There's a similar question here:

what are some dictionaries about vocabulary of classical chinese?

but I think my question is a little different.

For instance if I want to find the classical equivalent of 您/你 what kind of resources are available (dictionary (hopefully!) /references/etc.) that would return: ?

Likewise, would return something like , etc.

A reverse classical-dictionary, is kind of what I'm looking for.

What options are available?

  • I'm afraid there probably isn't one.
    – tvk
    Apr 15, 2015 at 2:07

4 Answers 4


http://fanyi.baidu.com/#zh can do this -

  1. Set 中文 as your source language
  2. Set 文言文 as your destination language
  3. Let hilarity ensue

It returns “汝" for ”你", but doesn't suggest alternates such as “子"/”君"/"卿", which is weird since “汝” seems the "least classical" of all of those. Interestingly it does return "君" for “您" which seems appropriate. Translations of anything longer than a few words seem to be train wrecks, which isn't surprising given 文言文's terseness.

I don't know of any print dictionary that does this.


Well actually we also use "我" in classical Chinese. For example: 《曹刿论战》:“齐师伐我。” And as for 汝, it is not equivalent to 你/您. Sometimes 君 is also used to refer to 你/您. Therefore it's very hard to find such a dictionary that convert everything to classical Chinese and even if it exists it may not be correct.( And I guess there is no such a dictionary.) You may try to read more classical Chinese articles to get familiar with the way people write or simply ask a Chinese to translate for you. There is no standard way of translation. It depends on how you manage your sentence in classical Chinese. The most simple way is to find a sentence expressing the same thing as what you would like to say and pick out the words you want. Even Chinese people study classical Chinese by reciting the passages first,so referencing to an existing passage is very important. Hope this can help you.


This is just one of those things where you have to learn the language. Algorithm simply cannot think like an ancient Chinese person.


Maybe you should reference this website: http://www.amazon.cn/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_3/477-3660655-0519157?__mk_zh_CN=亚马逊网站&url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=古汉语常用字字典&sprefix=古汉语%2Caps%2C248

It is just a book write in Chinese which was used for a reference when I was in school. Hope you can benefit from it.

  • I don't think this dictionary translates modern Chinese words into classical Chinese words though. This is just a usual classical Chinese dictionary, where characters are explained using modern Chinese.
    – tvk
    Apr 15, 2015 at 2:06

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