In Mandarin Chinese, 秋 (Pinyin: qiū 🔊) is a noun that means “autumn”, “harvest time” and, by extension, “year”, “period”, “time”. For example, 千秋 qiānqiū means “a thousand years” (and, figuratively, “a long time”). 秋 is found in many interesting compound words and expressions including
- 春 + 秋 = 春秋 (chūnqiū): literally, “spring and autumn” but figuratively a year, year’s time, person’s age, time in general...
- 中 + 秋 + 节 = 中秋节 (zhōngqiūjié): Mid-Autumn Festival
- 一 + 日 + 三 + 秋 = 一日三秋 (yīrìsānqiū): “a single day apart seems like three years”
- 春 + 花 + 秋 + 月 = 春花秋月 (chūnhuāqiūyuè), from the stanza of a poem by Yu Meiren: “the flowers of spring and the autumn moons”; a metaphor for a wonderful time spent in a beautiful location
In autumn, the Ancient Chinese would burn the fields to kill the locust eggs, in order to prevent them from eating the crops the following year.Lawrence J. Howell in his Etymological Dictionary of Han/Chinese Characters provides rather different explanation:
The relevant oracle bone form of this character is 禾 grain/rice + 束 bundle → bundle and compact/shrink harvested crops in autumn/fall. The character was later reinterpreted, as shown by a seal inscription form that is 禾 plus an element combining 火 fire and 龜 turtle → dry and shrink the size of harvested crops (as turtle meat is dried over a fire; compare 焦). The present form repositions 禾 and 火 while eliminating 龜. Note also the variant form 龝, which combines 禾 and 龜.More photos related to autumn and sea glass @ Shutterstock.