When referring to a human being recovering from some illness/condition, does 恢复 or 康复 imply that the person is still in the process of recovery? Does 恢复 or 康复 imply that the person has fully recovered?

When referring to non-human recovery--e.g. reclaiming land by reforestation, island reclamation, recovering a lost item from a lost & found--is 恢复 or 康复 more appropriate? Is there another word that is even more appropriate?

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    diyifanwen.com/jinyici/jinyici-H/021418334.htm 恢复 【近义词】收复 复原 。 康复【近义词】病愈 痊可 痊愈 全愈 "实用英汉词典":recover (a lost item):重新获得,找回,索回:he recovered his lost watch,他找回丢了的手表/The police have recovered the stolen paintings.警察找到了被盗的油画/a wallet has been found and can be ~ed at the manager's office,拾到钱包一个,请矢者去经理办公室领取, reclaim (1)开垦,开拓:~ land from the sea 围海造田/~ wasteland 开荒/rubber from old tyres 从旧轮胎中回收橡胶,also see jukuu
    – user6065
    Jun 20, 2016 at 17:48

3 Answers 3


恢复 usually means recovering from a state to the original state, almost always implies getting back to the normal and good state. It can be used abstract as well, such as people's mood or a certain feeling. Thus it is not necessary for describing physical things or conditions.

康复 is much more specific. It's always related to health since 康 can mean health in Chinese, meaning completely recovering from an illness. And it can be used to animals, but not plants(but if you are a writer and you're using personification, that's fine to use the word). Keep in mind that people don't really say 康复 from just a flu or a tooth pain which is not severe. People tend to use it more often on serious conditions like a surgery, especially that last long and require you to rest in bed. Although it makes perfect sense to say this word, it is pretty much in formal conversations or letters that I would be more likely to use it. When in a casual context that people know you're talking about the sickness, just say '好了' to mean 'recovered' and '好了吗?' to ask about if someone is recovered.


I think both 恢复 and 康复 suggest that the person has fully recovered. The difference between these two term, I think, is that 恢复 is a more general term. When someone fixes a broken machine, you can say this machine 恢复正常 (starts to work). However, 康复 can only be used to describe a person recovers from illness.

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    for 5 examples of use of 康复 with animals enter "动物 康复" in jukuu,
    – user6065
    Jun 20, 2016 at 18:09

you may consider: 痊(u+75ca), 癒(u+7652), 瘳(u+7633); all three have the meaning of "recover from illness", or "to be healed".

in modern usage, it's common to use "痊癒", my brief checking, that 瘳 is more popular in literary chinese.

as usual, it's fuzzy, that these characters alone do not imply it's in process of recovery, or fully recovered. if you want, you need to add characters for hints.

about non-human recovery, 康復 is not appropriate.

in your example, "recovering a lost item from a lost & found", you may consider 取回 or 領回 (recovering) 失物 (lost item).

"island reclamation", imo, it's not recovering. then "reclaiming land by reforestation", i don't understand the logic, would you further explain it?

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