This really let me get confused. When I use the built-in Simplfied-Traditional Chinese converter in my mobile phone and entered 为, it got 為. However, when I tried to look up this character in Xinhua Dictionary, it said the traditional Chinese character of 为 is 爲. Although it also records the variant 為, it marked with two asterisk (**) instead of one asterisk (*), and as a result, it is an out-of-standard variant character. While I entered the tradtional Chinese character 爲 in that converter again, after converting the character 爲 two times (Traditional -> Simplified -> Traditional), it got 為 again. (Process: 爲 -> 为 -> 為) I also looked up online version of Kangxi Dictionary (hereinafter referred to as "KD"), when I entered 為, it said the corresponding character in KD is 爲 and redirected to the entry 爲. However, when I look up a Taiwan dicitonary for the character 爲, it automatically redirected to 為 without any prompts (including variant character entry). So far, in China, the 為 is still an out-of-standard variant character instead of traditional character or in-standard variant character, but when I have simplified-traditional character conversions, that converter said the traditional character of 为 is 為.

I think the difference between them are: for the 爲, it is used when printing old traditional Chinese character book. Additionally, it is also used in books and newspapers from the old days of lead printing in Taiwan & Hong Kong. For the 為, computerized printing has replaced the old typeface, and from a certain version of the operating system onwards, it is all the 為, and 為 is taught in Taiwan & Hong Kong school education.

I often see these two traditional characters. Also, the ゐ developed from this character looks more like the cursive script of 為, which is dominant in calligraphy. Additionally, is 𤔡 a variant of the character 为? It appears to be, but none of the dictionaries (which I know) has explained the meaning of the character 𤔡. So, what is the difference between them? What about the 𤔡? It's like saying that in simplified character "干" actually stands for "乾", "乹", "亁", "幹" and "榦". Thanks for the answer.

3 Answers 3


為 and 爲 should have surely been encoded as the same character, but Unicode has maintained them being kept different in Japanese standards. These are nothing but different graphic variants that took hold in various regions. Namely, 為 happened to become the preferred form in Taiwan, Hong Kong, while 爲 (which is "more orthodox" in the sense it is the form that appears in the Kangxi dictionary) was preferred in Korea and China.

It would be nothing but a variance in graphical forms (similar to how 裏 is the form in China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea, but Taiwan prefers 裡), were it not for Japan. Because Japan has decided to maintain 為 as their simplified (shinjitai) form and have 爲 as the corresponding traditional (kyūjitai), so in Japan it is correct to replace 為 with 爲 in order to reach pre-1945 orthography. And because of that, these two minor graphic variants are two confusingly separate characters in fonts. There are actually more graphic variants of the same in Unicode, like 𫞟, but they never became standard anywhere and so are rarely used.

As for which of these versions is more etymologically correct, the historical form of 為/爲 combines a hand and 象, so if it would be something, then 𪮱. In this sense, both are equally far from the proto-form to prefer one.

  • 1
    both are equally far Well, 爲 is closer because it has 爪 (hand) on the top.
    – dROOOze
    Dec 30, 2023 at 23:24

為 is an informal variant of 爲. The following is a screen dump of from 【異體字字典】。In 「字樣說明」, it reads 「本从爪」. That tells what the top portion should be. Click the link and you'll see its various variants, 𤔡 included. Its various ancient variants can be found in 【漢典】.

With the discovery of oracle bones, it is believed that the definition of 爲 in 【說文解字】is incorrect. The character is related to elephant, not monkey.



From 汉典 https://www.zdic.net/hans/%E7%82%BA

enter image description here 爲 《康熙字典》 (康熙字典未收录“為”字头,请参考“爲”字。)

From 辭典 (Taiwan) https://dict.revised.moe.edu.tw/dictView.jsp?ID=160753&word=%E7%88%B2#searchL

enter image description here

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