A lot of Chinese learners wonder what is the Chinese character for beauty or beautiful. Today I’ll give you an overall introduction of its origin and how its writing styles evolved with time. And the most important: how to use it in our life.
Most people think that this character is composed by the top part 羊(sheep) and the bottom part大(big). Ancient people considered big sheep as delicious prey and gave美the meaning of delicious, beautiful and nice. So the original meaning of美only referred to delicious food, especially lamb, which was thought to be the best meat in ancient times.
Another group of academics hold the idea that from the ancient oracle, this character looks like a person with ram’s horns or feathers, which were decorations for the hair. Thus it was beautiful to wear those things, and it also shows our ancestor’s concept of beauty, which is also close to people’s idea for beauty in modern times.
Ancient form: Look much like a dancing person with ram’s horn or feather on his head.
Han Dynasty (BC202-AC220): In this period, the falling, rising strokes become more horizontal.
Tang Dynasty (AC618-907): Some of the strokes are horizontal but the other looks like ancient form.
Qing Dynasty (1636-1912): This writing is very similar to the ancient now.
美观 měi guān adj. Pleasant to the eye
美好 měi hǎo adj. Good; fine
美元 měi yuán n. U.S. dollar
美丽 měi lì adj. beautiful
美术 měi shù n. Fine arts
完美 wán měi adj./n. Perfect / perfection
优美 yōu měi adj. graceful
赞美 zàn měi v. Praise
美食 měi shí n. nice food
十全十美 shí quán shí měi id. Absolutely perfect
1. 漂亮 piàoliang
漂亮is the most common word used in Chinese, which means ”beautiful.” It can be used to describe almost every object, like clothes, food, places, scenery, etc. For example:
- 玛丽，你的裙子真漂亮！Mǎlì, nǐ de qúnzi zhēn piàoliang! (Mary, your dress is very beautiful!)
- 这个饭店的菜做得很漂亮。zhège fàndiàn de cài zuò de hěn piàoliang. (The food of this restaurant are very good-looking,)
- 你家好漂亮啊！Nǐ jiā hǎo piàoliang a! (What a nice house you have!)
For female and baby
- 你好漂亮！Nǐ hǎo piàoliang! (You are so beautiful!)
- 你的宝宝真漂亮！Nǐ de bǎobao zhēn piàoliang! (Your baby is so beautiful!)
When it is used for people, be careful that 漂亮piàoliang is strictly for a female and baby, not for male. Chinese people use 帅 for male. 帅哥shuàigē for handsome man and 美女měinǚ for beautiful woman.
2. 好 hǎo
You definitely know this word already, but do you know that Chinese people also use 好 for nice and beautiful weather?
A: 北京秋天的天气怎么样？Běijīng qiūtiān de tiānqì zěnmeyàng? (How’s the weather in Beijing in autumn?)
B：秋天的天气很好! Qiūtiān de tiānqì hěn hǎo! (It’s very nice!)