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Chinese Character Bites – #12 – 中

Our character for today is 中

In simplified Chinese characters: 中
In traditional Chinese characters: 中
(It’s the same in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters)


This character is usually pronounced zhōng in the 1st tone,

However, in some words it is zhòng, in the 4th tone.

What it means:

中 (zhōng) means ‘centre’ or ‘middle.’

It can also mean China (中国), which means the ‘middle kingdom’, because China is perceived as in the centre of the world in the Chinese historical world view.

中 (zhòng) is much less common, and it means ‘to hit a target’ or ‘attain’

Let’s break it down:

This character originally depicted a flag or staff in the middle of an enclosure. In the modern character, the line dissecting the 口 in the middle represents the idea of ‘middle.