I'm looking for names of radicals that are universally used and understandable. As far as I know, the official radical names, e.g. 水部 aren't really used. I know that, in this particular case, the name is 三點水. But how about other radicals?

For example, what is 厂 called? The official name is 厂部 hăn bù, but would people understand me if I said that? I know that 厂 is chăng in simplified Chinese, but what name would be understandable e.g. in Taiwan or Hong Kong? The traditional version of 厂 is 廠, which doesn't even have the same radical. This page calls it 偏廈, but it doesn't look like it's used in practice, is it? Or should I call it X字頭 or X字旁? But how exactly?

If found many different lists: one, two, three, four, but there are a lot of differences between them. Which one lists names of radicals that are really used? Even native Chinese speakers sometimes forget how to write some obscure character, so I assume there must be a simple way to say “you need to write it with the sloping roof radical”. And I guess there must be some standard naming that is used in schools...

I'm most interested in names that are used in Taiwan, but answers about other places are welcome as well.

  • 3
    "教学汉字规范手册",汉字的偏旁及常用偏胖名称(23-32页)says:为了方便教学,我们从3500个常用的和次常用的汉字中,选取149个常用偏旁,并加以命名。e.g. 厂,名称:厂字旁,例字:厅历原,most often one of the following is used: X字头、框、旁、(在右称)边、底。some others:盖:冖:秃宝盖,穴宝盖,宀:宝盖,亻:单立人,卧人: 气 每 复,naming discrepancies:"经过调查我们发现,在实际教学中,各地老师教授的笔画名称和笔顺规则不甚一致,偏旁部首名称也有出入。尤其是汉字的部件,从划分到名称都有许多不同,有些部件由于难以名称,给教学带来困难。大家都知道,对某一个事物能否名称,是能否形成概念的重要因素,也是作为记忆单元在头脑中存储的关键,因此,我们在这本书中把笔画、常用偏旁和部件、部首尽量列出来,并且冠以名称。 – user6065 Dec 8 '16 at 15:20
  • @user6065 没有"*例字"这样词语,必须修改成"例子" – user6065 Dec 8 '16 at 21:15

厂, this radical has few frequently used characters and you might not find any good name of it in practice. 偏廈 is probably the best one. I call it 厓字頭 because it is the radical of 厓 (cliff, which has derivatives of 崖 and 涯).

I now go a little deeper on this radical.

This radical is actually a character of its own. Inherently it read hɔn in Cantonese and han in Mandarin. In the evolution of characters, it turns into 厈 and 岸. It originates from stone and rock, and extends to the rocky side of hills. Most of characters under 厂 radical follow the meaning of 厂, like 厚, 原, 厲. These are some other readings of 厂. You can look them up in some great dictionaries.

As you notice, 广 and 厂 is so similar and some characters under 广 mistakenly goes into 厂, for example, 廈, 廠, 廁, 廚. 广 is some simple house and you can imagine a wall on the left side and A-shaped root. Those characters in this radicals follows the meaning of house, say 廈, 廠, 廁, 廚, 府, 庫, 廊, 廬, 廟. 广 has its reading too. It is jim in Cantonese and yan in Mandarin. I call it 廣字頭 as it is the radical of 廣.

It is possible to make of some commonly known characters under a radical, like 厓字頭, 廣字頭. For characters under 艸, it is named 草花頭. They all just mean the "head" or "top" of one or two particular characters.

A little bit more. The simplification of 廣 to 广 and 廠 to 厂 causes too much confusion in the understanding of Chinese characters. It is not only the confusion with meaning described above. 黃 and 敞 indicates the pronunciation of 廣 and 廠, and now they are eradicated in simplified characters.


Not sure why you think '水部', '厂部', etc. are the official names. I think it is something like a collection name, e.g., characters like 畓, 永, 沙, etc. belong to 水部, or they (with all the other characters with this radical) constitute 水部. It is not that the radical itself is called 水部.

I have never heard the name 偏廈. Maybe it is used in Cantonese?

The links you gave are quite good resources. Some radicals have more than one names and some names are not widely used any more, which is normal and you needn't worry. Most of the names given are common and understandable. If people really have trouble understanding you, just give them an example character and they will know.

  • So, how would you say 厂 to somebody who uses traditional characters? – 米好 '-' Dec 10 '16 at 10:04


水部 would be 三点水 or 两点水 depending on the character

  • How would you pronounce 厂字旁? Hăn zì páng or chăng zì páng? Note that 厂 chăng is 廠 in traditional characters, and it doesn't even have the same radical. So that's a pretty confusing name. – 米好 '-' Dec 10 '16 at 11:16
  • Chang zi pang - San Dian shui - liang dian shui – Mou某 Dec 10 '16 at 11:18
  • 廠 and 厂 are both chang – Mou某 Dec 10 '16 at 11:23
  • 厂 for 廠 only works in China, not Hong Kong and Taiwan. Actually this character has its own meaning which can be found in dictionary. – OmniBus May 19 '17 at 22:41

Here's a list of the names of the simplified radicals:http://www.jiantizi.com/help/bushoumingchen.htm

As far as how universally recognizable, that's up for debate, but I would suggest that the names of the more obscure radicals are not universally recognizable as the author points out in the article discussing the following popular names for radicals: https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%83%A8%E9%A6%96 (scroll down to 偏旁的俗稱) and see if that helps a bit.


This answer comes from personal experience as a Chinese native.

If the radicals that you're trying to describe are Chinese characters in themselves (which is very common), we usually say radical + "字旁."

For example, in the character 张, we call the radical on the left side "弓字旁。" [gong(1) zi(4) pang(2)] Or, in the character 棒, we call the left radical "木字旁。" [mu(4) zi(4) pang(2)]

This applies most often to the radicals that contribute to the meaning of the characters.

For the same two characters, we simply call the right radical “长” for “张” and “奉” for “棒。”

For your own example, the radical would be 厂, pronounced chang(3rd tone), at least in mandarin.

For the rare radicals that aren't characters in themselves, there are specific names for them that you'll just have to memorize. For instance, in the character “打,” the left radical would be called “提手旁。”

Hope this helps!

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