I want to learn more about the meaning of the radicals of simplified chinese characters, because I feel that by knowing what each radical means, I can have a better understanding of the meaning of the characters.

So, I want to find a list of radicals of Chinese characters along with their meanings. Through using a search engine, I was able to find some guides on this topic on the Internet. For example:

http://xh.5156edu.com/page/z2443m7618j19616.html (for convenience, see screenshot of the website below)

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https://zhuanlan.zhihu.com/p/338926715 (for convenience, see screenshot of the website below)

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However, I would rather read this information from a reliable source since that would be more reliable than reading an article published by someone on the Internet. Preferably, the information should be published by a public institution from China that is in charge of the regulation of Chinese characters (e.g. Ministry of Education, National Language Commission, I might be missing some). If this information is mentioned in a serious book, I would also be willing to read it.

I found a document called "The Table of Indexing Chinese Character Component" published by the "Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China" (link) that lists the radical but the list doesn't mention the meaning of each component.

  • 3
    I think you are having a naive, oversimplistic idea of our characters, like they are indexed by radicals and each radical forms a semantic field. No, the truth is far more complicated. That said, for a small number of radicals, the characters under that radical do have somewhat related meanings, and 王力古汉语字典 has a 部首总论 when this is the case. Again this is only for a very small number of radicals. Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 20:02
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    Remember, radicals are HUGELY different from components. Dictionary radicals are used for indexing characters in a dictionary. Components are more for referring to actual parts of a character. You shouldn't memorize all the dictionary radicals as this will hinder you from knowing the true role of each component in a character and this will lead up to some mistakes.
    – prismcool
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 23:39
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    If I were to decompose let's say 法 (which is composed of 氵 (water, meaning component) and 去 (qù [not obvious sound connection in modern Chinese], sound component), I would end up making the wrong explaination saying "it is composed of the radicals 氵 (water), 土 (earth) and 厶 (private)". This will not help as you are hiding away the true meanings of the components and this will make it more harder to memorize.
    – prismcool
    Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 23:40
  • @prismcool But, what do you mean by “true meaning of the component”?
    – PdotWang
    Commented May 4 at 16:04

1 Answer 1


Check out this page 漢典 字典部首索引.

Unlike what you requested, it doesn't give you a list of radicals with their meaning. It, however, gives you a list of all radicals with a link to all characters under each radical. The first character typically is the radical itself. You click the radical to get the meaning of that radical. This is a two-step process, not as convenient as the one-step process you requested.

If you want a list of radicals with their meaning, you'll have to compile it yourself.

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