Tao Te Ching Chapter 43 Etymology

# Chinese Translation to English  Small Seal Scripts Etymology
1 天下之至柔 The softest things of the world    
1.1 Days; sky; heavens; heavenly; celestial A top line representing the level above a man with outstretched arms (大 (dà)). Ancient representations of the character depicted a man with a large head, an anthropomorphic representation of heaven.
 1.2
under.
下 in its shell and bone form is an ideogram that shows the concept of down by showing one line below another (contrast 上). The shell and bone form evolved into 下, the character used today.
1.3
of the .
Ideogrammic compound: 止 (“foot”) + 一 (the beginning place) – meaning “to go”.
1.4
To; to reach; to arrive
extreme; most
composition ⿱𠫔土
𠫔
forearm
Soil.
1.5
Soft.
phonetic 矛 + semantic 木 (tree) – wood soft enough that it can easily be cut.
Spear.
tree
         
2
馳騁天下之至堅
Override the hardest things of the world
   
2.1
to speed; to gallop
composition ⿰馬也
Horse.
Also.
2.2
to hasten; to run; to open up; to gallop
composition ⿰馬甹
Horse.
chivalrous knight
2.3
 
See 1.1
2.4
 
See 1.2
2.5
 
See 1.3
2.6
 
See 1.4
2.7
strong
phonetic 臤 + semantic 土
firm and solid, rigid, stable
soil
3
無有
That which has no substance
   
 3.1
No.
A man with something long held in both hands. Dancing. This character is borrowed for “have no”, and the character 舞 is used for the original sense.
 3.2
Yes.
phonetic 又 (“hand”) + semantic ⺼ (“meat”) – a hand holding meat, hence “in possession of”. The hand shape has been significantly abstracted; compare 右.
Alternatively, the graph was perhaps originally intended for the word 醢 (“minced pickled meat”), which also has the 又 element as phonetic.
4
入於無間
Enters into that which has no openings
   
4.1
Into.
an arrowhead indicating "to enter".
4.2
In; (indicates time or place) in; at; on
From an ancient variant form of 烏. Not related to 方 or 㫃.
4.3
 
See 3.1
4.4
room.
門 (“door”) + 日 (“sun”). Originally 閒, moonlight (月) peeking through a door (門) – interstice; space.
5
吾是以知無為之有益
From this I know the benefits of unattached actions
   
5.1
My.
(literary or dialectal) I
(literary or dialectal) my
phonetic 五 + semantic 口 (“mouth”).
5.2
Is.
Originally a phono-semantic compound: semantic 早 + phonetic 止, but the original meaning is unclear. It has been suggested that 早 looks like a spoon, so 是 may have been the original character for 匙. As early as in late bronze inscriptions, the lower part of 早 split off and combined with 止 to give 昰, which carried over to the small seal script, and Shuowen considers this a compound of 日 (“sun”) + 正 (“upright; right”) (i.e. as the upright sun).
5.3
To.
a preposition that expresses a boundary in spacetime or bearing
a person (人) carrying something. It is often simplified to 㠯 in pre-Qin ancient scripts.
5.4
Know.
 
phonetic 矢 (“arrow”) + semantic 口
arrow
mouth
5.5
 
See 3.1
 5.6
For.
Simplified from 爲.
In the oracle bone script, it is an ideogrammic compound: 又 (hand) + 象 (elephant) — a hand holding an elephant. The 又 later became 爪 (hand; claw).
Shuowen Jiezi interprets the character as a representation of the female macaque.
5.7
 
See 1.3
5.8
 
See 3.2
 5.9
beneficial
 
水 (water) + 皿 (vessel). Original form of 溢 (to overflow).
 5.9.1
Profit
benefit; advantage
禾 (“grain”) + 刀 (“knife”) – to reap grain (禾) with a knife (刀).
         
6
不言之教
The teaching without words
   
6.1
No.
The character 不 originated as a pictograph of the calyx of a flower. It was then composed into a phono-semantic character with the pictograph for mouth (口), to form 否, representing “no” (negation). This composed meaning then spread back to the original character 不, making it a synonym of 否. A new character of 柎 was eventually created to represent the original meaning of calyx.
Following Shuowen’s interpretation, Karlgren and Wieger interpret it as a bird flying toward the sky (一). The sky being the limit for the bird, thus the idea of negation.
6.2
words.
Ideogram: 言 was created by adding a mark to 舌 to indicate movement of the tongue.[1] This indicates speech where 舌 is a mouth (口) with a tongue sticking out.
Shuowen erroneously analyzes the glyph as a phono-semantic compound: phonetic 䇂 + semantic 口 (mouth).
6.3
 
See 1.3
6.4
Teach.
phonetic 爻 (divination) + semantic 子 (child) + semantic 攵 (teaching cane) – teaching a child counting or divination.
         
7
無為之益
The benefits of actions without attachment
   
7.1
 
See 3.1
7.2
 
See 5.6
7.3
 
See 1.3
7.4
 
See 5.9.1
8
天下希及之
Are rarely matched in the world
   
8.1
 
See 1.1
8.2
 
See 1.2
8.3
Hope
rare; hope, expect, strive for
爻 + 巾
the solid and broken lines of the eight trigrams
Towel.
8.4
And.
人 (person) + 又 (hand) – a hand grabbing a person.
8.5
 
See 1.3