Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I once found a Mandarin Chinese dictionary which for each character listed the ancient, the traditional and the simplified Chinese characters. For each it described its meaning and how it developed into the current form. I cannot find it or anything similar anymore. The most I can find are sites which explain radicals of each character but not actual ancient symbols and variations.

For instance, the word "eye" was shown as a pictogram resembling an eye, then into the traditional and then into 目 explaining "a simplified eye turned 90°".

I know not all characters are made this way but again, maybe it was a dictionary of radicals but it was very good.

share|improve this question

On you can see how a character evolved, the simplified and traditional characters. For example for .

Another similar website is . Their result for .

Zdict is completely in Chinese:

Here is another website in Chinese (that only supports transitional characters):

As Aristide mentioned has similar functionality.

Another one is

Although it doesn't show how the characters evolved, I also like

share|improve this answer
+1 for mentioning yellowbridge... I've been using that forever for etymology-related questions. – Growler Feb 21 '13 at 18:10

It may be on, where the etymology tab includes notes on character formation.

share|improve this answer

If you are an English-speaking mate and you are interested in learning Chinese, there is an introduction provides a systematic overview of Mandarin Chinese. It uses a comparative approach to contrast grammatical and other features in Mandarin Chinese language with relevant issues in English. The book is divided into three parts. First of all, the book opens with a chapter on the setting of the Chinese language, giving a brief summary of the historical, geographical, social, and linguistic background of China. In addition, the development of modern standard Chinese has an important role – Modern Chinese politics, and this is discussed in the secondly part. And the last part, the book covers sounds and tones, writing, vocabulary, grammar, and discourse. Mandarin Chinese brings a serious of topics and issues together in one volume, presenting a coherent, easy-to-follow picture of the language, and a practical, efficient way to learn.

share|improve this answer

Chinese text is divided into "象形字" and "象声字", like a shape or a sound

you can see this:

share|improve this answer

Ehy I found it:, in my opinion there's no rival so far, if you look at it it has ancient and archaic variations of each symbol...

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.