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The Uses of “Door” in Chinese

We all know that a door represents an entrance, and thus it plays an important role in our lives. The traditional Chinese character for door is written as 門 (mén), and 门 (mén) in simplified Chinese. However, this word has gone through many stages from ancient to modern times. Have a look below:


Besides the most common definition (the large flat object that you open and close at the entrance of a building or a room), “door” in Chinese has several other meanings that we should know.

1. Door-like things:

冰箱门 (bīng xiāng mén) Fridge door

柜门 (guì mén) Cupboard door

2. Describing a certain big family:

门风 (mén fēng) The ethics and moral standards that a family / clan has kept for generations

门当户对(Mén dāng hù duì) A marriage between families that are of equal social standing

3. A certain school of thought or religious sect, sometimes referring to a teacher’s or master’s entrance hall:

佛门弟子 (fó mén dì zǐ) Buddhist disciple

门生 (mén shēng) Disciple, follower, or pupil

同门弟子 (tóng mén dì zǐ) Disciples / pupils of the same master

4. A measurement word, usually for subjects of study or branches of science, a marriage, or relatives:

一门外语 (yì mén wài yǔ) A foreign language

一门亲戚 (yì mén qīn qi) A set of relatives

5. A way to do something:

窍门 (qiào mén) Knack or key to a problem

发现门路 (fā xiàn mén lù) Find the way to do something

There is a famous story related to门 (mén) – 程门立雪 (chéng mén lì xuě). This references the story of Yang Shi and You Zuo, two students in the Song Dynasty. Patiently and respectfully, they waited in the snow outside the house of their teacher, Cheng Yi, until the snow piled one-chi deep. This phrase now means to revere the teacher and respect his or her teachings, with 门 (mén) referring to the door of someone’s house.

Do you have more ideas about门 (mén)? Let me know!

Helen Fang

Helen Fang

Helen is a master of Teaching Chinese as A Foreign Language. She worked in South Korea for one year to teach Chinese in Confucius Institute. She has published some thesis relating to teaching Chinese on “Chinese teaching and research”. Many years learning and teaching make her put the theories into practice. Now, she is working as senior Mandarin teacher at TouchChinese.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. thanks for sharing the various meanings of the word “door” in Chinese culture. i believe there must be some others,but i could not figure out more besides what u have done.

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