Etymology of 載

載 title

Many Chinese characters are difficult for learners to remember, especially those with many strokes. However, if you learn them properly, i.e., you learn their origins, memorization becomes much simpler.

Today we are looking at 載.

載(zǎi/zài) means “to load” or “to carry”, among several other meanings. It is a 形聲, below are its components. 載

So we can see it is made up of 車(car), its semantic value, and “zāi”(to cut), its phonetic value. We can break “zāi” down even further to see where its origin.


“zāi” is made up of 才(cái) for the phonetic component, and 戈(gē, halberd/spear) for the semantic component.

As we can see 才 has become 十 through the evolution of the characters and scripts. The center character at the top is an authentic scan of 載 from the 說文解字; you can see the top has a 才 and not a 十.

Knowing that at its origin it was a 才 will help you, however, to remember the pronunciation of both of these characters.