The topic of 劵 vs 券 came up a couple of months ago and I did some Internet research at the time.

I turned up a document about an orthographic reform in China in 1995 which included, among many other tweaks, that these two are now considered variants of the same character in simplified Chinese.

More specifically, both characters were already in use with different meanings but 券 was to acquire the meanings of 劵 since 劵 was going to be simplified by merging into 券, thus leaving 劵 as obsolete in simplified writing though they obviously must remain separate in traditional writing and also in simplified writing up to 1995.

But now the topic has arisen again and I can't seem to find the discussions that lead me to the official document last time.

So I would like to ask the experts here how much of this I have right, if I have anything wrong, and can we find the official document detailing this change?

4 Answers 4


No. It became a variant way earlier than that. There may well have been a document to that effect in 1995, but it would not have been anything new.

It is well established that and were two different seal scripts characters, as @HenryHO points out. However, according to Qing Dynasty linguist Tuan Yu-tsai's annotated version of Shuo-wen Chieh-Tzu:

清·段玉裁·說文解字注】鄭云:『劵今倦字也。』據此則 漢時已倦行劵廢 矣。今皆作倦,蓋由與契券從刀相似而避之也。

So was the initial clerical script adoption of the original seal script character. According to Tuan, the visual similarity to caused the character to be rewritten as as early as by the Han Dynasty.

It seems then the original character was then subsumed into the character as a variant clerical script form, either intentionally or by mistake due to their visual similarity. This is supported by the Song Dynasty dictionary Collected Rimes, edited by Ding Du:

宋·集韻·去聲·願韻】契也。劵別書之 書以刀判契其旁,故曰契劵。

Which explicitly named them as variants in an official government dictionary, almost 980 years ago.

Therefore, has been a variant of for over a thousand years.


A possible earlier reference might be in the Southern Liang Dynasty dictionary Jade Chapters (玉篇) (Note: NOT the Song Dynasty 大廣益會玉篇) by the scholar Ku Yeh-wang.


This has been cited by the Taiwanese Ministry of Education as the first attested use of as a variant for . If true, the use of them as variants would have been as early as a couple of centuries after the Han Dynasty.

  • 《正字通》與契券之券異。券从刀,此从力。
    – Henry HO
    Jul 8, 2014 at 4:02
  • @HenryHO I know they were originally supposed to be different. I'm pointing out that it was considered a variant form as well.
    – Semaphore
    Jul 8, 2014 at 4:03
  • 1
    I can find the "欽定四庫全書" version of 玉篇 only :- (a) 劵: ctext.org/library.pl?if=gb&file=54557&page=60 (b) 券: ctext.org/library.pl?if=gb&file=54559&page=35 .... And your quoted explanation is under the entry of "券", not that of "劵".
    – Henry HO
    Jul 8, 2014 at 4:18
  • @HenryHO thanks for pointing it out, I must have misread it. Then the variant form would come only from the Song rimes.
    – Semaphore
    Jul 8, 2014 at 4:22
  • 1
    @HenryHO I know; I said that. But there's no reason why 劵 can't be used as a variant character for 券, just because it was first used for a different seal character. Remember, languages are living and can change/adapt, rather than rigidly stick to ancestral forms.
    – Semaphore
    Jul 8, 2014 at 6:05

I have finally managed to locate the document and the forum thread that lead me to it:

Chinese document title page

User pts posted the best comments on the Skritter thread "刀/力 recognition" from November 2011:


券 [quàn] means tickets or bonds. This one is easy. zdic.net defines 劵 [juàn] as 倦 (tired, exhausted). In the tab 康熙字典, we can find the following:《說文》勞也。《徐曰》今俗作倦。《正字通》與契券之券異。券从刀,此从力。(It is different from the 券 as used in 契券 (carved contract). 券 is related to 刀. This is related to 力.) So, 券 and 劵 are different characters. They have different meanings and pronunciations.

Then in the year 1995, mainland China decreed that one should stop using 劵 (http://www.china-language.gov.cn/wenziguifan/managed/003.htm) .

So, superficially, this is very simply. If one is using simplified characters, just forgets about 劵 and uses only 券 for both 券 and 劵. For those using traditional characters, the distinction should still be clear. Contracts are carved and so requires a knife. 'Tired' is about physical strength. There should be no confusion between them. But in the real world, peoples do not seem to correct themselves and everybody just seem to randomly pick a character.

So I don't think that the students will correct themselves if the laoshis are not doing their jobs properly.


@DavidChung nciku is correct in pointing out that 券 is a simplified form of 劵, because 券 now does indeed represent both of the traditional characters 券 and 劵. It only failed to also point out that 劵 have a different reading and meaning to 券.


Too long for a comment so I'll post this as an answer.

Not very official but here's an insight:




Seems like a case of being interchangeable rather than simplification.


劵/券 名 作为凭证的纸片; 票据 国库券|优待券|证券。 注意 ㊀不读juàn。㊁跟“卷(juàn)”不同。“奖券”“债券”“入场券”等中的“券”不要误写作“卷”。

Guifan here too lists them as being interchangeable listing it as "劵/券".

longmans (an HK based dictionary) 劵


so if this has anything to do with the cantonese speaking areas like Baidu mentioned then HK, etc just view 劵 as a variant of 券.


"劵" is the ancient form of "倦" (tired).

玉篇 (四庫全書) - http://ctext.org/library.pl?if=gb&file=54557&page=60

集韻 (四庫全書) - http://ctext.org/library.pl?if=gb&file=9487&page=20

"券" is certificate/ticket/etc.

玉篇 (四庫全書) - http://ctext.org/library.pl?if=gb&file=54559&page=35

集韻 (四庫全書) - http://ctext.org/library.pl?if=gb&file=9478&page=154

They are two distinct characters; neither is the simplified form of another,

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