RADICAL NOTES

61. The "Heart" Radical: 心, the Bottom of 慕, and 忄

You know the expression "Have a heart"? The people who created the "heart" radical apparently took that advice literally, in that they made several versions of this radical.

The "Heart" Radical as 心: こころ

The parent version of the "heart" kanji is 心 (147: heart). When this shape serves as a radical, it's pronounced こころ. It keeps its 心 form in characters such as these:

必 (568: certain)
応 (622: to accept)
総 (738: all, full)
恥 (1572: dishonor, shame)

This radical retains its 心 shape in the next character, too, but that's hard to see, because the 心 lies in the center of the kanji (at its heart!):

愛 (417: love)

When 心 moves to the bottom of a character, you can still call this radical こころ:

思 (131: to think)
急 (254: emergency, to hurry, sudden)
忘 (974: to forget)

The "Heart" Radical on the Bottom: したごころ

Rather than using just こころ for such situations, some would call that low-lying radical したごころ (or 下心), meaning, "kanji 'heart' radical on the bottom." Others, however, reserve that term for the variant form at the bottom of characters. This alternative form looks almost like a mirror image of the radical in 思. Some examples:

添 (1631: to accompany)
慕 (1788: to adore, yearn for)

The "Heart" Radical on the Left: りっしんべん

When the "heart" radical moves to the left side of a character, it changes dramatically, losing a stroke and becoming very sharp: 忄. Known as りっしんべん (or 立心偏), this shape means "kanji 'heart' radical on the left." A few specimens:

快 (631: agreeable)
性 (723: gender)
懐 (1067: to become attached to)
忙 (1806: busy)

Two Hearts in Characters

Things really start to get interesting (at least in my opinion!) when we look at Joyo kanji containing two variations on the "heart" radical:

憶 (1039: recollection)
憾 (1113: to be sorry, regret)

A Heartless Character

By contrast, the various versions of the "heart" radical are notably absent from one character that means "heart":

衷 (1585: innermost heart, innermost feelings)

Instead of a "heart" radical, we find the "clothing" radical (衣)! That's one materialistic inner heart!

Heartless Compounds 

Now for a compound (rather than a lone character) that seems to be about hearts but is radically heartless:

肚裏 (とり: in the heart)     one's mind + hidden from view

This compound refers, not to the organ pounding in the chest, but rather to feelings—specifically, ones that people have hidden (pushed to the back?), rather than expressing. Although 肚 is a non-Joyo kanji for "belly," it can also mean "one's mind, one's real intentions." And while 裏 often means "reverse side, rear," in this case it likely means "hidden from view."

Here's another term pertaining to feelings:

胸襟 (きょうきん: one's heart)     feelings + heart

Typically, 胸 (840) means "chest" and 襟 (1181) is "collar," but they burst into bloom here with rich figurative meanings—namely, "feelings" and "heart."

As it turns out, the Japanese store their feelings in their chests just about as much as in their hearts. Chests are for storage, are they not?! In that spirit, it's possible to say this:

胸に納める (むねにおさめる: to keep to oneself)       feelings + to store

A sample sentence:

このことは私の胸に納めておきます。
I'll keep this to myself (telling nobody).

私 (わたし: I)

Terms for the Heart

We've seen quite a few terms referring to the soulful, intangible heart, the center of deep emotions and profound reflections. That's also true of the 心 kanji when it stands alone. To write the word for the thing that thumps in your chest, pair 心 with 臓 (viscera). In other words:

Talk to a psychologist about your 心 (こころ: heart).
Talk to a cardiologist about your 心臓 (しんぞう: heart).

 

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