Wednesday, April 4, 2012


The study of qi is essential for all kinds of Chinese Metaphysics. Here I have collected some terms associated with the word qi 氣. You are invited to translate or explain the meaning(s) of each term. This is a challenge to sinologists.

1)出氣 (2)運氣 (3)中氣 (4)通氣 (5)米氣 (6)激氣 (7)嘆氣 (8)咽氣 (9)忍氣 (10)嘔氣 (11)谷氣 (12)鬥氣 (13)空氣 (14)神氣 (15)脾氣 (16)老氣 (17)傲氣 (18)勞氣 (19)晦氣 (20)小氣 (21)手氣 (22)脚氣 (23)寶氣 (24)閒氣 (25)長氣 (26)人氣 (27)天氣 (28)英氣 (29)豪氣 (30)傻氣 (31)骨氣 (32)勇氣 (33)寒氣 (34)熱氣 (35)悶氣 (36)貴氣 (37)賭氣 (38)正氣 (39)邪氣 40)怒氣



Unknown said...

Dear Master Joseph

Recently, I have witnessed some people venting their anger (1) going out qi and maybe some people thought others were being petty (20)small qi. Today in London the weather (27)heaven qi, is damp and cloudy. Nevertheless, I think I will go out and get some air (13)empty qi.

Those are the qi's I can spot at a glance. I'll let others have a go because I don't want to be too long-winded (25) long qi.

Perhaps, when we are done with qi terms, would you share some shui, water, terms with us?

Thanks for such a great blog post, I love it!

Joseph Yu said...

Good job.
Actually (20) is an example of a mistake made right because a lot of people making the same mistake. The term should have been 小器 (sounds the same but different in meaning). 小器 refers to a petty vessel that can contain only a small amount of ... This term points at people with a narrow mind. Somehow, the term was mistaken as 小氣 and adopted by a lot of people.


Unknown said...

Dear Master Joseph

I didn't know about (20) being a petty vessel. What a fascinating homophone.

Somebody with who is upright and moral has (31) bone qi. If they look like a noble person you could say they have (36)noble qi. When you are lucky playing mah jong, pai goh, poker, blackjack, roulette or any gambling where you use your hand, you have (21) hand qi and can win. Hand qi is a different type of luck to (2) movement qi, which is luck you can walk along with 'han wun' in Cantonese and suggests luck over time along a journey. Come to think of it, off the top of my head I can already think of a few more Chinese terms for luck.

Maybe it will be interesting to talk about the different Chinese characters for luck sometime?

That's all for now. I hope some others will join in the fun!

Mary Catherine Bax said...

Dear Joseph and Foon,

As you would say, Joseph, we cannot define qi but we can describe qi.

Before I studied with you I didn't know one Chinese character. Today I add one more, the character qi. Different than the character in Qi Men Dun Jia.

I am happy to recognize heaven qi (27)whom I invite into my home everyday.

I have only known (36) to be the earthly branch Yin, the Tiger, so, I thank Foon for the noble meaning of that branch.

Does (12) or (24) have anything to do with opening a door to qi?

(3) is central qi? I recognize (5) but I don't know the meaning, yet!

This is delightful. Thank you.


Teresa Hwang Feng Shui & Design said...

Dear Master Yu,

Thank you for posting the list of different types of Qi. It is really quite amazing how one character can come out with so many different meanings.

I'll list the translation with your link to my Page.

Best qi,


Teresa Hwang Feng Shui & Design said...

Dear Master Yu,

Thank you for the list of different types of Qi.

I'll post the translation with the link to your blog on my FB Page.

Best qi :-)


Teresa Hwang Feng Shui & Design said...

Dear Master Yu......not too sure about a few of them, would like your comments please:

(1)出氣 = Venting anger/frustration
(2)運氣 = Luck
(3)中氣 = Dan Tian
(4)通氣 = Understanding
(5)米氣 = Rice aroma?
(6)激氣 = Upsetting
(7)嘆氣 = Sighing
(8)咽氣 = Swallowing pride
(9) 忍氣 = Self control
(10)嘔氣 = Keeping frustrations in
(11)谷氣 = Sheltered?
(12)鬥氣 = Fighting
(13)空氣 = Fresh air
(14)神氣 = Spirit
(15)脾氣 = Temper
(16)老氣 = Seniority
(17)傲氣 = Proud
(18)勞氣 = Lots to do
(19)晦氣 = Unlucky
(20)小氣 = Petty, narrow minded
(21)手氣 = Expert/Creative with the hands
(22)脚氣 = Expert/good use of the feet/legs
(23)寶氣 = Precious
(24)閒氣 = Leisure
(25)長氣 = Long winded
(26)人氣 = Yang/people are alive
(27)天氣 = Weather
(28)英氣 = Positive attitude
(29)豪氣 = Prosperous
(30)傻氣 = Silly
(31)骨氣 = Stiff upper lip/can’t be put down
(32)勇氣 = Bravery
(33)寒氣 = Chilly
(34)熱氣 = Heat/hot
(35)悶氣 = Bored
(36)貴氣 = Rich/wealthy appearance
(37)賭氣 = Gamble
(38)正氣 = Proper
(39)邪氣 = Evil
(40)怒氣 = Anger


Unknown said...

Hi Master Joseph, Teresa & Mary

Thanks Teresa for the translation.

Mary, (36) is a different character to the Yin(tiger) branch. If you look in your four pillars course book at the back it is the nobleman star character.

(24)does have the character door with the character moon. The moon is often used to represent the body. As Teresa has translated it, the character does mean leisure, but I think 'haan'(Cantonese) 'qi' does not mean leisure, I think it means anger over small things, as in you have time on your hands to be angry about minor things.

(12)is a different character to door although it looks similar. You look at the top two 'windows' you will see different pattern. Teresa has translated it as fighting. Fighting qi does not mean having a lot of energy to fight for something, it means to be argumentative or to hold a grudge.

(3) does indeed have the 'central' character. As well as Teresa's translation of dan tian, I think middle qi can also refer to the qi in the middle of the solar month, such as Chun Fen or spring equinox.

(11)is valley qi. However, I am wondering if it is another term for angry. In Cantonese we say 'guk hei' when we feel angry or frustrated, but it could be another character because Cantonese has a lot of homophones.

I am glad Teresa has done the translation because I can now see that (34) hot qi is found in foods that 'heat the blood' such as deep fried foods. Whereas (33) cold qi is found in foods that cool the body such as salads. Your body can be said to be in a state of hot qi or in a state of cold qi.

(4) through qi, can mean an understanding person, as translated by Teresa or it can mean to open all the windows in the house to allow the air to flow through and ventilate the house. If a house has been empty for a long time withour anyone living in it then it lacks (26)human qi.

If somebody has a lot of (14) spirit qi, they look impressive.

(5)Uncooked rice qi puzzles me. Could it be rice aroma as Teresa suggests? I think the same character can also mean metre of measurement when spoken to a different tone in Cantonese.

As we are on the subject of food, some of my friends say my Chinese cooking has good 'wok qi'.

Best Regards,

Unknown said...

Dear Master Joseph

looking through Teresa's translated list, (37)doh qi, doh means gamble but I think someone who is full of doh qi is someone who acts in a fit of pique and is 'gambling on his future' in doing so.

(16) old qi, is another interesting one. I expected to see 'loh' qi, but cannot spot it, might be there and I cannot read the character. In Cantonese if you are feeling loh qi it means you are tense and frustrated repeatedly. Could it be (16) because it is old qi, i.e same old stuff coming up, spoken with a different tone. Talking of (16)old qi can it mean old taste or old fashioned? Something which is no longer in fashion, or past it, can be described as 過氣'passing qi', can (16)old qi mean the same?

If someone is full of (35)bored qi, I think it means they are sulky. if a room is full of (35)it is full of stale air and stuffy.

(22)foot qi, could that be someone who is good at football/soccer or martial arts? Or someone who has a strong foundation, like the foot of a mountain. Just guessing as I don't know this one.

Best Regards,

Joseph Yu said...

Dear Foon, Teresa,

I think a simple translation of each term is not enough. What Foon did has a better effect.

Well, 閒氣 is not leisure at all. 小英在家受盡家姑的閒氣 - this describes a situation of a woman who suffers from the bickering of her mother inlaw without any reasons or wrong doings on her part.

鬥氣 is not fighting. It is two parties going against each other just for the sake of holding grudges.

中氣, as Foon pointed out, can be the mid-point between two Jie. The twelve jie and twelve zhong qi make up the twenty-four jie-qi. Of course, zhong qi is also qi from the Dan Tian. When we say that someone speaks with a lot of zhong qi means that he speaks with a great voice.

谷, when used as a verb, means to fill or to push to the point of bursting/breaking. 谷氣 describes the state of a person suppressing his anger and frustration painfully.

米氣 is a tricky one to translate. When we say that someone is 唔糗米氣 it means that the person does not show normal good behaviour. This is of Cantonese origin. The term is not used alone.

勞氣 does not mean a lot to do. It means grumbling loud with discontent.

骨氣 is the quality of unyielding to power and stand up with stiff backbone.

賭氣 is childish or rebellious behaviour towards reasonable demands. This is usually but not always used to describe a child disobeying his parents. It can be used between husband and wife and even friends.

過氣 means outdated or not fashionable anymore. 老氣 is showing of one's seniority.


Teresa Hwang Feng Shui & Design said...

Dear Joseph,

Thank you for the elaboration on those qi terms, I was trying not too be too long winded :-)

Best qi,