The humble character “的” (teki/mato) — not to be confused with 敵 (teki, enemy) — is a kanji that started out with one meaning, then evolved to another, and was eventually adopted to serve as a frequently used suffix to modify any words that precede it. If you’re looking for an English equivalent, think “-ish,” “-wise” and “-like.”

According to the 大漢和辞典 (dai kanwa jiten, great dictionary of kanji origins) the classifier on the left of 的 was originally “日” (nichi/hi, sun) but was later modified with the addition of a stroke at the top to form “白” (shiro/haku, white).

On its right side is “勺” (shaku, ladle) and appears in such characters as 酌 (shaku, a ladle or scoop for serving sake), 灼 (shaku, burn/shine) and 約 (yaku/tsuzu, a promise/approximately).