荔枝

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Chinese[edit]

phonetic branch; (a measure word)
simp. and trad.
(荔枝)
alt. forms
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荔枝
荔枝

Etymology[edit]

Unknown. First attested as 離支 in the “Rhapsody on the Shanglin Park” (上林賦) by Sima Xiangru of the West Han dynasty. During the time of Emperor Wu of Han, lychee was one of the exotic plants cultivated in the grand imperial Shanglin Park, introduced from China's south.

Traditionally, has been interpreted as equivalent to (“to sever; to partition”), based on an excerpt from Funan-ji (扶南記), a now-lost text cited in other works, such as the Taiping Guangji (太平廣記):

荔枝結實枝條不可摘取刀斧 [Classical Chinese, trad.][▼ expand/hide]
荔枝结实枝条不可摘取刀斧 [Classical Chinese, simp.]
From: Taiping Guangji (Extensive Records of the Taiping Era), 978 CE
Lìzhī wéi míng zhě, yǐ qí jiéshí shí, zhītiáo ruò ér dì láo, bùkě zhāiqǔ, yǐ dāofǔ lí qǔ qí zhī, gù yǐ wéi míng. [Pinyin]
That which bears the name lizhi, when it bears fruits, the small branches are weak but the stem is firm, so it cannot be picked by hand and must be severed with a knife or axe, hence its name.

The Compendium of Materia Medica, citing the “Preface to Lychee Painting” (荔枝圖序) by Bai Juyi, interprets 離支 orthographically:

離支 [Classical Chinese, trad.][▼ expand/hide]
离支 [Classical Chinese, simp.]
From: The Compendium of Materia Medica [Bencao Gangmu], by Li Shizhen, 1578 CE
Bái Jūyì yún: ruò lí běn zhī, yī rì sè biàn, sān rì wèi biàn. Zé lìzhī zhī míng, yòu huò qǔ cǐ yì yě. [Pinyin]
Bai Juyi said, “If it [lychee] was removed from the branch, its colour will change in a day, its taste in three days.” So the name lizhi [lit. “removed from branch”] may be chosen for this meaning.

Recent studies have discounted the above as folk etymologies, proposing instead that it is a disyllabic borrowing from a Tai-Kadai language during the Late Old Chinese period; compare modern Zhuang laehcei, Tai Nüa ᥛᥣᥐᥱᥐᥣᥭᥱ (maak3kaay3), Hlai coeis (Wei, 2000; Ban and Su, 2017). The precise shape of the source word is now obscure, and there are two possibilities that can explain the disyllabicity of the borrowing (Ban and Su, 2017):

  • That the first syllable transcribed a Tai-Kadai class noun (perhaps “fruit”), and the second syllable, (OC *kje), corresponded to the Tai-Kadai name for “lychee”; or
  • That the Tai-Kadai source word for “lychee” was disyllabic and already not easily analysable.

Pronunciation[edit]


Note: liān-chi - often written as 蓮枝.

Rime
Character
Reading # 1/2 1/1
Initial () (37) (23)
Final () (11) (11)
Tone (調) Departing (H) Level (Ø)
Openness (開合) Open Open
Division () III III
Fanqie
Reconstructions
Zhengzhang
Shangfang
/liᴇH/ /t͡ɕiᴇ/
Pan
Wuyun
/liɛH/ /t͡ɕiɛ/
Shao
Rongfen
/ljɛH/ /t͡ɕjɛ/
Edwin
Pulleyblank
/liə̆H/ /ciə̆/
Li
Rong
/lieH/ /t͡ɕie/
Wang
Li
/lǐeH/ /t͡ɕǐe/
Bernard
Karlgren
/lie̯H/ /t͡ɕie̯/
Expected
Mandarin
Reflex
zhī

Noun[edit]

荔枝

  1. lychee (Litchi chinensis)

Synonyms[edit]

Dialectal synonyms of 荔枝 (“lychee”) [map]
Variety Location Words
Classical Chinese 荔枝丹荔
Formal (Written Standard Chinese) 荔枝
Mandarin Beijing 荔枝
Taiwan 荔枝
Harbin 荔枝
Jinan 荔枝
Muping 荔枝
Luoyang 荔枝
Xi'an 荔枝
Xining 荔枝
Xuzhou 荔枝錦荔枝
Lanzhou 荔枝
Wuhan 荔枝
Chengdu 荔枝
Guiyang 荔枝
Liuzhou 荔枝荔枝果
Yangzhou 荔枝
Nanjing 荔枝
Cantonese Guangzhou 荔枝
Hong Kong 荔枝
Shunde 荔枝
Foshan 荔枝
Zhongshan 荔枝
Dongguan 荔枝
Hong Kong (Weitou) 荔枝
Taishan 荔枝
Doumen 荔枝
Kaiping 荔枝
Shaoguan 荔枝
Yunfu 荔枝
Xinyi 荔枝
Lianjiang 荔枝
Nanning 荔枝
Kuala Lumpur 荔枝
Gan Nanchang 荔枝
Pingxiang 荔枝
Hakka Meixian 荔果
Miaoli (N. Sixian) 荔枝
Liudui (S. Sixian) 荔枝荔果
Hsinchu (Hailu) 荔枝
Dongshi (Dabu) 荔枝
Zhuolan (Raoping) 荔枝
Yunlin (Zhao'an) 荔枝
Hong Kong 荔果
Sabah 荔枝
Senai 荔枝
Singkawang 荔枝
Huizhou Jixi 荔枝
Jin Taiyuan 荔枝
Xinzhou 荔枝
Min Bei Jian'ou 荔枝
Min Dong Fuzhou 荔枝
Fuqing 荔枝
Min Nan Xiamen 荔枝
Quanzhou 荔枝
Zhangzhou 荔枝
Taipei 荔枝
Kaohsiung 荔枝
Tainan 荔枝
Taichung 荔枝
Wuqi 荔枝
Hsinchu 荔枝
Taitung 荔枝
Lukang 荔枝
Sanxia 荔枝
Yilan 荔枝
Kinmen 荔枝
Magong 荔枝
Penang 荔枝
Pingnan 荔枝
Chaozhou 荔果
Shantou 荔果
Haifeng 荔果
Johor Bahru 荔枝
Haikou 荔枝
Leizhou 麻籽
Puxian Min Putian 荔枝
Xianyou 荔枝
Pinghua Nanning 荔枝
Wu Shanghai 麻荔子荔枝
Suzhou 荔子
Hangzhou 荔枝
Wenzhou 荔枝
Danyang 荔枝
Jinhua 荔枝
Ningbo 荔枝
Xiang Changsha 荔枝
Quanzhou 荔枝

Derived terms[edit]

Descendants[edit]

Sino-Xenic (荔枝):

Others: