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18A DEFINITION 1. To predict, practice divination, tell fortunes. 2. To choose. 卜 PRONUNCIATION bǔ SOUND WORD Booby trap COMPONENTS 丨 STICK 1 + 丶 DROP 3 MNEMONICS A divining rod, as those used to predict where subterranean water is located. Let’s pretend it tells fortunes as well. STORY A soldier comes upon something that looks like a STICK made of gold with an appendage at one extremity that seems to be spraying DROPS of some sort of liquid (a holy-water sprinkler or a divining rod?). He’s about to pick it up when his comrade shouts: “Don’t touch it! Our chief predicted we would come across booby traps!” EXAMPLES 1. 占 卜 (zhān bǔ) To practice divination. 胜 败 可 卜 (shèng bài kě bǔ) Victory or defeat can be predicted. 2. 卜 宅 (bǔ zhái) To choose a house. 40 四 十

WANT A LITTLE MORE? • As a building block, the second stroke is sometimes written perpendicular to the first. • This character in fact represents a crack in a bone or a tortoise shell that was produced by heating it in a fire. The resulting cracks were interpreted and used for divination in ancient China. • This is the 25 th of the 214 Kangxi radicals. • Usage frequency: Top third. 四 十 一 41

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1 Chinese In contrast to Sumerian writing, whose history can be ...