- KangXi: page 126, character 28
- Dai Kanwa Jiten: character 1452
- Dae Jaweon: page 277, character 1
- Hanyu Da Zidian: volume 1, page 242, character 1
- Unihan data for U+516C
|simp. and trad.
|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|
|Characters in the same phonetic series (公) (Zhengzhang, 2003)|
|鬆||*sqʰloːŋs, *sqʰluːŋ, *skʰloŋ, *sqʰloŋ|
|凇||*sqʰloːŋs, *sqʰloŋ, *sɢloŋ|
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 kang (“grandfather; great-uncle; master”), 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
- Antonyms: 私 (sī)
- fair; equitable
- to make public; to announce
- international; universal
- (of animals) male
- Antonyms: 母 (mǔ)
- 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)
- Alternative form of
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