If you tried to browse Twitter, Easy, SoundCloud, Spotify, Shopify, Reddit, Netflix,
Paypal or a host of other sites on Friday, you were probably met with
the sad webpage face and “This site can’t be reached.” All because of a DDoS attack on one company.
The origins of this character are somewhat obscure. It was once written as a combination of 行 move/go, and 童 child/slave. Here 行 is being used with its literal meaning of “roads,” while 童 is a phonetic element acting to express “pass.” Together they give “road that (people) pass along.” It’s unclear if 童 also played a semantic role, but its complexity suggests that it would have. It’s possible that it may have lent its literal connotations of slaves bearing loads, and therefore suggesting a file of people moving along. The modern form of 衝 uses the simpler 重 heavy, which at one stage had the same pronunciation as 童, and therefore plays a similar phonetic role. It also has the same literal connotations of people bearing loads.
Road is now only a minor meaning. Some scholars take “collide/clash” to be a purely borrowed meaning, but it’s possible that it may have stemmed from a reinterpretation of the elements 童/重 and 行 as “heavy” and “move” respectively, suggesting “heavy objects coming together.