Neither纟 nor 糸 are used as words in modern Chinese, i know the word for silk is 丝( trad 絲). Many radicals in the list of 214 kangxi radicals have both traditional and simplified character, but that one is not clear about what it is, simplified or traditional.
Any information about etymology or origin of 纟 and 糸 is welcome :-)

3 Answers 3


纟 derived from 糸, which is the silk. (looks very like)

Like many other simplified Chinese Characters, 纟comes from 草书, such as

  • 訁 -> 讠
  • 飠 -> 饣
  • 糹 -> 纟
  • 釒 -> 钅

most of the characters with 纟are related to textiles ( 纺织品 ) , such as


refer to: https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E7%BA%9F/8457525?fr=aladdin


The standalone character pronounced si1 is a variant of 丝 (丝的异体字)


It is written 糹(traditional) and then 纟(simplified) when it appears as a radical on the left side of a character. According to the 简化字总表:

[...] 不论在一个字的任何部位,都可以使用,其中 “讠、饣、纟、钅”一般只能用于左偏旁。这些简化偏旁一般都不能单独使用。

When it appears in other positions, it keeps its full form 糸:


In cursive script 书法,the bottom part of 糸 often appears as three disconnected dots, or even a straight line. For example 紧:

enter image description here enter image description here

From this you can see how it becomes 糹as traditional radical, and later on 纟(two strokes less), maintaining a tie to its original form.

  • Nitpicking: [1] The standalone character 糸 pronounced mi4 is a variant of 丝 is not correct, it should be The standalone character 糸 pronounced **si1** is a variant of 丝 (variant characters are different representations which refer to the same word, when they don't refer to the same word they are no longer variants), and [2] The appearance of 糹 is based on national standards, in many cases it is still identical to the full form of 糸. Its squashing to the left is still as "full-form" as its squashing to the bottom in 繁.
    – dROOOze
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 11:33
  • Also 偏旁 = "component" not "radical" (which is 部首)
    – dROOOze
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 11:39
  • @dROOOze the term 偏旁 = "component" includes radicals. The appearance of 糹 is based on national standards, in many cases it is still identical to the full form of 糸, which cases?
    – blackgreen
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 11:45
  • "Radical" is not correct terminology. For example, the radical of 辫 is 辛, 纟 is not a radical in 辫, nor is it entirely on the left side. As for appearances of the full form, you can check out the Japanese national standard e.g. in zdic (zdic.net/hans/細).
    – dROOOze
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 11:54
  • @dROOOze I'm not sure why you bring up characters where 纟is not radical. I'm talking about cases where it is. Nor I claimed that 纟appears only on the left side. Which part of my answer do you find confusing? As for the Japanese standard, I fail to see how it is relevant in this case. And it's still not written the same as 糸. The Japanese form in your link clearly doesn't have the left-pointing hook in the central vertical stroke.
    – blackgreen
    Commented Jul 12, 2020 at 12:01

Is 纟 obtained by simplification of 糸 ?

Yes, 「纟」 is a cursive calligraphy abbreviation of 「糸」 with its strokes straightened later, and in print form, it exclusively appears in Simplified Chinese as a component, but only under certain conditions. If you want to write 「糸」 by itself, it is still 「糸」 and not 「纟」.

Like other conditions on these kinds of abbreviations, you only use 「纟」 in place of 「糸」 if you haven't finished writing the character that 「纟」 is part of, and the next stroke that you're writing appears to the right hand side of 「纟」. You can perform this sanity check on characters you may come across:

  • 「纟」 is not used in 「系」
  • 「纟」 is used in 「辫」 (Simplified Chinese only)

「糸」 originally came from a picture of a small loop of thread 「幺」. Sometimes, 「幺」 was drawn with frayed thread ends, forming 「糸」.




The two characters 「糸」 and 「幺」 are now used to represent different words, but by themselves or as a semantic component as of other characters, they generally retain meanings developed from small thread:

Duplicating 「糸」 or 「幺」 into 「絲」 or 「𢆶」 forms another series of words, generally not overlapping with 「糸」* or 「幺」 in history. See 兹 as a phonetic component for more details.

*Unless you're using Japanese, which has merged 「絲」 and 「糸」 into 「糸」.

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