJK UNIFIED IDEOGRAPH-5929
Code point U+5929
Entity number 天
Unicode block CJK Unified Ideographs
[U+5928] [U+592A]
See also: , , , , and

Translingual[edit]

Stroke order
天-order.gif
Stroke order
天-bw.png

Etymology[edit]

天-oracle.svg 天-bronze.svg 天-bigseal.svg 天-seal.svg
Oracle bone script Bronze inscriptions Large seal script Small seal script

A top line representing the level above a man with outstretched arms (). Ancient representation of the character show a man with a large head, an anthropomorphic representation of heaven.

Original meaning of the word is "sky". Such concept is difficult to depict with a pictogram, hence the current form. Influenced by the glyph, the character was frequently glossed in Old Chinese documents with (“crown of the head”), and such had led to incorrect hypotheses which regarded as a derivation of or , "top (of the head/hill)".

Graphical opposite of .

Han character[edit]

(radical 37 +1, 4 strokes, cangjie input 一大 (MK), four-corner 10430, composition)

Derived characters[edit]

Descendants[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • KangXi: page 248, character 4
  • Dai Kanwa Jiten: character 5833
  • Dae Jaweon: page 500, character 2
  • Hanyu Da Zidian: volume 1, page 522, character 1
  • Unihan data for U+5929

Etymology[edit]

This character was previously reconstructed to have a *tʰ-initial in Old Chinese, but this hypothesis has been largely discounted in recent reconstructions, in light of evidence from early Chinese accounts of dialectal pronunciations, transcription of other languages, as well as cognate/derived characters within Chinese, which has all pointed to a voiceless resonant initial *- in Old Chinese. The book Shiming showed that, by c. 200 CE, this initial had already produced dialectal variation in the pronunciation: People in central-western China pronounced it with the back of the tongue, like [*xˤenʔ], while people in eastern China pronounced it with the tip of the tongue, like [*tʰˤanʔ]. An old northwestern dialect variant survives as (God of the Zoroastrians) [xen], and the word 天竺 (“India”) was used to transcribe Old Persian *Hind-uka ("India").

Further etymology is unknown. While it was reconstructed with a /*tʰ-/ initial, it was frequently compared with tengri, the name for God in early Turkic and Mongolic peoples' languages. This now appears unlikely. The only certain external cognate is the Central Bai (a language closely related to Chinese) word heinl (sky, heaven) [xẽ⁵⁵]. 

Pronunciation[edit]


Middle Chinese pronunciation (, reconstructed)
Character (天), Pronunciation 1/1

Initial: 透 (6)
Final: 先
Division: IV

Openness: Open
Tone: Level (Ø)

Fanqie: 他前切
Zhengzhang
Shangfang
Bernard
Karlgren
Li
Rong
Pan
Wuyun
Edwin
Pulleyblank
Wang
Li
Shao
Rongfen
/tʰen/ /tʰien/ /tʰen/ /tʰen/ /tʰɛn/ /tʰien/ /tʰɛn/
Old Chinese pronunciation (, reconstructed)
Baxter-Sagart system 1.1 (2014)
Character Modern Beijing
(Pinyin)
Middle Chinese Old Chinese English
tiān ‹ then › /*l̥ ˤi[n]/ heaven
xiān ‹ xen › /*l̥ ˤi[n] (W dialect: l̥ ˤ- > Hàn-time *xˤ- > MC x-)/ heaven

Notes for Old Chinese notations in the Baxter-Sagart system:

  • Parentheses "()" indicate uncertain presence;
  • Square brackets "[]" indicate uncertain identity, e.g. *[t] as coda may in fact be *-t or *-p;
  • Angle brackets "<>" indicate infix;
  • Hyphen "-" indicates morpheme boundary;
  • Period "." indicates syllable boundary.
Zhengzhang system (2003)
Character No. Phonetic
component
Rime
group
Rime
subdivision
Corresponding
MC rime
Old Chinese Notes
12387 1 /*qʰl'iːn/
Sky.

Definitions[edit]

  1. sky
    [MSC, trad. and simp.]
    Tiān hēi le. [Pinyin]
    It got dark (in the evening).
  2. heaven
  3. God
    [MSC, trad. and simp.]
    Wǒ de tiān a! [Pinyin]
    Oh my God!
    [MSC, trad. and simp.]
    Tiān zhù zì zhù zhě. [Pinyin]
    God (heaven) only helps those who help themselves.
  4. top, overhead
  5. weather
    如果我們散步 [MSC, trad.]
    如果我们散步 [MSC, simp.]
    Rúguǒ tiān qíng, wǒmen jiù qù sànbù. [Pinyin]
    If the weather clears, we'll go for a walk.
  6. day (24 hours)
  7. day (as opposed to night)
  8. season
    •   ―  chūntiān, xiàtiān, qiūtiān, dōngtiān  ―  spring, summer, autumn, winter
  9. nature
  10. natural, innate

Synonyms[edit]

  • (“day (to express date)”)

Compounds[edit]


Japanese[edit]

Kanji[edit]

(grade 1 “Kyōiku” kanji)

  1. heavens, sky

Readings[edit]

Compounds[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Kanji in this term
あま
Grade: 1
kun'yomi

From Old Japanese. Usually appears as a bound form only appearing in compounds.[1][2] Compare the formation of (ma, bound form in compounds) and (me, standalone form), (ta, bound form in compounds) and (te, standalone form).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

(hiragana あま, romaji ama)

  1. (archaic) the sky, the heavens
  2. the area above a kitchen stove:
    1. where the smoke collects in an old kitchen using a wood-burning stove
    2. a shelf or shelves above the stove
  3. (archaic) heaven
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

Kanji in this term
あめ
Grade: 1
kun'yomi

From Old Japanese ama (see above).[1] Likely derived by fusion of ama + (i, emphatic nominative particle), similar to the derivation of other words such as (kami, kamu + i), (me, ma + i), etc.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

(hiragana あめ, romaji ame)

  1. (archaic) the sky, the heavens
  2. (archaic) heaven
  3. (archaic) the roof of a palace
Idioms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 3[edit]

Kanji in this term
てん
Grade: 1
on'yomi

From Middle Chinese (/tʰen/, sky; heavens). Compare modern Mandarin reading tiān.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

(hiragana てん, romaji ten)

  1. the sky, the heavens
  2. heaven
  3. (metaphorically) the gods, providence, fate
Idioms[edit]
Derived terms[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, ISBN 4-385-13905-9

Korean[edit]

Hanja[edit]

(cheon)
Eumhun:

  • Sound (hangeul):  (revised: cheon, McCune-Reischauer: ch'ŏn)
  1. (하늘 , haneul cheon) sky; heaven; Godhead; tao; etc.

Synonyms[edit]

Antonyms[edit]

Compounds[edit]


Vietnamese[edit]

Han character[edit]

(thiên, yêu, quách)

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