allograph (different shape but same meaning)
connotation as a character part
abbreviated, abbreviation
contracted, contraction
extended meaning
kanji, ideograph, character
literal translation from the Shuowen Jiezi
modified, modification
mijn hanzi, modification
opposite meaning or situation
when used as a character part
explanation according to Richard Sears (
one of the 214 radicals in the traditional character classification system
situation chosen for evoking this meaning
suffix for counting units of objects, etc.
Unclassified by Joseph De Roo.



Primitives are character components which can be used to decompose a character and fabricate a story around it to remember it. Most of the time components where joined because of their pronunciation to certain signific parts. This means that originally a character had a signific part, giving meaning to it, and a phonetic part, giving a phonetic clue to the character. In case we use the original meaning we always put the marker RS. in front which means that the meaning comes from the excellent site from Richard Sears about Chinese Etymology. More information can be found here.

Knowing these primitives well will aid in remembering them. Primitives are always colored light green on this site.

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RSfire, flame, burn, anger, rage
  • flames
  • coals in a fireplace:
  • person waving with his arms in the air: something is on fire!
; ; ; ;
RSmale adult, robust, vigorous, 4th heavenly stem, street, ward, town ;
RS𠚣knife, sword, old coin, measure
  • 𠚣
  • con.: cutting edge, knife, scissors, sickle, chisel, money with which soldiers were paid
; ; ;
RS 𠂇𦥑hand, person hand ; con.: action, activity, be involved, work ; diagonally crossing strokes are usually a hand ; ; ; al. 𠂇 𦥑
RSand, also, again, in addition orig. hand with three fingers ; game where one has to guess how many fingers are going to be shown, one plays it again and again; see also ;
RSmouth, open end, entrance, gate, rad. 30
  • smiling mouth ; the mouth is where food and words enter and get out
  • con.: speak, box, pot, person, order
RSsoil, earth, items made of earth
  • person standing on the ground or tree growing in the soil groing in the soil
  • con. field, place where people live and work, clay, mud, dust
; ;
RSobstruction of breath (qi) as it seeks release, variant of other characters mouth being shut off
RS𠂉𠂊man, people, mankind, someone else, rad. 9person standing wide legged → ;
RSsun, day, daytime, Japan, rad. 72
  • sun disc ; a day is the time the sun takes to appear in the same position; daytime is when the sun shines; Japan is located (from China) where the sun comes up; do not confuse with rad. 73
  • con. light
sea shell, money, currency, rad. 154
  • two halves of a sea shell
  • /animal that crawls in and out of it's shell
  • used as money:
; ;
RS𤯓life, living, lifetime, birth branches of a plant or tree 𤯓 being slashed off: the branch grows back and if you plant the cut off part it becomes a new plant ; ; ; ;
RS丿slash, bend, rad. 4 left hand side of two rivers coming together ; con. write
RS𠄰𠈣 𦒳𦒴𪀧old, aged, experienced, rad. 125
  • person eating with spoon (having no teeth) food he has cut from the fields (therefore his back is bent )
  • RS. old man with long hair leaning on a cane
; ; ; ;
RSrad. 13 or rad. 14 wide, cover, countryside
  • where the sky is wide open visible
  • con.: market (wide open/covered place in the city), roof (covered place), sky
RSrad. 8 lid, top cover, head
RSsmall, tiny, insignificant small baby 𢦑 ; () ; al. ⺌: ; : ;
RSheart, mind, intelligence, soul image of heart ; what touches the heart influences mind and soul ; al. 忄: 1143-1178; :
RSwater, liquid, lotion, juice, rad. 85taken at both sides of the river : ; 尿 ; ; , : ; :
RSmoon, month, rad. 74 ; the moon is every month in the same position; don't confuse with
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