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where the first parameter is the category:

  • (type) is 1,2,3,4, or p,i,ic,psc, respectively as:
  • 1, p: Pictograms (象形)
  • 2, i: Ideograms (指事)
  • 3, ic: Ideogrammic compounds (會意)
  • 4, psc: Phono-semantic compounds (形聲)

The other parameter (required!) is:

  • rs= is the radical-stroke ordering for correct sorting in categories; this can generally be copied from the {{Han char}} or {{cmn-noun}} etc. template.

This classifies Chinese characters as per the traditional classification (六書 (liùshū, six writings)).

As usual, etymologies should be referenced.


  • The overwhelming majority of Chinese characters (90+%) are phono-semantic compounds.
  • Beware of etymologies based on current forms (especially claims that a character is an ideogrammic compound) – the current form is often a simplification of an older form, which may not be related to the current components.
  • Richard Sear’s Chinese Etymology may prove a useful resource, showing older forms.

See also[edit]


  • Shuowen Jiezi (說文解字/说文解字) is a standard reference (early 2nd century CE), and is valuable, but inaccurate at points