General Question

sunyata_rakshasa's avatar

What is a rough translation of the word Tzu?

Asked by sunyata_rakshasa (350points) September 5th, 2010

as in Lao Tzu, Sun Tzu, Wen Tzu, etc.

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10 Answers

Sarcasm's avatar

From what I’ve been told, Tzu or Zì is a title, on a similar level of “sir” or “master”. Lao Tzu was the “Old Master”, Wen Tzu was the “Book of Master Wen”. Also Confucius was given the title of Zi, as a way to signify that he was the second-born son in his family.
My knowledge is just based on something a teacher taught me last semester though, I’m not exactly a Chinese Historian.

anartist's avatar

Confucius (Chinese: 孔子; pinyin: Kǒng zǐ;
Wade–Giles [Romanization of Mandarin]: K’ung-tzu, or Chinese: 孔夫子;
pinyin: Kǒng Fūzǐ; Wade–Giles [Romanization of Mandarin]: K’ung-fu-tzu),
literally “Master Kong,
from wikipedia

seems that the zi and tzu may both mean ‘master’

Fyrius's avatar

Another non-expert here.
Loa Tzu is also known as Laozi, and a few other variations. It seems Tzu and Zi are just different ways to write the same Chinese word.
I’ve also been told that ancient Chinese texts were traditionally named after their authors, so that the major work of Wen Tzu was also called Wen Tzu.

morphail's avatar

夫子 fūzǐ is “Confucian teacher”
子 zǐ by itself is “child”

According to, zi does not mean “master”, but maybe it did in Old Chinese.

Fyrius's avatar

“According to, zi does not mean “master”, but maybe it did in Old Chinese.”
Side note: Did you look up every possible intonation for “zi”?
As you may know, Mandarin Chinese is a language where intonation is part of the word, so that a different intonation can make the same syllable mean something else. There are apparently four different intonations of zi: zī, zí, zǐ and zì.
And apparently, the four of them have a total of 120 different meanings listed. O_0

sunyata_rakshasa's avatar

thanks that should be plenty of information

i dont need to be entirely accurate…

thank you all for your help


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