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Shuowen jiezi 說文解字

Feb 2, 2018 © Ulrich Theobald

Shuowen jiezi 說文解字 "Explaining simple and analyzing compound characters", short Shuowen 說文, is the oldest and one of the most important character dictionaries of ancient China. It was compiled by the Later Han period 後漢 (25-220 CE) scholar Xu Shen 許慎. The book was finished in 100 CE but was only submitted to the court in 121 by the author's son, Xu Chong 許衝.

The characters are arranged in 540 so-called radicals (bushou 部首) in 14 chapters, and one chapter including a list of the radicals and Xu Shen's own postface (xu 叙).

The initial point of Xu's dictionary was the fact that during the Former Han period 前漢 (206 BCE-8 CE) a lot of different Confucian books had come to light, written in different styles of script, from the modern "chancery script" lishu 隸書 (the so-called "modern script classics" jinwenjing 今文經) to the old "seal script" zhuanshu 篆書 (the so-called "old script classics" guwenjing 古文經). In order to provide a tool for a study of these texts, especially the old text classics, which began to dominate Confucian scholarship at the beginning of the Later Han period, Xu Shen provided a dictionary which analysed the seal script characters and their meaning. The allegedly more original old script versions seemed to be more reliable than the new script texts.

The lemmata heads are written in small seal script (xiaozhuan 小篆), while the analytic and explanatory text is written in contemporary chancery script. From the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) on editions of the Shuowen also added transcriptions of the seal script characters, the large seal script characters (zhouwen 籀文, also known as dazhuan 大篆), the old characters (guwen 古文) and popular variants (suti 俗体), which have been provided by Xu Shen to some of the standard small seal script characters.

Figure 1. Beginning of the Shuowen jiezi
Beginning of the Shuowen jiezi, Sibu congkan 四部叢刊 edition, reproducing a print from the Northern Song period from the collection of the family Iwasaki 岩崎氏 in Setagaya 世田谷, Tōkyō (Seikadō Studio 靜嘉堂). Click to enlarge.

In his postface (xu) to the Shuowen, Xu Shen gives an account on the development of the Chinese script. It is said to have been invented by Cang Jie 倉頡, a minister of the mythological Yellow Emperor 黃帝, after he had seen the traces of bird feet on the soil. The simple characters he created are mainly illustrations of objects and ideas, simple in appearance and therefore called "patterns" (wen 文). In a later stage the characters or ideographs were combined from an ideographic part (xing 形 "shape") and a phonetic part (sheng 聲). This type of compound characters is called zi 字. Today both terms are combined to the word wenzi 文字, meaning "Chinese character" or "Chinese script". Xu Shen discerns six theoretical types of characters, the liushu 六書 "six types of script":

Table 1. The Six Types of Characters (liushu 六書)
象形 xiangxing "illustration of a shape", pictograms of optically perceivable or imaginable things, like 木 "tree", 山 "mountain", different animals and plants (馬 "horse", 羊 "sheep", 竹 "bamboo", 米 "grain"), 手 "hand", 眉 "eyebrow", 气 "breath", or various objects (戈 "halberd", 鼎 "tripod"). This group also includes symbols of figurative meaning, like 交 "exchange" (a picture of crossed legs)
指事 zhishi "pointing at things", ideograms of simple relationships, often derived from a pictogram. The relationship to the pictogram is indicated with a stroke, like 上 "above", 下 "below", 刃 "blade" of a knife, 本 "root" or 末 "branch" of a tree. Turned characters also belong to this type, like 乏 deficient" (opposite of 正 "correct"), or 匕 "change", an inverted 人 "man"
會意 huiyi "assembled meanings", combination of two pictograms, like 武 "war" from 戈 "halberd" and 止 "base"; 信 "trust" from 人 "man" and 言 "spech"; 喪 "funeral" from 哭 "weeping" and 亡 "gone, dead"; 旦 "dawn" from 日 "sun" and the horizon; or 公 "public" from 八 "to separate" and ㄙ "private". There are numerous characters from this type, but only in a few cases Xu Shen explicitly mentions the word huiyi.
形聲 xingsheng "shape and sound", combination of signific and phonetic part which applies to about 90 percent of all Chinese characters, is a combination of pictogram and a character of which the sound is used, like shang 賞 "to grant a reward", from 貝 "shell, i. e. money", and the phonetic shang 尚. The same phonetic part 尚 is used, for instance, in the characters tang 堂 "hall" (phonetic 尚 and radical 土 "pounded earth") or shang 裳 "garment" (phonetic 尚 and radical 衣 "clothing"
轉注 zhuanzhu "comment by turning", rarely understood type, because it is not sufficiently explained by Xu Shen. In his preface, he gives the examples kao 考 and lao 老. It seems to be that because both have a similar meaning ("old", "aged") and similar pronunciation, the characters have been conciously designed in a very similar way, but with one part mirrored horizontally. Yet in the explanation of the two lemmata themselves (see quotations below), Xu Shen derives the character kao 考 from an abbreviated 老 "old" as a radical and the phonetic part kao 丂 (考 thus being a xingsheng-type character). The following characters also might belong to this group: fan 返 "give back" and huan 還 "turn back", or biao 標 "tip of a branch" and miao 杪 "end of a stalk"
假借 jiajie "wrongly borrowed", loan-characters borrowed for a word pronounced similarly but with a different meaning, like ling 令 "order" from ming 令 "command" (later written 命) and zhang 長 "headperson", from chang 長 "long hair". Many grammatical particles are of this type. The ancient Chinese simply borrowed an existing character with the same or a similar pronuncition for these non-semantic words, like nai 乃 "breast" for nai "therefore", qi 其 "basket" for qi "his, her, its", zhi 之 "to go" for a genetive particle and object pronoun, or ye 也 "uterus" for an equalizing and stressing particle. In some cases, new characters were created for the original words, like 奶 for "breast, milk", and 箕 for "basket".

Xu Shen developed a special syntax for his analysis. Huiyi characters are generally analysed with the sentence cong A, B 从甲、乙, or cong A, cong B 从甲从乙 "from A and B". Xingsheng characters are analyzed with the sentence cong A, B sheng 从甲乙聲 "from A and the sound of B". One part of the huiyi characters is in many cases also used phonetically, in which case Xu Shen writes cong A, cong B, B yi sheng 从甲从乙,乙亦聲 "from an and B, B is also used phonetically". In a lot of characters the phonetic part is abbreviated, a phenomenon which in huiyi type characters also occasionally occurs. Xu Shen's formula for this phenomenon is cong B sheng sheng 从乙省聲 "from abbreviated B, used phonetically".

Table 2. The syntax of the Shuowen jiezi 說文解字
从甲、乙 【昶】日長也。从日、永。
昶 means "long-lasting day". From "sun" 日, "long-lasting" 永. (Note: This character belongs to those added in Song-period editions.)
从甲从乙 【昌】美言也。从日、从曰。一曰,日光也。
昌 means "beautiful words". From "sun" 日 and "to speak" 曰. One [author] says, [昌] means "sunbeams"/"refulgence of the sun".
从甲乙聲 【景】光也。从日、京聲。
景 (/ki̯ɐŋ/) means resplendence. From "sun" and the phonetic 京 (/ki̯ɐŋ/).
从甲从乙,乙亦聲 【晛】日見也。从日、从見,見亦聲。
晛 (/ɣien/) means the sun appears (見=現). From "sun" 日 and "to appear" 見 (/ɣien/), the latter also being a phonetic component.
从乙省聲 【晵】雨而晝夝也。从日、啓省聲。
晵 (/kʰiei/) means "rain obscuring the bright sky". From "sun" 日 and the abbreviated phonetic 啓 (/kʰiei/).
graphical description 【𣅼(早)】晨也。从日在甲上。
𣅼 means "dawn". From "sun" 日 ontop of "sprouts" 甲.
闕 (missing) 【㫄(旁)】溥也。从二,闕,方聲。
㫄 (/bʱɑŋ/) means "vast". From "above" 二, an unknown component [not indicated in Xu Shen's original or the transmitted versions of it, or lost], and the phonetic part 方 (/bʱiwaŋ/).

The arrangement of the radicals follows the contemporary conceptions of the universe, which is based on "one" 一, "above" 上, "religious matters" 示, the trinity Heaven, Earth and Man 三, and king 王, and ends with objects of human craftsmanship, like carts and tools, and the element earth 土, one of the five processes (wuxing 五行). The last radicals are the higher numbers and celestial stems and terrestrial branches. The sequence of the radicals was explained by later commentators of the Shuowen. It many cases the sequence is graphically, with the next character being derived from a part of the preceeding one, for instance:

Quotation 1. Examples for the graphical sequence of radicals in the Shuowen jiezi 說文解字
[...] → 小 → 八 → 釆 → 半 → 牛 → 犛 → 告 → 口 → 凵 → 吅 → 哭 → 𡗱 (走) → 止 → 癶 → 步 → 此 → [...]
[...] → 日 → 旦 → 倝 → 㫃 → 冥 → 晶 → 月 → 有 → 朙 → 囧 → 夕 → 多 → 毌 → 𢎘 → [...]
Figure 2. Beginning of the radicals list in the Shuowen jiezi
Beginning of the radicals list (biaomu 標目) in the Shuowen jiezi, Sibu congkan edition. Click to enlarge.
Figure 3. Complete list of the Shuowen radicals
Complete list of the Shuowen radicals (synopsis of six leaflets - modern transcription see Table 3), in seal script (zhuanshu 篆書), with transcription in standard script (lishu 隸書法) and indication of the pronuncation according to the fanqie system 反切; 1873 edition of Chen Changzhi's 陳昌治 reprint of Sun Xingyan 孫星衍 (Pingjinguan congshu 平津館叢書), who had reproduced a Song period edition.

The characters listed under each radical are arranged in a very complicated sequence not easily to perceive. Words with positive connotations are listed first, those with negative meanings last. Technical terms important for state rituals and in the world of thought are also listed relatively before very common words. Words with similar meaning are listed in one group. Within such groups, tautologies are very common (X is Y.//Y is X.). Without index it is therefore very time-consuming to detect a character. At the end of each radical paragraph, the total number of characters listed under the particular radical is stated, as well as the additional writing variants with old and large seal script characters. Later scholars have added some characters not listed in the Shuowen. These are listed as newly appendend (xinfu 新附) at the end of each radical section.

For each character, the meaning is provided first. Then Xu Shen analyses the character itself. In many cases he quotes from the Confucian classics to provide the reader with an example from the literature he knows. Sometimes he also adds a phonetic instruction of the type of du ruo X 讀若某 "read like X". In the last place he gives alternative writings (often another radical) or the ancient shape of the character, which often totally differs from the small seal script style.

The Shuowen jiezi lists 9,353 characters as a lemma, and 1,163 alternative characters (old styles, and so on). This large number covers practically all words occurring in the ancient literature. Some characters have later been added, especially such from Han period literature not used in pre-Han texts. The Shuowen does not cover characters from the ancient state of Chu 楚, memory of which was lost during the Han period, and not those exclusively used on bronze vessel inscriptions from the early Zhou period 周 (11th cent.-221 BCE). It does of course also not list the most ancient form of Chinese characters as used in the oracle bone inscriptions from the Shang period 商 (17th-11th cent. BCE) that were only discovered in the early 20th century. It was, nevertheless, easier to read these inscriptions with the help of the Shuowen jiezi. Without Xu Shen's indications, this would have been far more difficult.

Quotation 2. Examples from the Shuowen jiezi
1.1. 【 】 【
【一】惟初太始道立於一。造分天地,化成萬物。凡一之屬皆從一。(於悉切。)【弌】古文一。 一 [Unity, one] is where the start of the Great Beginning of the Way is based upon. In unity, Heaven and Earth are separated from each other [unity or one thus becoming two] and then transformed into the ten thousand creations. All things related to "one" are written with the radical 一 [e.g. 元 "origin", 天, "Heaven", 丕 "grand", 吏 "administrator of men"]. (Pronounced /ʔ-i̯ĕt/. [Note: Pronunciation hints were added during the Song period. For this translation, Bernhard Karlgren's phonetic reconstruction is used.]) 弌 is an old-script character variant for 一.
1.3. 【
【天】顛也。至高無上。從一、大。(他前切。) 天 [Heaven] (/tʰien/): is the summit (/tien/ [Note: puns were very popular during the Han period]), or the highest point which nothing can surpass. The character is composed of "one" and "great". (Prounounced /tʰ-ien/.)
2.1. 【 】 【
【丄】高也。此古文上。指事也。凡上之屬皆從上。(時掌切。)【上】篆文上。 丄 [Above, ontop] means high. It is the old-style character for 上, character type "pointing to situation". All things related to "above" are written with the radical 丄 [e.g. 帝 "deified ancestor", 旁 "vast", 下 "below"]. (Pronounced /ʑ-i̯aŋ/.) 上 is the Small Seal script character for 丄.
2.2. 【】 【
【帝】諦也。王天下之號也。從上、朿聲。(都計切。)【𢂇】古文帝。古文諸上字皆從一,篆文皆從二。【二】古文上字。辛、示、辰、龍、童、音、章,皆從古文上。 帝 [Emperor] (/tiei/): is careful (/tiei/). Denomination for the true ruler of the earth. The character is composed of 上 "above" and the phonetic 朿 (ce or qi). (Pronounced /ti-ei/.) 𢂇 is an old-style character for 帝. All old-style characters with the radical 上 are written with a simple stroke 一, and the Small Seal style characters with a double stroke 二. 二 is an old-style character for 上. The following characters are written with the old-style 上: xin 辛 (one of the Celestial Stems), shi 示 "to display", chen 辰 (one of the Terrestrial Branches), long 龍 "dragon", tong 童 "young, inferior", yin 音 "sound" and zhang 章 "stanza".
287.1. 【
【人】天地之性最貴者也。此籀文象臂脛之形。凡人之屬皆從人。(如鄰切。) 人 [Man] the worthiest of all beings between Heaven and Earth. This is the Large Seal style character depicting of a man with arms and legs. All things related to "man" are written with the radical 人. (Pronounced /ȵʑ-i̯ĕn/.)
302.1. 【
【老】考也。七十曰老。從人、毛、匕,言鬚髮變白也。凡老之屬皆從老。(盧皓切。) 老 [Old] (/lɑu/) means "aged". Seventy years is old. The character is composed of the characters "man" 人, "hair" 毛 and "change" 匕, saying that beard and hair have become white. All things related to "old age" are written with the radical 老 [e.g. 耆 "auld", 壽 "long life", 孝 "obedient towards the elder"]. (Pronounced /l-ɑu/.)
302.2. 【
【考】老也。從老省、ㄎ聲。(苦浩切。) 考 [Aged] (/kʰɑu/) means "old". The character is composed of abridged 老 "old" and the phonetic 丂 (kǎo). (Pronounced /kʰ-ɑu/.)
480.1. 【
【土】地之吐生物者也。二象地之下,地之中物出形也。凡土之屬皆從土。(它魯切。) 土 [Soil] is what the earth produces of living creatures. The two horizontal strokes depict the surface of the soil and what is below, [and the vertical stroke] depicts what comes out of the earth. All things related to "earth" are writteh with the radical 土. (Pronounced /tʰ-uo/.)
480.2. 【】 【
【地】元氣初分輕清陽為天,重濁陰為地。萬物所陳列也。從土、也聲。(徒內切。)【𡒰】籀文地,從䧘。 地 [Earth] (/dʱi/) means, the primordial spirit in the beginning divided light, clear and bright things in the shape of Heaven from heavy, muddy and dark things symbolizing Earth. [Earth] is how the ten thousand beings are arranged. The character is composed of "soil" and the phonetic 也 (/jia/) [Note: it seems rather that the word "uterus" 也 has to be taken literally - the earth as a producer of things -, rather than phonetically]. (Pronounced /dʱ-i/.) 𡒰 is a Large Seal style character for 地, derived from 䧘.
513.1. 【】 【
【甲】東方之孟陽氣萌動,從木戴孚甲之象。一曰:人頭空為甲。甲象人頭。凡甲之屬皆從甲。(古狎切。)【𠇚】古文甲,始於十,見於千,成於木之象。 甲 [Shield, or the first of the Celestial Stems] means, when the young sunrays from the east imbue the sprouts, they begin to move. The character depicts a wooden handle headed with a hard shield. One author says, that hollow skulls of humans were the used as shields, the character depicting a man's head. All things related to "shield" are written with the radical 甲 [note: there are actually no derivative characters]. (Pronounced /k-ap/.) 𠇚 is an old-style character for 甲, symbolizing the beginning with ten, apparearance with thousand, and completed in a tree. [Duan Yucai comments: should read "[sprouts] begin at the bottom/below the surface of the earth (下, i.e. also the lower part of the character), become apparent ontop (上) of it (i.e. the upper part), and are completed as full-grown plants."]
525.1. 【】 【】 【
【子】十一月陽氣動萬物,滋人以為偁。象形。凡子之屬皆從子。李陽冰曰:子在中足併也。(即里切。)【㜽】古文子,從川象髮也。【𢀈】籀文子,囟有髮臂脛在几上也。 子 [Son, or the first of the Terrestrial Branches] means, in the eleventh month, the yang spirit moves the ten thousand beings, nourishing man to full accordance with nature. The character is a picture (of a child). All things related to "child" are written with the radical 子 [e.g. 孕 "pregnant", 字 "to raise a child", 孺 "infant", 季 "youngest child", 孟 "oldest child", 孤 "orphan", 存 "to care for",...]. Li Yangbing says: It depicts a baby in its diapers, the feet side by side. (Pronounced /ts-i/.) 㜽 is an old-style character for 子, three strokes depicting the hair. 𢀈 is the Large Seal Script character, the fontanel having hair, arms and legs and lying on a small table.

Xu Shen's analysis is enormeously helpful for understanding the history of Chinese characters and the original meaning of them. Without his providing the seal script shape and its analysis, it would not be possible to really perceive the acutal meaning of a lot of characters, because the modern chancery script shape is often simplified and does not reveal the origional shape, like 夜 "night", derived from 夕 "evening", 亦, derived from a standing person 大, or 春 "spring", which is a composition of 艸 "grass", 日 "sun" and 屯 "sprout". The Shuowen jiezi served as a model for all later character dictionaries based on an arrangement of the characters according to radicals.

Unfortunatley the Shuowen jiezi has suffered from an unhappy history of transmission. The Tang period scholar 唐 (618-907) Li Yangbing 李陽冰 edited the Shuowen after he had made a lot of amendings concerning the small seal script of the lemmas. He also added his own commentary, which was, according to testimony of later scholars, very unreliable and unscholarly. It was only during the Five Dynasties period 五代 (907-960) that the brothers Xu Xuan 徐鉉 and Xu Kai 徐鍇 from the state of Southern Tang 南唐 (937-975) started recovering the ancient text of the Shuowen jiezi. Xu Kai published it with his own commentary in the 40 juan "scrolls" long Shuowen jiezi xichuan 說文解字繫傳.

Figure 4. Beginning of the Shuowen jiezi xichuan
Beginning of the Shuowen jiezi xichuan, Sibu congkan 四部叢刊 edition, reproducing a combination of a Song period manuscript from the collection of the family Zhang 張氏 in Wucheng 烏程, Jiangsu (Shugutang Studio 述古堂), and a Song period print from the collection of the family Qu 瞿氏 in Guli 古里 close to Changshu 常熟, Jiangsu. Click to enlarge.

Xu Xuan became a subject of the Song dynasty 宋 (960-1279) and presented his own, much shorter, commentary to the Shuowen jiezi, to the Song court. He had eliminated the errors by Li Yangbing and added a pronunciation guide according to the fanqie system 反切 used in Sun Mian's 孫愐 character dictionary Tangyun 唐韻 from the Tang period, and some notes to a part of the characters. He divided each of the 15 original chapters into two half-chapters. It was also he who added the new characters to the text which appear in ancient writings, especially such from the Han period, but which were missing in the original Shuowen jiezi.

Xu Xuan's imperially acknowledged version (also called Da-Xu ben 大徐本 "Version of the older Xu") was printed, as well as the version of his brother (the Xiao-Xu ben 小徐本 "Version of the younger Xu"). The first is included in the collectanea Sibu congkan 四部叢刊. The original print from the Song period was owned by the Jiguge Studio 汲古閣, later by Lu Xinyuan 陸心源, and now by the Seikadō Library 静嘉堂文库 in Tokyo. It has also been included in Sun Xingyan's 孫星衍 collectanea Pingjinguan congshu 平津館叢書. This version has been reprinted several times and is very widespread. A manuscript version from the Shugutang Studio 述古堂 of Xu Kai's Shuowen jiezi xichuan has been reprinted in the collectanea Sibu congkan. It has also been printed by the Qing period publisher Qi Guizao 祁嶲藻.

There is a Tang period manuscript preserved, but only in a very small fragment of 188 characters from the section of the radical 木 "tree". It has been commented and published by the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) scholar Mo Youzhi 莫友芝 with the title of Tang xieben Shuowen jiezi mubu jianyi 唐寫本說文解字木部箋異. The original is now kept in the Kyō'u shōku Library 杏雨書屋 in Osaka. Another fragment from the section of the radical 口 "mouth" is a manuscript written in Japan.

Xu Kai also wrote an index to the Shuowen jiezi, the Shuowen jiezi yunpu 說文解字韻譜, in which the characters are arranged according to the rhyme system valid since the Tang period. The index has later been amended by Xu Xuan. The Southern Song period 南宋 (1127-1279) scholar Li Tao 李燾 has written another index, Shuowen jiezi wuyi yunpu 說文解字五音韻譜, which is geared to the Song period rhyme system, which has less rhyme groups than that of the Tang period. All three books have been printed.

The corpus of Qing period studies on the Shuowen jiezi is quite vast. It has attracted the attention of scholars of all fields, from paleographers and phonologists to botanists. The most important studes and commentaries are Duan Yucai's 段玉裁 Shuowen jiezi zhu 說文解字注, Gui Fu's 桂馥 Shuowen jiezi yizheng 說文解字義證, Wang Yun's 王筠 Shuowen judu 說文句讀, and Zhu Junsheng's 朱駿聲 Shuowen tongxun dingsheng 說文通訓定聲.

The book of Duan Yucai is a very detailed analysis of the whole text of the Shuowen jiezi. He quotes a lot of ancient literature in his analysis of the meaning Xu Shen has attributed to the character, in order to trace the expansion of the original meaning of the character. This was often done by borrowing the character for another word. Duan also tries to establish the original pronunciation of the character. In spite of some errors, the Shuowen jiezi zhu is an excellent early modern standard commentary.

The book by Gui Fu is in first case a source book providing a lot of material from original sources supporting or contradicting the analysis of Xu Shen. Of secondary importance is Gui's analysis of the main text and of the commentaries of the Xu brothers.

The book of Wang Yun has been compiled as an extract of the large works of Duan and Gui, to make it easier for the reader to deal with the large amount of material. Wang has also made some corrections to the text. He has also written the Shuowen shili 說文釋例, an analysis of the basic guidelines with which the Shuowen had been written.

Zhu Junsheng arranged the characters according to rhyme groups. He analyses the original text of Xu Shen and the particular parts of the characters, the exended meaning (while Xu Shen only provides the original meaning of the character) and for which words the character is borrowed. Zhu also adds some more characters from Han and Wei period 曹魏 (220-265) sources not included in the Shuowen jiezi text.

In 1928 Ding Fubao 丁福保 published a compilation of all previous commentaries to the Shuowen in a large, eight volume (modern reprints have even more volumes) edition called Shuowen jiezi gulin 說文解字詁林. The commentaries are assembled according to the characters, so that it is very easy to see all comments under one single heading.

Table 3. Radicals of the Shuowen jiezi
1 one, origin
2 丄 (上) shàng high above
3 shì religious matters, what Heaven sends down
4 sān trinity of Heaven, Earth and Man
5 wáng king, the one towards whom all people hurry
6 jade
7 jué double jade
8 cloudy or misty air
9 shì servant, minister
10 gǔn penetrating vertically
11 chè sprout
12 cǎo grass, herbaceous plants
13 perennial plants
14 mǎng thicket
15 xiǎo small
16 to separate, number eight
17 biàn to distinguish
18 bàn things divided in the middle
19 niú cattle
20 máo Tibetan yak
21 gào to mark a dangerous bull
22 kǒu mouth
23 kǎn a mouth is opened widely
24 xuān to shout in alarm
25 to weep
26 𡗱 (走) zǒu to walk
27 zhǐ base
28 blocked feet (note: top position)
29 to go
30 to stop
31 zhèng correct
32 shì direct
33 chuò going once, and halting once
34 chì small step
35 yìn to walk a long distance
36 chān to walk hesitatingly
37 xíng to walk
38 chǐ teeth
39 molar teeth
40 foot
41 shū foot
42 pǐn masses, manifold
43 yuè flute
44 𠕋 written order
45 many mouths
46 shé tongue
47 gān to violate
48 𧮫 jué roof of the mouth
49 zhī filling word of speech
50 clumsy speech
51 𠯶 (句) gōu to bend, a hook
52 jiū to intertwine
53 ancient times
54 shí the full number, ten
55 thirty
56 yán to speak directly
57 jìng to quarrel
58 yīn tone, sound
59 qiān crime, fault
60 zhuó densely growing grass
61 petty and mulitudineous
62 𠬞 (廾) gǒng to fold one's hands
63 𠬜 (大) pān to pull (note: bottom position)
64 gòng together
65 separate, different
66 to lift jointly
67 𦥑 to fold hands
68 chén early morning
69 cuàn to cook (dialect of the region of Qi)
70 processed animal skin
71 a kind of tripod
72 cooking pot
73 zhǎo to grasp
74 to hold
75 dòu to engage with weapons
76 yòu (right) hand
77 𠂇 zuǒ left hand
78 shǐ official scribe
79 zhī to strip off leaves from bamboo twigs
80 𦘒 niè the skills of the hand
81 writing tool
82 huà defined borderline
83 to reach and catch
84 qiān solid
85 chén entrusted with an official task, a minister
86 shū to separate persons with a spear
87 shā to kill
88 𠘧 shū the appearance of short-feathered birds flying
89 cùn length unit, ten fen
90 animal skin
91 ruǎn tanned leather
92 slight beat
93 jiào to instruct and to imitate
94 divination crack on turtle plastron
95 yòng do-able
96 yáo to exchange
97 to exchange several times
98 𡕥 xuè to lift the eye, to give instructions
99 eye
100 to see with both eyes
101 méi eyebrow
102 dùn shield
103 nose
104 (!) nose
105 to breathe
106 two hundred
107 a flock of birds flying
108 wing feathers
109 zhuī short-tailed bird
110 xùn a long-winged bird raises
111 huán a type of kite or owl
112 𠁥 guǎi goat horns
113 an abnormal eye
114 yáng goat, sheep
115 shān a goat's smell
116 the frightening sight of falcons
117 chóu a pair of birds
118 a flock of birds
119 diǎo a long-tailed bird
120 a bird respectful towards its progenitors, a crow
121 𠦒 bān a kind of basket
122 gòu to exchange and accumulate materials
123 yāo small, young
124 𢆶 yōu minuscule
125 zhuān attentive and prudent
126 xuán dark and far away
127 to present to sbd.
128 fàng to get rid of sth.
129 𠬪 biào to move downwards
130 𣦼 cán to cut, to split
131 è bone residuals after cutting off the meat
132 to expire, to die
133 guǎ to cut off a man's flesh and store his bones
134 bones
135 ròu a large piece of meat
136 jīn the power of flesh, muscles
137 dāo weapon, sword
138 rèn blade
139 to incise skilfully
140 jiè densely growing grass
141 lěi the curved beam of a hand plow
142 jué horn of an animal
143 zhú winter-resistant grass, bamboo
144 winnowing basket
145 base, stand of objects
146 zuǒ to help with one's own hands
147 gōng skilled, craftsman
148 zhǎn intelligent, skilled and heedful
149 to invoke spirits
150 gān good taste
151 yuē speech, particle indicating speech
152 nǎi to speak with difficulty
153 kǎo breath is going to be exhalated
154 to allow
155 speech is halting
156 hào to cry for pain
157 亏 (于) kuī same as 於 (crow, later a prepositional verb)
158 zhǐ excellent taste
159 joyful
160 zhù to arrange musical instruments
161 drum
162 music to welcome victorious troops returning
163 dòu a kind of vessel for cooking meat
164 a ritual vessel
165 fēng a cooking vessel full of meat
166 an old type of ceramic vessel
167 biāo a tiger pattern
168 the lord of mountain animals, tiger
169 yán a tiger in rage
170 mǐn a dish
171 a dish made of willow twigs
172 to leave each other
173 xiě animal blood offered in a sacrifice
174 zhǔ dot, a stoppage marker
175 dān a red mineral from the southern regions
176 qīng the colour of the east, green
177 jǐng the field compartments of eight families, a vessel for water-drawing
178 the odour of grain
179 chàng to brew black millet and fragrant herbs to gain sacrificial wine
180 shí to bring grain together
181 three persons assembled
182 huì to conjoin
183 cāng granary
184 to enter
185 fǒu ceramic pot
186 shǐ arrow or bolt
187 gāo lofty
188 jiōng the far wildneress
189 𩫖 (享) guō residence
190 jīng artificial hill
191 xiǎng to present
192 hòu thick, valued
193 full
194 lǐn granary
195 to care for
196 lái a kind of ominous grain
197 mài grain with awns
198 suī to walk slowly, dragging a leg (note: bottom position)
199 chuǎn to lie side by side
200 䑞 (舜) shùn a kind of herb
201 wéi back against back
202 to envelop things in a certain sequence
203 zhǐ to arrive from the rear (note: top position)
204 jiǔ to back something from behind
205 jié to dismember a man
206 to cover, tree
207 dōng to move, the east
208 lín forest
209 cái shoot of a tree
210 ruò a miraculous tree that comes out at dawn, mulberry
211 zhī to grow, to come out
212 to encircle
213 chū to advance
214 𣎵 (巿) luxuriant trees and bushes
215 shēng to grow
216 zhé leaves
217 𠂹 chuí inflorescence
218 𠌶 huā flower
219 huá blossoming, richly flowering
220 𥝌 bent top of a tree
221 to rest
222 cháo bird's nest
223 sap of a tree
224 shù to bind
225 hùn to tie to a bundle
226 wéi encirclement
227 yuán a certain number of sth.
228 bèi shell
229 polity, state
230 𨛜 xiàng lane, street
231 fruit, fulfilment, the sun
232 dàn dawn
233 gàn the morning sun
234 yǎn weaving streamers
235 míng dark
236 jīng brilliant
237 yuè a lack of sth., the moon
238 yǒu what should better not occur
239 míng bright
240 jiǒng interlocking windows illuminate the room
241 evening
242 duō endless repetition
243 guàn to penetrate and lock together
244 𢎘 hàn to include firmly
245 𣐺 hàn flowers and fruits hanging down
246 𠧪 tiáo ripe fruits hanging down
247 the ears of grain leveled on the same height
248 thorns of a tree
249 piàn half a trunk, split wood
250 dǐng a tripod with earhandles
251 to shoulder
252 to split wood
253 grain plant
254 rare and suitable
255 shǔ glutinous millet
256 xiāng fragrant herbs
257 the fruit of grain
258 huǐ to bruise grain
259 jiù mortar
260 xiōng bad omen
261 pìn the skin of hemp stalks
262 𣏟 pài general term for hemp
263 hemp
264 shú bean
265 duān the tip of sprouts
266 jiǔ leek
267 guā melon, gourd, cucumber
268 calabash
269 mián roofs mutually covering
270 gōng large building
271 dorsal spine
272 xué cave dwelling
273 㝱 (夢) mèng to dream
274 to lay down, to be sick
275 cover
276 𠔼 mǎo double cover
277 mào head scarf worn by children and the southern barbarians
278 liǎng again, two times
279 wǎng fishing net
280 cover, envelope
281 jīn silken girdle
282 巿 knee cover, apron
283 silken cloth
284 bái colour of the west, white
285 worn-out clothes
286 zhǐ embroidered cloth
287 rén the worthiest being on earth, man
288 𠤎 huà to change
289 to compare
290 cóng to obey, to follow
291 near, close
292 běi to turn away from sby., north
293 qiū natural hill
294 㐺 (众) yín several persons standing together
295 tǐng (!) good
296 zhòng thick, heavy
297 to rest
298 shēn the body
299 yǐn to rely on sth.
300 to rely on, clothes
301 qiú leather clothes
302 lǎo an old person
303 máo hair of any kind
304 cuì thin hair of animals
305 shī to exhibit, body
306 chǐ ten inches
307 wěi small, tail
308 footwear
309 zhōu boat, ship
310 fāng boats tied together
311 a man of a kind sense
312 xiōng the older brother
313 zān hairpin
314 mào appearance
315 𠑹 blocked and hidden
316 xiān to be the first
317 禿 no hair, bold
318 jiàn to see, to look
319 yào to look at each other
320 qiàn to open the mouth wide and let breath coming out
321 㱃 (飲) yǐn to drink
322 xián saliva is dripping out of the mouth
323 the gullet is obstructed
324 head
325 𦣻 shǒu head
326 𡇢 (面) miàn face
327 miǎn not able to see
328 𩠐 (首) shǒu head
329 𥄉 jiāo a turned head hanging down
330 facial hair, beard
331 xiǎn hair, decoration of paintings, or patterns
332 wén coloured pattern
333 wén crossing pattern
334 biāo long hair hanging down
335 hòu heir of a ruler
336 official outside the court
337 zhī wine jar
338 jié seal
339 yìn seal of the ruler
340 colour or mood on the face
341 𠨍 qīng a system of acting in duty
342 a standard, a rule
343 bāo to embrace, to hold
344 bāo a pregnant woman
345 to alert, to admonish oneself
346 guǐ what a man turn to in the end, a ghost
347 head of a ghost
348 intrigant, evil
349 wéi high, but not even
350 shān to exalt, a mountain
351 shēn two mountains
352 àn a high cliff
353 广 ān house with a high roof structure
354 hàn mountain cliff shielding houses
355 wán round objects
356 wēi to stand on a high point and be frightened
357 shí mountain stone
358 𨱗 (長) cháng long and far away
359 banner of a province
360 冄 (冉) rǎn hair hanging down
361 ér beard
362 shǐ pig
363 wild animal with long hair
364 a pig's head
365 tún piglet
366 zhì marten and similar animals with a long body
367 𤉡 grey-haired water buffalo
368 lizard
369 xiàng elephant
370 martial animal, horse
371 zhì wild buffalo with one horn
372 鹿 deer
373 travelling far
374 chuò hare-like animal with grey hair
375 hare, rabbit
376 huán mountain goat with small horns
377 quǎn dog, hound
378 yín quarreling dogs
379 shǔ animals living in holes, rats
380 néng a kind of bear
381 xióng bear
382 huǒ to destroy, fire
383 yán a fire's brightness is raising high
384 𪐗 (黑) hēi colour of soot, black
385 cōng roof window
386 yàn sparks
387 zhì to roast meat
388 𤆍 (赤) chì colour of the south, red
389 tài great (note: top position)
390 a man's armpit
391 a bent head
392 yāo bent, twisted
393 jiāo crossed legs
394 wāng a bent leg
395 a round vessel
396 𡕍 (壹) non-leaking can
397 㚔 (幸) xìng an instrument to intimidate people
398 shē to broaden, to extent
399 kàng the neck
400 𠦍 (夲) běn to hasten forward
401 gǎo to release
402 same as 大 (note: bottom position)
403 husband
404 𡗓 (立) to stand
405 竝 (幷) bìng to stand side by side
406 xìn fontanelle of the cranium
407 恖 (思) to embrace thoughts
408 xīn the heart
409 suǒ doubts, thoughts
410 shuǐ level, water
411 zhuǐ two waters
412 𩕨 (瀕) bīn the bank of a river
413 quǎn small creek flowing
414 kuài the sound of gurgling water
415 巛 (川) chuān broadly streaming water
416 quán a source
417 xún three sources
418 eternally flowing
419 𠂢 pài side branch of a river
420 river valley
421 仌 (冫) bīng frozen
422 rain
423 yún the exhalation of mountains and rivers, clouds
424 𤉯 (魚) fish
425 𩺰 two fishes
426 㷼 (燕) yàn a black bird, swallow
427 lóng the master of the scaly animals, dragon
428 fēi to fly
429 fēi to oppose
430 xùn to fly quickly
431 a black bird, swallow
432 𠀚 (不) a bird flies high and does not come back
433 𦤴 (至) zhì a bird arriving at the ground
434 㢴 (西) a bird's nest, west
435 a salt-producing region in the west
436 yán salt
437 to cover, house
438 mén where news are heard, door
439 ěr the ear
440 𦣝 cheeks and chin
441 fist, hand
442 𠦬 guāi the dorsal spine
443 the one going to where she belongs, wife, daughter
444 to stop sbdy.
445 mín to sprout in masses, the people
446 丿 piě brush stroke from the right
447 𠂆 a vertical stroke pulled away, clear
448 to move
449 zhī a mountain cliff breaking down
450 to reach, to arrive
451 halberd
452 yuè axe
453 I, me
454 jué hook, reversal
455 qín to halt the improper by music, a zither
456 yǐn to cover, to hide
457 亾 (亡) wáng to escape, to leave, to die
458 to stand inclined to one side
459 fāng a container vessel
460 𠚖 (曲) a container
461 a mug (dialect word)
462 earthenware, ceramics, tile
463 gōng to reach that far away, a bow
464 jiàng strong
465 xián a bowstring
466 to tie together
467 a thin thread
468 white, uncoloured silk
469 raw silk
470 shuài net of a bird-catcher
471 huǐ worm, insect
472 kūn insects and worms
473 chóng crawling animals
474 fēng wind
475 snake
476 guī an old animal, turtle
477 mǐn frog
478 luǎn egg
479 èr double, two
480 earth, soil
481 yáo high spot of earth
482 jǐn loamy soil
483 living place, village
484 tián to spread out, field
485 jiāng neighbouring fields
486 huáng the colour of the soil, yellow
487 nán husband, man
488 muscle, power, force
489 xié joint forces
490 jīn metal
491 jiān even, leveled
492 sháo to ladle
493 to squat, a low table
494 qiě to put down, a dish
495 jīn to cut trees, an axe
496 dǒu ten sheng (litres), a volume measure
497 máo a long spear
498 chē a cart, a vehicle
499 𠂤 duī a small mound
500 𨸏 (阜) a flat earthen hill
501 𨺅 between two hills
502 lěi a piled-up earthen wall
503 the yin number, four
504 zhù to store things separately
505 jué to intertwine
506 bad, ugly
507 the five processes
508 liù the changing number of the Book of Changes, six
509 the correct yang number, seven
510 jiǔ the change of the yang, nine
511 厹 (禸) róu the foot of an animal treads upon the earth
512 cattle, beast, animal
513 jiǎ in spring, buds open their outer shell, armour, crust, first of the Celestial Stems
514 sprouts coming out of the earth, second of the Celestial Stems
515 bǐng brilliance in spring, third of the Celestial Stems
516 dīng plants are growing in summer, fourth of the Celestial Stems
517 moving towards the centre of the year, fifth of the Celestial Stems
518 the fruits are moved towards the granaries, sixth of the Celestial Stems
519 a snake
520 gēng ripe fruits in autumn, seventh of the Celestial Stems
521 xīn penetrating flavour of autumn, eighth of the Celestial Stems
522 biàn plaintiff and defendant
523 rén pregnant, full of fruits, ninth of the Celestial Stems
524 guǐ to survey barren fields, tenth of the Celestial Stems
525 rich fruits, son, children, first of the Terrestrial Branches
526 liǎo to cross legs while walking
527 zhuǎn to take care
528 𠫓 unexpected disobedience
529 chǒu to knot, nature is impeded in winter, second of the Terrestrial Branches
530 yín the yang spirit is driven down to the Yellow Sources, third of the Terrestrial Branches
531 戼 (卯) to penetrate the earth in spring, fourth of the Terrestrial Branches
532 chén to shake the earth, fifth of the Terrestrial Branches
533 yang has come out, while yin is bent down, sixth of the Terrestrial Branches
534 yin is reverting against yang in autumn, seventh of the Terrestrial Branches
535 wèi full flavour, eighth of the Terrestrial Branches
536 𦥔 (申) shēn the yin spirit is reaching out again, ninth of the Terrestrial Branches
537 yǒu the fruits have reached ripeness, tenth of the Terrestrial Branches
538 qiú a long brewery process
539 to extinguish the yang spirit, eleventh of the Terrestrial Branches
540 hài the yang spirit has gone down to the roots, twelfth of the Terrestrial Branches
Source:
Zhou Zumo 周祖谟 (1988). "Shuowen jiezi 說文解字", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Yuyan wenzi 語言•文字 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), 367.