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Chinese Character Bites – #53 – 天

Chinese Character Bites 53 - 天

Our character for today is 天

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

Pronunciation:

This character is pronounced tiān in the 1st tone.

What it means:

天 means sky, heaven or it can also mean day.

You’ll see it in words like 今天 jīntiān (today) 明天 míngtiān (tomorrow) and 昨天 zuótiān (yesterday), as well as the words for seasons, for example 春天 chūntiān (spring).

Where it means sky or heaven, you’ll also find it in 天气 tiānqì (weather) and 天空 tiānkōng (sky) and so on.

Let’s break it down:

This character was originally a pictogram of a person standing with their arms outstretched and their head at the top. The head has now turned into the horizontal stroke at the top, representing the level above the person with the outstretched arms, or ‘heaven’.