I am looking at this and it's wonderful / super helpful!

  • 王子 (wángzǐ) “Prince”, literally: king-son
  • 钱包 (qiánbāo) “wallet/purse”, literally: money-bag
  • 密码 (mìmǎ) “password/code”, literally: secret-number
  • 眼镜 (yǎnjìng) “glasses”, literally: eye-lens/mirror

That is, it shows the common meaning "prince" and the literal meaning "king-son". Do we have a robust/complete or long/partial list of these sorts of compound words in Chinese with literal English somewhere? I would like to see as many compound words in Chinese with English literal translation as possible.

  • What you need is the Chinese-English 词典.
    – dan
    Dec 14, 2021 at 3:59

2 Answers 2


Is there a complete list?


If there is one it'll be almost out of date, or at least incomplete two years after publication.

It is the nature of any language in this modern era to evolve and develop at an unholy speed in this globalized, interconnected World especially after the advent of the Internet. And Chinese gradually having global reach and usage due to trade, etc, (I better not go into the "etc"), is a prime example.

I have a "Dictionary of Chinese Popular New Terms", "中国流行新词语", first published in 1999 as I want to keep myself up-to-date with the develop of the language.

However, (as @dan implies), most dictionaries give a few common, traditional examples of compound usages of the headword. So, if you want to make a list, just group all the compounds together and you'll get a "List" comprising tens of thousands of compounds.

A humorous example from by said Dictionary are the compounds 爱滋病 & 爱资病, "AIDS" & "Love of Capitalism", both terms pronounced exactly the same way in Chinese -- Ài zī bìng. (I know AIDS is also 艾滋病)

Chinese compounds are actually shortened versions of longer phrases, the Chinese being culturally pathological about economy of words and expressions as it demonstrates high learning and intelligence because it takes both to say something meaningful with 5 words rather than 5 sentences.


you need a 词典

Chinese-English 词典, you can google or baidu "词典", and there should be some sites in China which you can check those compound nouns,

but I suggest not to do that since the characters in every compound noun has different meaning. so just use translaters, such as Google translater, and remember every compound noun you'v met!

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