I went shopping the other day and used my dictionary to find the Chinese word for 'organic'.  Much to my surprise it is 有机 (yǒujī).  


Now, I thought I was pretty clear on the uses of both 有 and 机.  The former means "to have" or "there is".  The latter always seems to appear with machine words like 手机 (phone) or 飞机 (airplane).  


So can someone please help explain to me how "has machine" can mean 'organic'?  I'm thoroughly confused....

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Because cell phones and airplanes grow on trees?

Hahaha, these days it's more like trees grow on cell phones (Farmville). I think your comment will make me never forget this word.  Cheers!

I asked my teacher (native Chinese speaker w/ a degree in teaching Chinese) and she had no idea what the origin was... just one of those words, I guess!

Hi Nora,


This is indeed a great question!!!

“有机” doesn't mean anything like "has machine"or "has opportunity" or "has chance"

because ”有机“ is the transliteration from the word "Organic food" in English,

that's what I know from the word “有机”。


I believe it's the closest to Fukian dialect, in my opinion. That's why people started to name and/or call Organic Food as “有机食物”

“有机” in Fukian sounds like (五 gay) and gay word without the "y" 

< I'm sorry I really couldn't find any word that sounds closer :/


>you can try to copy+paste the words from the brackets in the google translate,

from Chinese to English and listen to the sound, it sounds like "Orga"

Hence, 有机食物!


(of course the pinyin in Fukian isn't like that, I was just trying the best for you to understand the "Örganic" sound. )


I hope my explanation helps :)

Ah, that is really interesting! The word had puzzled me, too.

Similar to the way Western names are written 'in Chinese' too, I suppose. I wonder how you'd write Gillian? 这力安!

Hmm Gillian, I think 吉莲 would be better for your name. :D

It sounds like Gillian but just a wee bit different in the tone.

It doesn't really has to be a particular name if you have you English name in Chinese words, but Chinese people likes names with good 'Feng Shui' and normally those names that has the meaning of 'luck, health, longevity, ability, prosperity and those positive meanings words. :)


and your name, '吉' as in '吉利' which means aupicious or lucky while '莲' is from the '连' from '连连' which means continuos. I used 莲 as it is more for girl but it's nearly the same word with 连,though 莲 is most commonly for 莲花 which is lotus flowers, which is described in Chinese as sanctity and purity. So, your name are named from 'continuous luck' concept hehe.


Most of the chinese people believes names give effects on somebody who carry the name, hence the parents are always having headaches and hire experts for their kids names.

That's great, thank you - I like my lucky name :-)

Thanks, Teacher Gen!  Your explanation put my mind at ease.  When I looked up the word, it felt as if the Chinese characters represented the exact opposite idea of what I associate with "organic". I was beginning to think I would NEVER understand Chinese language if it was not a transliteration.      

机 means something full of energy, dynamic, vitality,


Yaha, do you think that the word in not a transliteration?

Hi Nora

I dont think so, because 无机(opposite of 有机)=inorganic

There is an old four-character idiom/phrase, 生机勃勃 (full of vitality or energy), so 机in this case means something with vitality, life-force.

Hope this helps

have a nice day



I'm not really sure where the word came from but I read it from an article that it's transliteration. :)

and I forgot to add, it's also  being said that the people from back in the days, they only know how to obtain oganic things from living things.

That's why they called it 有机, probably living things like animals and plants are full of energy!! That's why they named it so!


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