- KangXi: page 126, character 28
- Dai Kanwa Jiten: character 1452
- Dae Jaweon: page 277, character 1
- Hanyu Da Zidian (first edition): volume 1, page 242, character 1
- Unihan data for U+516C
|Historical forms of the character 公|
|Shang||Western Zhou||Shuowen Jiezi (compiled in Han)||Liushutong (compiled in Ming)|
|Oracle bone script||Bronze inscriptions||Small seal script||Transcribed ancient scripts|
The traditional interpretation as given by Han Feizi is that 公 is a compound of 八 (= 背 (“to deviate; opposite”)) and 厶 (original form of 私 (“individual; private”)), i.e. the opposite of “private” — “public”. This theory is supported by Sun Yirang and Qiang Kaiyun, despite the somewhat different shape of the bottom component from 厶.
This is disputed in modern times by Gao Hongjin, who thinks that the 八 on top stands for 分 (“to divide; to distribute”) and the bottom round component 口 symbolises a generic object. 公 thus represents “equally dividing resources so that they are communal”.
Another theory put forth by Zhu Fangpu is that 公 is a pictogram (象形), being the original form of 瓮 (, “a wide-mouthed round-bottomed *qloːŋsjar”), and later borrowed for the meanings of “public” and “male of older generation or higher rank”.
- "fair; impartial; public"
- From Sino-Tibetan; cognate with Tibetan གུང (gung), དགུང (dgung, “middle”), considering that "middle" may be semantically associated with "balance" (Schuessler, 2007).
- "male of older generation or higher rank; duke; male (of animals)"
- This word has been connected to 翁 () ( *qloːŋWang, 1982; Unger, 1999; Baxter and Sagart, 2017). Baxter and Sagart (2017) also includes 妐 (, “husband's father”) in this word family. *t-qoŋ
- STEDT provisionally sets up Proto-Sino-Tibetan *kaŋ (“father; grandfather; honorific”), also comparing it to 翁; compare Drung kangkang (“grandpa”), vkang (“(my/our) grandfather”), Burmese ခင် (hkang), as in မိခင် (mi.hkang, “mother”), ဖခင် (hpa.hkang, “father”). Alternatively, STEDT also compares it with Proto-Sino-Tibetan *gaŋ (“penis; male”), whence 雄 (, “male”), but considers it less probable. *ɡʷɯŋ
- Schuessler (2007) suggests a Mon-Khmer origin; compare Khmer ឡូញ (louñ, “title of an unidentified rank or function”) and Old Khmer khloñ (“head, chief”) (whence ខ្លោង (khlaong)). Compare also Thai ลุง (lung), from Proto-Tai *luŋᴬ (“parent's older brother”), which may also be from Mon-Khmer. Tibetan [script needed] (khong) ~ [script needed] (gong, “final syllable in dignitaries' name”) may be borrowed from Chinese.
- public; communal
- fair; equitable
- to make public; to announce
- international; universal
- (of animals) male
- (honorific) old man or a man of high status
- father-in-law (husband's father)
- 公婆 ― gōngpó ― parents-in-law (husband's parents)
- (Hakka) A noun suffix
- A surname.
- Go-on: く (ku)
- Kan-on: こう (kō, Jōyō)←こう (kou, historical)
- Kun: おおやけ (ōyake, 公, Jōyō)←おほやけ (ofoyake, historical); きみ (kimi, 公)
- (honorific) a European sovereign prince
- (honorific) a duke
- Edinbara Kō Firippu Ōhai
- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
- (familiar) used as suffix to denote familiarity with or disdain for someone or an animal
- 1997 September 1 [Oct 10 1996], Fujiko F. Fujio, “どこかでだれかが の巻 [Anyone, Anywhere]”, in エスパー魔美 [Esper Mami], volume 1 (fiction), 4th edition, Tokyo: Shogakukan, →ISBN, page 245:
- Mami Kō‼ Doko e itta n da. Shiyō ga nai nā‼ Moderu to iu jūyō na shigoto o, kozukai kasegigurai ni shika, kangaete inai n da kara.
- Mami‼ Where the hell’d she go? This is unacceptable‼ She treats serious modeling as nothing but a way to get pocket money.
- Alternative form of
- 국제퇴계학회 대구경북지부 (國際退溪學會 大邱慶北支部) (2007). Digital Hanja Dictionary, 전자사전／電子字典. 
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