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Chinese Character Bites – #48 – 后

Chinese Character Bites 48 - 后

Our character for today is 后

Simplified Chinese character: 后
Traditional Chinese character: 後


This character is pronounced hòu in the 4th tone.

What it means:

后 is really two characters in one. One of its meanings is ’empress’, as in 皇后 (empress).

It can also be the simplified version of the character 後, which means ‘back’ ‘behind’ or ‘after’, as in 以后 (after).

In simplified Chinese characters, the two characters have been merged into one. In traditional Chinese characters they are separate.

Let’s break it down:

后 is supposedly from a picture of a woman giving birth (I know, I couldn’t believe it either!) The 口 in the modern character represents the head of the baby.

The traditional character 後 is made up of  彳 (footstep), 幺 (threads) and 夂 (foot).