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U+5929, 天

CJK Unified Ideographs


Stroke order

Han character

(radical 37, +1, 4 strokes, cangjie input 一大 (MK), four-corner 10430, composition)

Derived characters



  • KangXi: page 248, character 4
  • Dai Kanwa Jiten: character 5833
  • Dae Jaweon: page 500, character 2
  • Hanyu Da Zidian (first edition): volume 1, page 522, character 1
  • Unihan data for U+5929

Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg Tok Saina

simp. and trad.
alternative forms
The sky over Guangdong.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in Beijing's Temple of Heaven.
Wikipedia has articles on:
  • (Written Standard Chinese?)
  • (Cantonese)
  • Tian (English)

Glyph origin

Historical forms of the character
Shang Western Zhou Spring and Autumn Warring States Shuowen Jiezi (compiled in Han) Liushutong (compiled in Ming)
Bronze inscriptions Oracle bone script Bronze inscriptions Bronze inscriptions Bronze inscriptions Chu slip and silk script Qin slip script Small seal script Transcribed ancient scripts
天-bronze-shang.svg 天-oracle.svg 天-bronze.svg 天-bronze-spring.svg 天-bronze-warring.svg 天-silk.svg 天-slip.svg 天-seal.svg 天-bigseal.svg

A top line representing the level above a man with outstretched arms (). Ancient representations of the character depicted a man with a large head, an anthropomorphic representation of heaven.

Original meaning of the word is “sky”. Such concept is difficult to depict with a pictogram, hence the current form. Perhaps influenced by the glyph, the character was frequently glossed in Old Chinese documents with (“crown of the head”), and such had led to incorrect hypotheses which regarded (tiān) as a derivation of or , “top (of the head/hill)”.


This character was previously reconstructed to have a /*tʰ/-initial in Old Chinese, but this hypothesis has been largely discounted in recent reconstructions, in light of evidence from early Chinese accounts of dialectal pronunciations, transcription of other languages, as well as cognate/derived characters within Chinese, which has all pointed to a voiceless resonant initial /*l̥-/ in Old Chinese. According to chapter 1 of Shiming, by c. 200 Templet:CE, this initial had already produced dialectal variation in the pronunciation: People in central-western China pronounced it with the back of the tongue, like , while people in eastern China pronounced it with the tip of the tongue, like . An old northwestern dialect variant survives as (“God of the Zoroastrians”), and the word 天竺 (“India”) was used to transcribe Old Persian *Hind-uka ("India").

Further etymology is unknown. During the time when this term was reconstructed with a /*tʰ-/ initial, it was frequently compared with tengri, the name for God in early Turkic and Mongolic peoples' languages. This now appears unlikely. The only certain external cognate is the Central Bai (a language closely related to Chinese) word heinl (sky, heaven) /xẽ⁵⁵/. Chen (1998) proposes cognation with 祁連 (OC *g'ieg-lian) and 赫連 (OC *khak-lian), transcriptions of a Xiongnu word for "sky", which he also relates to 昊天 (OC *g'ôg-hlin).


  • thiⁿ - vernacular;
  • thian - literary.
  • tin1 - vernacular;
  • tiêng1/tiang1 - literary (tiêng1 - Chaozhou).
  • Wu
  • Xiang
  • Definitions

    [[Category:Templet:zh Han characterss|天]]

    1. sky; heavens; heavenly; celestial
        ―  tiānkōng  ―  sky
        ―  Tiān hēi le.  ―  It's getting dark.
    2. (mythology or religion) heaven as the abode of the gods or the blessed departed; heavenly.
        ―  shàngtiān  ―  to go up to the sky; to go to heaven
        ―  tiān  ―  Heaven's will
    3. (mythology or religion) Heaven as an impersonal deity, often translated as God.
        ―  tiānzhǔ  ―  God
        ―  lǎotiān  ―  god
        ―  Wǒ de tiān a!  ―  Oh my God!
        ―  Tiān zhù zì zhù zhě.  ―  God helps those who help themselves.
    4. top; overhead
      /   ―  tiānqiáo  ―  footbridge
        ―  tiānchuāng  ―  sunroof
    5. weather; climate
      /   ―  tiān  ―  weather
      如果我們散步 [MSC, trad.]
      如果我们散步 [MSC, simp.]
      Rúguǒ tiān qíng, wǒmen jiù qù sànbù. [Pinyin]
      If the weather clears, we'll go for a walk.
    6. day (24 hours)
        ―  jīntiān  ―  today
        ―  míngtiān  ―  tomorrow
        ―  sān tiān  ―  three days
    7. day (as opposed to night)
        ―  báitiān  ―  daytime
    8. season
      [MSC, trad. and simp.]
      chūntiān, xiàtiān, qiūtiān, dōngtiān [Pinyin]
      spring, summer, autumn, winter
    9. nature
      /   ―  tiānzāi  ―  natural disaster
    10. natural; innate
        ―  tiānshēng  ―  innate
        ―  tiānxìng  ―  nature, personality
        ―  tiāncái  ―  genius


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    See 天/derived terms § Chinese.


    Sino-Xenic ():
    • Siapan: (てん) (ten)
    • Korean: (, cheon)
    • Vietnamese: thiên ()


    Flag of Japan.svg Tok Siapan



    (grade 1 “Kyōiku” kanji)

    1. heavens, sky



    See 天/derived terms § Japanese.

    Etymology 1

    Kanji in this term
    Grade: 1

    From Old Japanese. A bound form only appearing in compounds.[1][2] Compare the formation of (ma, bound form in compounds) and (me, standalone form), (ta, bound form in compounds) and (te, standalone form).



    (あま) (ama

    1. (archaic) the sky, the heavens
    2. the area above a kitchen stove:
      1. where the smoke collects in an old kitchen using a wood-burning stove
      2. a shelf or shelves above the stove
    3. (archaic) heaven

    Etymology 2

    Kanji in this term
    Grade: 1

    Templet:IPAfont → */aməj//ame/

    From Old Japanese as a sound shift from ama above.[1] Likely derived by fusion of ama + (i, emphatic nominative particle), similar to the derivation of other words such as (kami, from kamu + i), (me, from ma + i), etc.



    (あめ) (ame

    1. (archaic) the sky, the heavens
    2. (archaic) heaven
    3. (archaic) the roof of a palace

    Etymology 3

    Kanji in this term
    Grade: 1

    From Middle Chinese (“sky; heavens”). Compare modern Mandarin reading tiān.



    (てん) (ten

    1. the sky, the heavens
    2. heaven
    3. (metaphorically) the gods, providence, fate
      ten no atae
      gift from the gods
      [[Category:Tok Siapan terms with usage examples|天]]


    (てん) (ten

    1. the sky, the heavens
    2. heaven
    3. Templet:short for


    1. 1.0 1.1 1988, 国語大辞典(新装版) (Kokugo Dai Jiten, Revised Edition) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Shogakukan
    2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2006, 大辞林 (Daijirin), Third Edition (in Japanese), Tōkyō: Sanseidō, →ISBN
    3. 3.0 3.1 1998, NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典 (NHK Japanese Pronunciation Accent Dictionary) (in Japanese), Tōkyō: NHK, →ISBN



    From Middle Chinese . Templet:hanja-ety




    Korean Wikisource has texts containing the hanja:


    (eumhun 하늘 (haneul cheon))

    1. Hanja form? of (sky; heaven).


    See 天/derived terms § Korean.


    • 국제퇴계학회 대구경북지부 (國際退溪學會 大邱慶北支部) (2007). Digital Hanja Dictionary, 전자사전/電子字典. [2]


    Han character

    : Hán Việt readings: thiên[1][2][3]
    : Nôm readings: thiên[1][2][3], thiêng[1]

    1. Hán tự form of thiên (sky; heaven).


    See 天/derived terms § Vietnamese.