|simp. and trad.
|alt. forms||胡蝶 obsolete
From Middle Chinese *ɦo dep (first syllable unstressed), from Old Chinese *ɡa-lep, derived from a proto-form of *kʰleːp ~ *ɦleːp, a prefixed form of the root *lep (“butterfly”), which was also the source of
There are different theories regarding the original meaning of the root *lep:
- Proto-Sino-Tibetan *ljap (“thin; flat; flat object”), represented by the phonetic element 枼 () in Chinese. Related to *leb葉 (, “leaf”), *hljeb, *leb牒 (, “official document < plank”), *l'eːbTibetan ལེབ་ལེབ (leb leb, “flat; level”), ལེབ་མོ (leb mo, “flat”) and Burmese လှပ် (hlap, “thin”). See 枼 for more.
- Proto-Sino-Tibetan *s-ljap (“lightning; flash; glitter”) (Matisoff, 2003), whence also 燁 (, “gleaming”), *ɢʷab, *ɢʷɯb熠 (, “flashing”) and *ɢrub, *lubBurmese လျှပ် (hlyap, “(of light) to strike; to shine; lightning”). Compare Malay kerlap (“to flash; to glisten, as the wings of flying butterflies”).
Alternatively, Sun (1999) proposes that 蝴蝶 is a fission reduplication of two cognate bases, the former being more likely:
- 挾 (, “to press from both sides; to carry something under one's arms”), alluding to the flapping motion of the butterfly's wings, or *ɡeːb
- 夾 (, “pincers”), from the way the butterfly holds its wings erect when not flying. *kreːb
- Cantonese (Jyutping): wu4 dip6-2, wu4 dip6
- Gan (Wiktionary): fu4 tiet
- Hakka (Meixian, Guangdong): fu2 tiab6
- Jin (Wiktionary): hu1 dieh5
- Min Dong (BUC): hù-diĕk
- Min Nan (POJ): ô͘-tia̍p / hô͘-tia̍p
- Wu (Wiktionary): hhu diq (T3)
- Xiang (Wiktionary): fu2 tie6
- Min Dong
- Min Nan
- (Hokkien: Xiamen, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Yilan, Hsinchu)
- (Hokkien: variant in Taiwan)
|Kanji in this term|