Word of the day – 月食 (yuèshí)

Today one of my Chinese contacts asked me the meaning of 月食 (yuèshí). It’s not a word I’ve come across before and I wasn’t able to guess its meaning from the meanings of the individual characters, so I had to look it up. It means ‘lunar eclipse’ and the individual characters mean ‘moon’ and ‘to eat’. I suppose it does look like part of the moon has been eaten during an eclipse. A solar eclipse is 日食 (rìshí).

This entry was posted in Chinese, Language, Words and phrases.

9 Responses to Word of the day – 月食 (yuèshí)

  1. Edwin says:

    I think the correct words should be 月蝕.

    Google Translate gets it wrong and Babel-fish gets it right this time.

  2. Jonathan K says:

    Edwin’s right. Zhongwen.com says its “月蝕” (the simplified would be 月蚀)and the second character, shí, means “to eat away at”.

  3. Jonathan K says:

    Edit: Both are actually correct.

  4. Stella says:

    I was taught to use “月蝕”, but there are different types of eclipses. For example, there are Annular Eclipses (日環蝕), Lunar Eclipses (月蝕), 月全蝕 (Total Eclipse) , Partial Eclipse (月偏蝕), Penumbra Eclipse (半影月蝕) etc.

    I personally think that the Chinese word (月蝕/yue-shi) for “eclipse” is much easier to remember than the English word!:P

  5. Mike says:

    In Japanese, both 蝕 and 食 are acceptable in these compounds (pronounced ‘gesshoku’ [月食/月蝕] and ‘nisshoku’ [日食/日蝕]).

  6. BG says:

    The English word is difficult to remember because people do not know the meaning of eclipse, “ἐκλειψις” in Greek, which means “loss” and comes from the verb which literally means “to leave out”, “ἐκ” – “out” and “λειπω” – “to leave”. The moon being eaten does seem like a pretty good description of an eclipse. Did this topic come up because of the recent lunar eclipse? It’s funny that we talked about this in my German class as well.

  7. epingchris says:

    Both are equally accepted in Chinese. And interesting that they have the same pronunciation……

    月蝕 and 日蝕 are self-explanatory enough (lunar erosion/solar erosion); 月食 and 日食 came from the ancient Chinese myth that states eclipses are caused by tiangou (“the sky dog”) eating the sun or moon, from Wikipedia.

  8. Kangy says:

    I love how people from the Far East think, and the way their thinking influences their languages, vocabulary, construction of words and expressions, etc.

  9. Lyydie says:

    Well, that is much easier than saying “lunar eclipse.”

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