As asked,

Is the traditional form of 复 always used in “翻天復地" and why?

I assume it’s because the simplified form is one of those odd ones that isn’t a one to one mapping, so the traditional form is used for clarity?

If so, is there a rule about when the traditional character is preferred?

  • 2
    It should be 翻天覆地
    – thyu
    Mar 15, 2019 at 19:50
  • submit wrong 翻天復地 to bkrs and get "no such word,复 return; repeat; repeatedly" correction 翻天覆地 at top of 2nd of pair of 3-term columns (похожие, similar) bkrs.info/slovo.php?ch=%E7%BF%BB%E5%A4%A9%E5%BE%A9%E5%9C%B0
    – user6065
    Mar 15, 2019 at 20:38
  • @johan you’re right. Was using the handwriting keyboard and completely misspelled that!I think my original question still stands though? Although there are a few examples of the simplified version being used when googling, the overwhelming majority use the traditional character even when the 翻 is simplified, so just wondering if there are times when the traditional character is preferred, even in a mostly simplified character context. Mar 15, 2019 at 21:19
  • I don’t use simplified Chinese. But I checked dictionary 翻 and 覆 is the same in traditional and simplified version. So what you see might just be an incorrect usage. 翻天覆地 can be found here
    – thyu
    Mar 15, 2019 at 22:21
  • I just want to inform you Chinese orthography is way more than two strictly defined system called traditional and simplified. It basically consists of several local government defined standards(some of them are obsolete now) and tons of common writing mistake made by native Chinese speakers. Mar 16, 2019 at 2:38

3 Answers 3


@johan is correct. 翻 and 覆 are the same in traditional and simplified.

What I was seeing is 飜, which is a variant that looks more complicated, so I assumed it was the traditional.

And I was also looking at the wrong entry for 覆, here, which shows that 覆 is only used as a variant of 复 or 復 when it means “to reply to a letter” and not as used in the idiom.

Just a noob making noob mistakes, which I apologize for. Thanks for taking the time to answer my question :)


The form is 翻天覆地。

Other form is using simplified Chinese . Applicable to communications but when it comes to traditional form, only 翻天覆地


Just a small correction, it should be written as "翻天覆地"

覆 has two meanings:

覆 is a variant of 复 (standard simplified)/復 (standard traditional) which means "to reply to a letter."

覆, in a more standard way, means "to overturn" "to cover" "to capsize." In this definition, it retains the same look in both Traditional and Simplified.

The idiom uses the latter usage.

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