August 10, 2007


Guest Post by Radha

The first time I came across the word 'Qi' was when a friend used it in Scrabble (I challenged it and was heartbroken to find that the English dictionary does actually list this word). I found the word peculiar & interesting for many reasons; the main one being that for a tiny word, it contains such a lot of depth.

'Qi' is the center of Chinese philosophy & traditional medical science, its literal meaning is 'air' or 'breath'; but in Chinese philosophy it represents what in English could be called 'life force'. Its close cousin would be the term 'prana' used in Hindu philosophy.

The etymology of the word is quite simple really: 'Qi' is a mandarin character which comprises of three wavy lines. The written character looks like a person's breath (if one could see it). Hence its use in this context.


Moi said...

3 cheers for our latest contributor!!! :)
Loved the post, Radha and thanx for sharing it with us ....:)

I always thought the word was ch'i ....that's how I have seen it written in some of the mags....did not know that it can be spelled as Qi too!!! Do they use it in Singapore too???

Radha said...

Is it? Its pronounced as "chi"; but I've always seen it written as "qi"....but then its an english word borrowed from the chinese, so one could spell it in many ways I guess.
And yes, Singapore does have a lot of chinese 'medical' practioneers; so its used here :)

666 said...

welcome radha. thats what I call a real chin'Qi' post.

wasnt aware Qi was a word in the english language. Such revelations never happened to me when I was trying to destroy my identity years back and was looking for a anonymous word to describe myself.

Qi sounds cool.

yogsma said...

It was great Post Radha..seriously it was strange word and beautiful too..why don't you join Semantica permanently?

AlterinG Abhishek said...

OK this is a good learning at least for my scrabble game,knowing that Q is a high scorer leter

but wow, it sure is very interesting to know they wonderful "other languages"

As far as I know etymology wise, Mandarin is pretty simple and phonetic-symbolic language.

the Symbol for sun looks like the sun, same goes for just about all the phonetic sybols in the language..

chinQI- - - LOL!!


Radha said...

It is a cool word, i agree; and not as common/commercialised as the more popular yin-n-yang or karma and the likes :)

Thanks! Glad you found it interesting :)

Its a rocking word to have up your sleeve in Scrabble especially if the game is towards its end and your opponent thinks there is no word you could possibly make with a 'Q' in your hand :)

inspired said...

i've just noticed all this stuff your doing;o]

Moi said...

Radha and Abhishek....: Being a dedicated Scrabble-r: I too love the word now....and the best part is you don't need a "u"in your set with a "q" to make this one..imagine if u place the q on triple word score :)

Abhishek: loved your comment..i am not at all knowledgeable about Mandarin it was good knowing that!!!

666: lol!!! we aren't very politically correct people, are we :DD

Inspired: I'm glad u made your way to this part of the world too :)

AlterinG Abhishek said...


Languages are an amazing mystery to unfold.

like we all learn everyday, here!!

Radha said...

While on the topic of oriental terms, did you know that 'feng-shui' literally translates to 'wind-water' in mandarin?

Moi said...

I did not.....i have a tough time pronouncing it, in first place!!! :)

Radha said...

*feng shway*...not that tough to pronounce :))

AlterinG Abhishek said...