#20 – Compound Words in Chinese

Compound Words in Chinese

Chinese has been described as a language of Compound Words. An idea is often expressed in two or more Chinese characters. Multiple characters representing a single concept are called compound or compound words. The vast majority of compounds consist of two characters.

For example:

1. believe = 相 xianḡ信xiǹ

means each other or mutually
means trust

2. disfigure = 损 suň 毁huǐ

means harm, damage, lessen
means destroy

3. degrade = 贬 biaň黜 chù

means reduce, condemn
means remove, dismiss

4. advertisement = 广guanǧ告gaò

广 means vast, extensive, spread
means inform, announce

5. famous = 有 yoǔ 名 minǵ 的

means have, possess
means name, celebrity
is a particle-word which follows a noun, pronoun, adjective, verb or phrase to show that it is an attribute of that noun, pronoun, adjective, verb or phrase.

6. American = 美 meǐ 国guó 的 de

means beautiful
means countty
means belonging to America or American

7. basketball = 篮lań 球 qiú

means basket. Note the radical 竹 on top of 篮 which means bamboo. In ancient China, baskets were made of bamboo.
means ball

8. killing = 杀 shā 死sǐ

means slaughter, fight, weaken or curtail
means death

9. defeating = 打 dǎ 败baì

means beat, battle, fight, attack
means loss, fail, spoil, decay

10. flying women = 飞feī 天tian̄

means flying
means sky, heaven
The two words together 飞天 represent flying goddesses skilled in dance and athletics painted on the ancient murals of Dunhuang.

11. government = 政zheng̀ 府fǔ

means political, administrative
means office, official residence

12. massive = 巨jù 大dà 的

means huge, tremendous
means big
is an attribute of the adjective 巨大

13. public = 公gonḡ众zhong̀

means official, public, state-owned.
means many, numerous, multitude

14. including = 包baōō 括 kuò

means wrap, surround
means draw together, contract

15. Yao Ming = Yaó 姚 Minǵ 明

Name of famous NBA basketball player
is a Chinese surname
means bright, brilliant

16. superstar = 大 dà 明minǵ 星xinḡ

means big
means bright, brilliant
means star