Chinese Character for World: Shì (世)
Chinese Character for World: Shì (世)

The Chinese character 世 (shì) stands for world, an age or era, or a generation.

The world is typically referred to as 世界 (shì jiè) in Chinese, literally “the boundary of the world,” where 界 (jiè) stands for boundary, scope, or extent.

In this context, 全世界 (quán shì jiè) refers to the whole world, “all of the world,” or worldwide, where 全 (quán) means all, entire, or whole.

A century is called 世紀 (shì jì), while medieval or the Middle Ages is called 中世紀 (zōng shì jì).

世上 (shì shàng) refers to being in the world, literally “upon the world,” where 上 (shàng) stands for on top or above, while 世人 (shì rén) refers to humankind, literally “the world’s people,” where 人 (rén) stands for a person or people.

現世現報 (xiàn shì xiàn bào) refers to receiving a just retribution in the same lifetime, meaning that the evildoer will meet with evil returns very soon.

In Chinese 出世 (chū shì) means to be born, literally “to come out into the world,” while 在世 (zài shì) means to be alive, literally “to be in the world.” 出 (chū) indicates “to come out,” and 在 (zài) indicates to be in, to be located at, or to exist.

At the end of life, one will 去世 (qù shì), i.e. die or pass away, literally “go away from the world.” 去 (qù) means to go or to leave.

世家 (shì jiā) refers to an old and honourable family, literally “a family (家, jiā) that is influential for generations.”

Similarly, 世交 (shì jiāo) refers to a longtime friend, literally “a friend or friendship (交, jiāo) of many generations.”

There are many idioms and expressions that contain the character 世 (shì).

世界一家 (shì jiè yī jiā) declares that “the world is one family,” while 世界和平 (shì jiè hé píng) depicts world peace, where 和平 (hé píng) means peace.

世濟其美 (shì jì qí měi) states that later generations have inherited or are benefitting from the virtues of the previous generation, where 美 (měi) stands for beauty and refers to virtue (美德, měi dé) in this phrase.

百世之師 (bǎi shì zhī shī), literally “teacher of a hundred generations,” describes someone of lofty virtue and immense knowledge who is honoured as a noble role model for all later generations. 百 (bǎi) refers to a hundred and 師 (shī) stands for teacher.

Based on the traditions of Buddhism and Daoism, the Chinese people have a long-held belief that good will be rewarded with good and evil will eventually meet with retribution. The expression 現世現報 (xiàn shì xiàn bào) refers to receiving a just retribution in the same lifetime, meaning that the evildoer will meet with evil returns very soon.

世上無難事, 只怕有心人 (shì shàng wú nán shì, zhǐ pà yǒu xīn rén) states that there are no (無, wú) difficulties (難事, nán shì) in the world; all that is required is a person with determination and aspirations, or a person (人, rén) who has (有, yǒu) the heart (心, xīn).

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