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Chinese Character Bites – #38 – 自

Chinese Character Bites 38 - 自

Our character for today is 自

Simplified Chinese character: 自
Traditional Chinese character: 自
(The simplified character and the traditional character are the same)


This character is pronounced zì in the 4th tone.

What it means:

自 has a couple of different meanings.

A lot of the time, it means ‘self’, for example in 自己 (self, oneself)

It can also mean ‘from’, and when it comes as part of 自从 it means ‘since’

You’ll also see it in 自然, which means ‘nature’ or ‘natural’

Not to be confused with:

白 (white), which has just one line in the middle, and 目 (which doesn’t have a stroke at the top).

Let’s break it down:

This character is usually thought to come from a picture of a nose.