Simplified characters do not always mirror their traditional counterparts one to one. Sometimes you have a simplified character where some of its senses have one traditional form and some have another traditional form (essentially it's merged from multiple traditional characters). A very common example is 后, whose traditional form is 后 (same as the simplified form) for the sense of 'queen' and 後 for the sense of 'behind' or 'after'.

My confusion arises with the simplified character 制. I can't seem to figure out for which senses the traditional form 製 applies and and for which ones it doesn't apply. For example, the word 制服, it seems to be written in traditional as it is in simplified sometimes: here (hk) and here (tw), whereas other times, it's written as 製服 such as here and here (this page actually contains both instances!!). To further complicate things, 制服 has another unrelated verb sense meaning 'to overpower, to subdue' for which the traditional form is the same as the simplified form.

Can anyone shed some light on this for me?


2 Answers 2


Historically they were the same character. Later the meanings split, 製 is usually the verb meaning to make, and 制 the noun meaning the system, or more abstract things.

Uniform should be 制服, because it means the clothing following certain rules/system. 製服 could be literally interpreted as clothing-making. Regarding the meaning of overpower, it must be 制服.

  • Even when 製 has 衣 as its radical? Dec 3, 2013 at 21:20
  • @deutschZuid Yes, the original meaning was making cloth... but not everything related to clothing should be 製
    – user58955
    Dec 4, 2013 at 1:27
  • Historically they were the same character Is this true? Since they both mean completely different things even in ancient times. (I don't know) Dec 4, 2013 at 8:30
  • @Derek朕會功夫 Sorry, it's probably one-sided -- you could certainly write 制 for 製 but probably not the other way round.
    – user58955
    Dec 4, 2013 at 9:02

制 and 製 are two different characters in traditional Chinese, and were merged to one single 制 in simplified Chinese. 制 is a noun and verb, while 製 is a verb, like 制度: institution, 机制: mechanism, 制服 means suppress while 製服 means uniform, as well as 製造: make, produce, etc. The meaning of 制服 in simplified Chinese is ambiguous, depending the context.

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