100. The "Birth" Radical: 生

The five-stroke "birth" radical 生 corresponds to an extremely familiar kanji:

生 (42: life; birth, to grow; raw; student)

The Japanese radical name draws on two of the many Joyo kun-yomi of this character: うまれる (to be born) and いきる (to live). The English radical names "birth" and "life" mirror the definitions of the kanji and the meanings of these Japanese radical names.

Henshall says in his newer edition that 生 is based on the pictograph of a "growing plant."

The 生 radical, which has no variant shapes, is on duty in just one other Joyo kanji:

産 (491: to give birth; production; abbrev. of "industry"; assets) 

In this character, says Henshall, the radical represents "vegetation growing; life." He notes that etymological views of the other components vary.

Incidentally, 生 and 産 combine in these ways:

生産 (せいさん: production; manufacture)

産生 (さんせい: production)

I gasped out loud on seeing this book cover. Three consecutive, large kanji featuring our radical?! How fantastic! The last one is 性 (723: innate quality; gender; sexuality), in which 生 is off duty. Here is the compound in question:

生産性 (せいさんせい: productivity)

The yomi is a palindrome of sorts! 

Other Joyo Kanji That Include 生

Having considered 性, you may wonder which other Joyo kanji feature an off-duty 生 radical. Here they are:

星 (154: star; celestial body)

姓 (1471: surname)

 (1474: sacrifice; victim)

隆 (1901: to rise high; prosperity; prominence)

(2041: to awaken)

And that's about all you need to know about the facts of life—at least as far as 生 is concerned!