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This Proto-Sino-Tibetan entry contains reconstructed words and roots. As such, the term(s) in this entry are not directly attested, but are hypothesized to have existed based on comparative evidence.



  • Proto-Sino-Tibetan: *njuɣ (Coblin, 1986)
    • Proto-Tibeto-Burman: *s-nəw (Matisoff, STEDT), *nəw, *nuw (Weidert, 1987), *nuw (Benedict, 1972; Michailovsky, 1991), *nuw(*C) (Coblin, 1986)

According to Schuessler (2007), it may be an area word. Compare for instance Mundari नुनु (nunu, breast), Proto-Vietic *ɲuːʔ (to drink) and also Proto-Austronesian *nunuh (female breast), whence Tsou nunu and Big Nambas nunu (Handel, 2008; Blust, ACD).

Chinese (OC *njoʔ, “breast, nipple”) could alternatively be the endoactive derivative of (OC *njo, “soft”), meaning literally “the one which is soft”.



  1. breast, nipple
  2. milk


  • Old Chinese: /*noʔ/ (B-S), /*njoʔ/ (ZS) ("breast; to give birth; milk; to suckle")
    • Middle Chinese: (ȵɨoX)

         Japanese:   (にゅう, ​nyū)
            Korean:   (, yu)
            Vietnamese:  nhũ

      • Modern Mandarin
        • Beijing: (, breast, milk), /ʐu²¹⁴/)
  • Himalayish
  • Kuki-Chin
    • Central Chin
      • Lushai [Mizo]: hnute (breast, milk), nu (mother, married woman)
  • Tangut-Qiang
    • Northern Tangut
      • Tangut: 𗨔 (new, /*nɛw⁵⁵/, breast)
    • rGyalrongic
  • Lolo-Burmese-Naxi
    • Lolo-Burmese
      • Burmish
        • Written Burmese: နို့ (nui., breast, nipple; milk)