Chinese Character for Outstanding: Yīng (英)

By Cindy Chan, Epoch Times
January 1, 2014 Updated: January 1, 2014

The Chinese character 英 (yīng) as a noun stands for a flower, blossom, or petal. As an adjective it conveys fine qualities such as being superior or outstanding, heroic, brave, bright, and flourishing.

英 is a phono-semantic compound, a type of Chinese character consisting of a sound component and a meaning component.

In 英, the meaning is provided by 艹 at the top, which is a variant of the radical for grass, 艸 (cǎo or zào), and is used to form many characters associated with grass and grass-related plants.

The sound is contributed by 央 (yāng) at the bottom, the character that stands for the middle or centre.

Examples of terms that use 英 include 英雄 (yīng xióng), a hero; 英俊 (yīng jùn), handsome; 英勇 (yīng yǒng), brave, gallant, or valiant; and 精英 (jīng yīng), the essence of something, the elite, or a person of outstanding ability.

The English language is called 英文 (yīng wén) or 英語 (yīng yǔ) in Chinese.

England/Britain is called 英國 (yīng guó) and 英國人 (yīng guó rén) refers to the British or to an Englishman or Englishwoman.

落英繽紛 (luò yīng bīn fēn) describes a beautiful scene of many delicate petals falling.

英英玉立 (yīng yīng yù lì), literally “an outstanding individual standing (立, lì) like jade (玉, yù),” depicts someone with an appearance and deportment as handsome and graceful as jade.

淑質英才 (shū zhì yīng cái) describes someone with a kind and gentle quality (淑質, shū zhì) along with extraordinary talent (英才, yīng cái).

巾幗英雄 (jīn guó yīng xióng) refers to a heroine. 巾幗 (jīn guó) originally referred to the scarves and hair accessories worn by women in ancient China. It later took on the meaning of “women,” and the term itself, either alone or with 英雄 (yīng xióng) at the end, now describes someone who is a hero among women.

The phrase 英雄所見略同 (yīng xióng suǒ jiàn lüè tóng), literally “what heroes see is roughly the same,” has a similar meaning as the  saying “great minds think alike.” It states that outstanding individuals (英雄, yīng xióng) tend to have basically the same (略同, lüè tóng) opinions about what they see (所見, suǒ jiàn).