From Wenlin Dictionaries

[] written character (graph/sign); ​字 Chinese character (​字 míngzi ‘name’); (HDZ:) ​, ​; ​怀; ​; ​, …; (​)

One monosyllabic entry in The ABC Chinese-English Comprehensive Dictionary (namespace Ci):

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The character 字 zǐ ‘written character’ is said to represent a ​ family schoolhouse, where ​ zǐ ‘children’ are nurtured/educated, and learn to read/write their names and other characters.
    The Shuōwén Seal form of 字 zǐ ‘nurture/educate’ puts a ​ mián ‘roof’ over a ​ zǐ ‘child’ (phonosemantic); when the grown child/son emerges from his home/family/schooling into public life, he is addressed by his public/courtesy name (​字); such names when written were the first phonetic compound characters.
    Note: The old distinction between ​ wén ‘pictograph’ and 字 zì ‘phonetic compound character’ is lost in the modern word ​字 wénzi ‘characters’.
    Compare: ​ zī ‘hard-working’; ​ zǐ ‘responsible’; ​ xiào ‘filial piety’; ​ jì ‘young; season’.
    Compare: ​(​) jiāo/jiào ‘teach’; ​𡥈 jiào ‘imitate’; ​/​ ‘study/learn’ (old graphs associated with ​ may have 字 as the lower component).
    “To bear and nurse; to have ​ children in one’s ​ house; ​。By extension, the compound characters (by opposition to the simple ​ figures), “begotten” by the process of composition ​ and ​... The ​ made by their authors gave birth to the 字, says the Glose” —Wieger. [Thus, 字 with ​ (phonosemantic) is the prototypical phonetic compound character.]
    “To breed, nourish, bring up, treat with fatherly love, cherish; (a ‘brought up’ person:) name or ‘style’ taken at 20 years; name, appellation; word; written character, letter” —Karlgren(AD).
    HDZ: 字 : zì : ​ (cf. ​), ​; ​怀; ​; ​, ​; ​, ​; ​字 (​字; cf. ​); ​, ​; ​字 (​: ​; 字: ​, ​); 字​ (​字, ​字, ​, ​字, ​字); ​, ​; 字​ (字​); 字​、​便字​; ​; (​) ​ (​字); ​; ​; (​)
►references: Guǎngyùn:357.13; Wieger:94a; Henshall:28; Karlgren:AD1089,GSR964n; Hànyǔ Dà Zìdiǎn:2.1010.2; Mathews:6942; Kāngxī Zìdiǎn:277.18; Bǐshùn Guīfàn:035.1.07; EDOC:1
►Cantonese: jih-
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Unicode: U+5B57
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