Wiktionary provides two interpretations of 小:
- It shows a person (人) with lowered arms, implying the meaning of small. In contrast, 大 (the character for large), symbolizes a person (人) with arms outstretched.
- It shows an item divided into smaller parts 八 by a knife 亅.
小 represents small objects (such as shells or precious stones), or, more precisely, one object that was divided (the division is symbolised by “｜”) into eight parts (hence the shape of 八...)Uncle Hanzi is more laconic:
Pictograph of three dots. Meaning small pieces.
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