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Chinese Character Bites – #14 – 来

Our character for today is 来

Simplified Chinese character: 来
Traditional Chinese character: 來

(The simplified version is slightly different. The simplified character has 7 strokes, whereas the traditional character has 8.)


This character is pronounced lái in the 2nd tone.

What it means:

来 can mean the verb ‘to come’

Or, it can be the result of a verb, for example 到来 (arrive (and come)) or 起来 (get up)

It can also mean ‘future’ in words like 将来 (future) and 未来 (future).

And you’ll see it in some other words like 以来 (since), 本来 (originally), and 从来 (always, all along)

Let’s break it down:

来 was originally a pictographic representation of bearded barley growing up out of the ground. It was once related to the word for barley, but was later borrowed as a ‘loan character’ for the word for ‘to come’, because it once had a similar pronunciation.