Jiong Permutations

The 囧 (jiǒng) phenomenon has been around for a while now, and I’m starting to see more and more permutations of it. Here are a few examples.

From an online Chinese ad:

Online 囧 ad

From TofuBrain‘s Flickr page:

jiong mutations

From a local shop:

冏 variation

What have you seen?

Flickr updates:

This photo by 强悍的兔子.Rabbit has many permutations:

Also, these two examples of showing up in the character

…are explained by this comic [large size]:

The comic says that the character actually derives, not from and as is commonly taught, but from and . This etymology seems to confirm it. So one of the earliest character etymologies we learn (sun + moon = bright) is either a lie, or actually just a bit more ambiguous than we were led to believe? Interesting!


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. kastner Says: May 9, 2009 at 7:44 pm


    But it’s interesting there’s key ring

  2. kastner,

    Thanks for the link!

    You also made me realize I used 冏 when I meant to use 囧. Oops. Fixed!

  3. I think if you look at the earliest characters, the oracle script ones, that the majority show the character for sun next to moon, although it’s true that a couple of them seem to have jiong. Certainly in the Naxi Dongba script the character is composed of sun + moon.
    As the character is deemed to be a ‘pictograph’, and the earliest oracle forms of 囧 have it as a round character (archaeologists haven’t discovered evidence for round windows that early) there is some dispute as to whether its original meaning was ‘window’; some suggest it originally meant ‘bright’ or ‘sun’. So we’re back to 日.

  4. kastner Says: May 9, 2009 at 11:32 pm

    yeah, i noticed that too and thought you did it intentionally.

    Here’s another pic

    actually you can find some on google image

  5. Here are some ‘jiong panda’ animated gifs. Much as I find animated gifs annoying, I thought some of these were clever.

  6. Duncan,

    Interesting theory, bringing in the round window. I don’t think you can rely on it too much, though, because there’s always an element of stylization with characters, whether it’s rounding in some scripts or squaring in others.

    Yeah, 日 and 月 are “pictographs” (象形字), and I it seems 囧 is too, but that makes 明 an “ideogrammic compound” (会意字). That’s not really terribly important, except that 会意字 are typically introduced as combinations of pictographic (象形) or ideographic (指事) characters (still perfectly consistent), and 明 tends to be one of the favorite examples of the type. When it’s given as an example, however, it’s always 日 and 月 given as the pictographic components, never 囧 and 月, even though, as you can see in the two pictures in the post, there are still cases of the 明 for with 囧 in it popping up.

    I don’t care enough to research this, but I’m guessing that in the remote past, two versions of 明 coexisted (they both make sense), and they eventually merged into one, either through natural evolution, or through ancient character reform.

    But yeah, I suppose this is a detail that the first year student of Chinese doesn’t really need to know. 🙂

  7. kastner,

    Heh, no, that was carelessness. I wish I had more time to spend on blog posts, but as it is I have very little.

    Nice link! 🙂

  8. sushan,

    Cute! Thanks for the link.

  9. I like it. 😛

    You may already know about this children’s book, but it’s in the spirit of associating pictures with non-pictographic characters.

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