Two different theories:
- Pictogram (象形) of a snake (therefore, it should be similar to 巴). This theory is found in the Shuowen Jiezi;
- Pictogram (象形) of a fetus (it can be seen in 包, 胞. In 包, the radical should represent the placenta. 胞 today means "cell").
The character is similar to 已, which cannot be found in the Shuowen Jiezi.
巳 (OC s-ləʔ) displaced 子 (OC tsəʔ), the original sixth earthly branch which denoted the moon's "coming forth" stage (i.e. early waning-gibbous phase) "due to phonological closeness (combined with the semantic opacity of the Branch terms at later eras)" (Smith, 2011).
Association with the snake was possibly arbitrary, analogous to how 辰, the fifth earthly branch, was arbitrarily associated with the dragon (Ferlus, 2013).
- sixth of twelve earthly branches (十二支)
- snake (蛇) of Chinese zodiac
- (earthly branches) 地支; 子, 丑, 寅, 卯, 辰, 巳, 午, 未, 申, 酉, 戌, 亥
|For pronunciation and definitions of 巳 – see 已 (“to stop; to finish; already; have done something”).|
(This character, 巳, is a variant form of 已.)
巳 • (sa) (hangeul 사, revised sa, McCune–Reischauer sa, Yale sa)
- the hours from 9 to 11
- 6th terrestrial branch
巳: Hán Nôm readings: tị
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