I found there are two characters for "xia1" (ghra as in Middle Chinese), 蝦 and 鰕.

Could someone explain what the difference is?


3 Answers 3


You should use 蝦. As can be seen in zdic.net 鰕 used to mean shrimp, but is not used anymore in this meaning. In Japan it however is still a common character.

Using Google:

The latter is used in some exotic fish names.

  • Thanks for your Google idea. I have never thought up such an idea! Feb 24, 2013 at 18:15
  • I can confirm seeing on dozens of signs and menus in Taipei. I can't recall seeing . Mar 4, 2014 at 18:56
  • Let's put it this way, 鰕 is old, 蝦 is new. Use the new one although both are the same.
    – user3992
    Mar 5, 2014 at 15:06
  • @MikeManilone you have to be careful comparing number of hits sometimes - there's lots of "incorrectness" out there. For example 的, 地, and 得.
    – Steve
    Mar 5, 2014 at 16:15

This can help you to distinguish 蝦 and 鰕 http://dict.variants.moe.edu.tw/yitia/fra/fra03660.htm

蝦 蝦蟆也。蝦蟆見於本艸經。背有黑點。身小。能跳接百蟲。

蝦 the toad. The toad can be found in Compendium of Medical Herbs. It has black spots at the back. Small one. Can jump to catch many insects.

鰕 鰕魚也。三字句。各本作魵也。今正。鰕者、今之蝦字。

鰕 the shrimp. In three characters. (this is 說文解字 typical wording) Other book says this is a kind of spotted fish. Now is corrected to shrimp. 鰕, is the character 蝦 we use now.

so the character 蝦 came from 蝦蟆 (toad), but somehow it replaced 鰕 and become the right character. So if you want to have some shrimp, you should use 蝦.

Though I'm a native speaker, I'm still amazed that 鰕 is original character since I use 蝦 all the time. Thanks for your question.


According to modern science, shrimp is not a kind of fish, and it is not even Vertebrate,so you shall use 蝦 rather than 鰕. Because 虫 usually used to build glyphs related to worm-like animals, and 魚 used for fishes.


  • 鯨 (whale) is not fish, but ancient people simply don't know!

  • 蛇 (snake) is vetebrate, but people just think it is a huge earthworm!

  • no, 虫 originally meant snake, but later it evolved to mean worm.
    – user58955
    Mar 5, 2014 at 22:18
  • The old character for worm is 蟲, derived from 虫 (snake)
    – user58955
    Mar 5, 2014 at 22:18
  • Pretty good. Funny too. Sep 11, 2014 at 18:31

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