Again, I was seeing the kanji for the word slow, 遅 and for remembering it I was trying to decompose it. This part 𡱝 looks like a kanji but I can't find anywhere its meaning if it's really a kanji. Is it just a piece of kanji with no meaning or is it a kanji? If so, what does it mean?


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    I believe what you are showing is a Han Character, which is from Chinese. In that case, I suggested in my answer what the Japanese composition was. I don't think we discuss Chinese on this Exchange, so I suggest try asking the Chinese Stack Exchange Forum if that actually happens to be the case. Aug 9, 2017 at 21:46
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    I'm letting pass some time may be somebody else knows something else. Otherwise I'll accept your answer
    – Pablo
    Aug 9, 2017 at 21:47

3 Answers 3


The specifics of 遅

Per the Wiktionary entry for 遅, this kanji is the shinjitai or Japanese simplified form of classical 遲, also listed under the Variants heading at the bottom of the Unihan Database entry page. The right-hand portion would thus be 犀 (牛 "ox" under 尾 "tail" = "rhinoceros", but probably only used phonetically in 遲), rather than 𡱝 (羊 "sheep" under 尸 "person sitting or lying, in representation of the dead" = which apparently doesn't have an independent meaning of its own).

General considerations when decomposing characters

Before trying to suss out the individual parts of a kanji character for their meaning, it pays to first find out if the kanji you're looking at is a traditional form or a shinjitai character. If it's a shinjitai kanji, you want to find the kyūjitai or traditional form first, and then figure out the meaning from there.

That said, kanji components were often assembled for phonetic reasons rather than semantics, so looking into meanings of the components won't always produce useful information (for instance, rhinos are actually quite fast when they move, and sheep posing as dead people doesn't have a whole lot to do with slowness either). Your best bet is to get a good kanji etymology dictionary. In lieu of that (which can be hard to find, and somewhat expensive), the community of Chinese editors at Wiktionary has been doing a decent job of describing the origins of the many Chinese characters, so have a go at checking there. (Full disclosure: I've also been an editor over there, but primarily for the Japanese entries.)

Happy hunting!


The 遅 character originated from its kyujitai form: 遲.

It consists of these components:

1) Semantic component 辵 (simplified as 辶, reading: shinnyō) means "walk", "move", "motion".

2) Phonetic component 犀 (reading: sei) means "rhinoceros", consists of phonetic component 尾 (tail) & semantic component 牛 (ox).

According to old character variations noted in "異體字字典", the character 𡱝 in shinjitai form of 遅 is a written variant of 犀 (together with other 22 characters made in middle Chinese era, the complete list available on character variants). In Japanese this is called 異体字 (itaiji, lit. different form characters) & sometimes considered as replacement characters when simplifying a complex kanji (similar way: 證 => 証). As a traditional variant, it actually uses same sound & meaning as 犀 (note that 犀 available in jinmeiyō kanji but not in jōyō kanji).

Here is a proof of 犀 character variants, taken from "中華字海" at the same reference source (𡱝 marked in red box):

enter image description here

PS: In mainland China the simplification form of same character becomes 迟, derived from 尺 which denotes "Chinese foot measurement unit" (so that implies "walking one foot per second" has associated meaning with 'slow').


The picture you are showing is a Han character, which can be considered a 漢字 in some aspects, but it does not have a reading in Japanese.

However, the kanji 遅, that is technically made up from it, is actually made up of three parts in Japanese.

羊, which can also be a kanji meaning "sheep"

尸, which is just a radical and

⻌ , another radical meaning "road", "walk", or "to advance".

In Japanese, radicals are essentially pieces that help make up kanji.

For your pleasure, here's a whole list of radicals and their meanings.

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    Looking at the answers of the previous question, it seems that there are different opinions about what's a kanji and what's a part of one but not a kanji, among Japanese and Chinese people. (there was one answer in Chinese before it was removed)
    – siikamiika
    Aug 9, 2017 at 20:29
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    @Pablo the thing is, in that kanji, 𡱝 doesn't seem to appear, at least to me. Where did you get that from? Aug 9, 2017 at 20:34
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    @Pablo are we seeing the same thing? I see a box everytime you print 𡱝 . Is that right? For clarity, it looks a lot like 口, if anything. Aug 9, 2017 at 20:36
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    Three points of caution: (1) there are kanji for which not all parts are radicals (that is, kanji are not reassembled radicals), though every kanji has a radical: eg 学 and it's traditional form 學. (2) radicals can have meaning and their meaning may contribute to the meaning of the kanji. (3) radicals are there to help classify and organize kanji.
    – A.Ellett
    Aug 9, 2017 at 20:45
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    @naruto This could be a case of 英製和語 like "hentai" or "kaizen" because to me the word "kanji" means specifically the Japanese variants of Chinese characters while a Japanese person will literally refer to Chinese characters with 「漢字」. Anyway, the answer by Eiríkr Útlendi explains that 「𡱝」 is used instead of 「犀」 in the shinjitai form of 「遲」. This could suggest that 「𡱝」 is instead just a shinjitai kanji but then there are characters like this (at least it's not officially shinjitai but no idea where it came from).
    – siikamiika
    Aug 10, 2017 at 3:51

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