What Are the Various Meanings of the Chinese Character 日 (rì)

The Chinese Symbol for Sun, Day, Date and More

Sunrise on Bund Shanghai with walking man
spreephoto.de / Getty Images

The Chinese character 日 (rì) can be defined as day, sun, date, or day of the month. Besides being an independent character, it is also radical. This means that 日 (rì) is a component of other characters that often have to do with the sun or with the day.

Character Evolution

The character 日 is a pictograph depicting the sun. Its earliest form was a circle with a dot in the center, and four rays extending from the circle.

The central dot has become a horizontal stroke in the modern form of this character, which makes it similar to the character 目 (mù), which means eye.

Sun Radical

Here are some of the characters that incorporate the radical 日. As you can tell, many Chinese words that include the sun radical are associated with daytime or brightness, but that is not always the case.

早 – zǎo – early; morning

旱 – hàn – drought

旴 – xū – rising sun

明 – míng – bright; clear

星 – xīng – star

春 – chūn – spring (season)

晚 – wǎn – evening; late; night

晝 – zhòu – daytime

晶 – jīng – crystal

曩 – nǎng – in former times

Mandarin Vocabulary With Rì

The Chinese word for sun can also be incorporated into other vocabulary words and phrases. Look at this chart for a few examples:

Traditional CharactersSimplified CharactersPinyinEnglish
暗無天日暗無天日àn wú tiān rìcomplete darkness
不日不日bù rìwithin the next few days
出生日期出生日期chū shēng rì qīdate of birth
光天化日光天化日guāng tiān huà rìin broad daylight
節日節日jié rìholiday
星期日星期日xīng qī rìSunday
日出日出rì chūsunrise
日本日本Rì běnJapan
日記日記rì jìdiary
生日生日shēng rìbirthday