WordNet is a database of English words, which includes semantic relationships of words too. It includes synonym and antonym-relationships, as well as "categories". For example, it will tell me that a tabby is a cat and that a cat is an animal.

Is there anything comparable for Chinese, which is freely downloadable?

Anything that can be used online is already useful, but I'd prefer a database that I can download and analyse on my own computer. I only need it for personal use (in case the license doesn't allow anything else).

  • Chinese, like many other languages, are constantly evolving. Historically, there have been effort to standardizing the language at points where it was too differentiated. There have been a few notable dictionaries that was created to extensively document the language, sometimes by the order of the Emperor of the time. 康熙字典 is one of the most notable dictionary, it is nearly 200 years old, but still one of the best dictionary with extensive documentation of origin of words. Back to modern China 中华大字典 is based on 康熙字典 and is created in 1915, also a good source. You can search and download them.
    – Gapton
    Commented Jan 15, 2012 at 14:36
  • Dictionaries are not the same as Wordnet. Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 2:00
  • 康熙字典 is about 300 years old. The 字典考證, which fixed the original's many mistakes, is 181 years old.
    – dda
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 3:52

5 Answers 5


For the Simplified Chinese script, there is Chinese Open Wordnet which you can search online.

This is part of Open Multilingual Wordnet, which also links to a smaller project called Chinese WordNet which was produced in Taiwan in 2010 and uses the Traditional Chinese script. That one also has a 2012 version called Chinese WordNet 2, but the license of Chinese WordNet 2 is much more restrictive than that of the original Chinese WordNet or Chinese Open Wordnet. Chinese WordNet 2 is non-commercial use only and no redistribution without permission, which means others have not integrated it with their online query systems and such. You can still download it if you don't mind doing a bit of programming to read out the data (I suggest use the "CWN DataBase" link and the output.sqlite file; if you want to process it as text do echo .dump|sqlite3 output.sqlite > output.txt on GNU/Linux).

However if you can convert your input to the Simplified Chinese script then you might as well just use Chinese Open Wordnet.


You can take a look at : http://lope.linguistics.ntu.edu.tw/cwn/

  • 1
    Hi shukai, thanks for your answer. Can you please improve your answer so that it contains more information than just a reference to a link. If you could add some information on exactly what the link is for or what is available on that site. Thanks.
    – going
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 2:59
  • This website looks very promising. It shows semantic relationships visually in a fairly neat way. I just checked a few words, but perhaps someone who has used it more can provide more information.
    – Olle Linge
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 14:46
  • I couldn't find anything visual on that site, @OlleLinge, but I wasn't able to read all the instructions. Was there a link to another page that I missed?
    – Don Kirkby
    Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 6:17
  • Yes. Click 線上檢查 at the top and enter your keyword. Here's a direct link, but I'm not sure if it will work: lope.linguistics.ntu.edu.tw/cwn/query. You can also download, but I haven't tried that.
    – Olle Linge
    Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 6:32

CWN: Chinese Wordnet

The National Taiwan University is working on the CWN (Chinese Wordnet or 中文詞彙網路). The project seems to have started back in 2003.

Online dictionary

They provide an online dictionary for English←→Chinese (雙語詞網自動翻譯).


If you want to works with their data, you can download the CWN DataBase as a SQLite file from the official website.


Here it is: Hownet.

The website is mostly in Chinese. There does not seem to have an on-line version. I didn't try to download the whole program (database).

  • +1, looks interesting. I'll need to take a deeper look before accepting any answer to this question.
    – Szabolcs
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 12:49
  • @Szabolcs The site has not been updated since 2010. Plus, to download the db you need to apply for a permission. I doubt whether they'll still have a look at the online applications :(
    – Nihil
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 2:22

I strongly recommend Zdic, where you can search a character via pinyin or via radical, and look up words or four-character-idioms with their synonyms and antonyms.

The website also provides additional resources, like a calligraphy viewer, a poems index, and a forum. It is a website not only as a dictionary, but also a windows for Chinese culture.

  • 2
    I agree that Zdic is very good, but I fail to see how it is relevant to the original question. As far as I know, Zdic doesn't show semantic relationships.
    – Olle Linge
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 14:44
  • @OlleLinge Hmm...I mean "synonym and antonym-relationships"
    – Ziyuan
    Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 15:11

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