Chinese symbols and meanings

Chinese Symbol Meanings

Here's a brief summary of some Chinese symbols and their meanings. This is definitely not an exhaustive list.


Chinese Symbols for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Here are the Chinese symbols for:
  • Crouching: 臥
  • Tiger: 虎
  • Hidden: 藏
  • Dragon: 龍

And if you like the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, now you know how it is written in Chinese: 臥虎藏龍.

Chinese Symbols with Positive Connotations

When I first starting learning to write Chinese symbols, I'd focus on learning characters that had special meanings to me. So for example, I like the ideas of happiness, family, laughter, love. And so I learned the Chinese symbols for each of those. Note there are many Chinese symbols for each of these meanings. These are just a selection of Chinese symbols and their meanings:

Note there are many Chinese symbols for each of these meanings. These are just a selection of Chinese symbols with positive meanings:

  • Happiness: 樂 (This also means music)
  • Family: 家 (Also means home)
  • Laughter: 笑  (interestingly, the Chinese symbols that mean smile are 微笑 or slight laughter)
  • Love: 愛.

Some people like the idea of peace and harmony. There are more than a few Chinese symbols that have this meaning. Here are two:

  • Harmony: 和,
  • Peace: 平

The latter of those two symbols, 平 was one of the first characters I learned in a calligraphy class, and it's one of the first times that I thought to break a Chinese character down into component parts to make learning it easier.

This was even though it only has 5 strokes!

Chinese Symbols for Animals

Chinese symbols for animals are numerous. Some basic ones which are also radicals include:

Badger: 豸

Bird: 鳥

Short-tailed Bird: 隹

Cow: 牛

Deer: 鹿

Dog: 犬

Fish: 魚

Frog: 黽

Goat, Sheep: 羊

Horse: 馬

Pig: 豕

Rat: 鼠

Turtle: 龜

Chinese Symbols for Body Parts

Here are some Chinese symbols for body parts (including the Chinese Symbol that means Body):

Eye: 目

Ear: 耳

Nose: 鼻

Mouth: 口

Tongue: 舌

Teeth: 齒

Hand: 手

Heart: 心

Blood: 血

Bone: 骨

Body: 身

Chinese Symbols for Tools and Implements

These Chinese Symbols represent implements, including weapons:

Tripod: 鼎

Weapon: 殳

Dish: 皿

Spoon: 匕

Axe:  斤

Mortar: 臼

Knife: 刀

Bow: 弓

Spear: 矛

Arrow: 矢

Jar: 缶

Halberd: 戈

Brush: 聿

Cauldron: 鬲

Chinese Symbols for Numbers

Basic Numbers are shown below with their Chinese Symbol Equivalents:

1: 一

2: 二

3: 三

4: 四

5: 五

6: 六

7: 七

8: 八

9: 九

10: 十

100: 百

1000: 千

10000: 萬

The Easy Lookup System

To get a taste of using the Easy Lookup System, all the Chinese symbols on this page are indexed below using the Easy Lookup System.

囗 Box: 四口黽目鼎 (Four, mouth, frog, eye, tripod)

⺆ Cover: 殳皿骨 (Weapon, bowl, bone)

凵 Bottom: 匕 (Spoon)

厂 Left Corner: 斤臥馬臼鼠 (Axe, crouch, horse, mortar, mouse)

乛 Right Corner: 刀弓矛 (Knife, bow, spear)

丿 Slant: 矢缶笑魚龜牛隹千舌手和愛豸 (Arrow, pottery, laugh, fish, tortoise, cow, short-tailed bird, one thousand, tongue, hand, peace, love, badger)

丶 Dot: 心戈犬鳥鼻身血家鹿六龍 (Heart, halberd, dog, bird, nose, body, blood, family, deer, six, dragon)

𠄌 Hook: 樂 (happyness/music)

八 Hat: 八羊藏萬 (Eight, goat/sheep, hidden, ten-thousand)

十 Cross: 十七九聿 (Ten, seven, nine, brush)

丨 Vertical: 虎齒 (Tiger, tooth)

一 Horizontal: 一二三鬲五百豕平耳 (One, two, three, cauldron, five, one-hundred, pig, peace, ear)

For a dictionary of over 6000 Chinese symbols indexed using the Easy Lookup system check out the Easy Lookup Chinese Character Dictionary.