Radical Time! 口 (mouth)


The mouth is an essential part of our body. You need it to eat, to drink, to speak – we’d probably not live very long if our mouths were removed from us. Well, first of all, you won’t be able to enjoy that delicious pizza, that’s for sure…

The mouth is so important, that the Chinese character for it – 口 (kǒu) – is actually a radical itself, being an integral part of every single character that has it as the radical.

Here are some Chinese characters that have 口 as its radical:

口 (kǒu; mouth)


Naturally, 口 would have itself as its radical. Think about it: why wouldn’t it?

You can also make other words with 口, for example 口味 (kǒu wèi; taste), 口水 (kǒu shuǐ; saliva) and 出口 (chū kǒu; exit – think of it as like a mouth spewing out people). Such is the beauty of the Chinese language – the ability to form new words from existing characters!

唱 (chàng; sing)

One activity that you do with your mouth is singing. I mean, what other body part would you use to sing? It’s only appropriate that the character for singing – 唱 – has 口 as a radical.

吹 (chuī; blow)

Ooh… that soup sure looks appetizing!

Too bad it’s too hot. Gotta blow it to make it cooler!

And what do you use to blow on hot food? Your mouth, of course. What else, if not your mouth?

Therefore, the character for “blow” – 吹 – has 口 for a radical – because what would blowing things be without the mouth?

吵 (chǎo; argue)


Gosh, what’s that horrible noise?

Oh, it’s a bunch of people arguing about something.

You leave the room as the participants unleash volleys of insults and criticisms from their mouths. Although people are known to also use some hand gestures as aids.

Again, you need to use your mouth to argue vocally. That’s why the Chinese character for arguing – 吵 – has 口 as its radical.

味 (wèi; taste)

Mmm… tastes good!

Now, how do you taste things? With your tongue, of course. Where is your tongue? Inside your mouth, of course.

That’s why the Chinese character for “to taste” – 味 – has the radical 口. A word that can be derived from 味 is 味道 (wèi dào), which corresponds to the English noun “taste”, which is the flavour that you get from tasting something.

喝 (; drink)

Glug glug glug… drink up!

We use our mouths to drink water, juices, beer and other drinks. How else could we enjoy the many drinks that make us hydrated and satisfied? As such, the character for drink – 喝 – features the radical 口 on the left.

哈 (hā; laughing sound)

Ha ha ha… what a funny joke!

We express laughter using our mouths – as such, the Chinese character for “ha” (you know the laughing sound) is expressed with a 口 radical: 哈.

We can’t get anywhere without our mouths – and that’s why they’re so important. So important that in Chinese, the character for mouth – 口 – is a radical for quite many important characters, like the ones above. Now that shows us how important our mouths can be!

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