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Radical repeating characters in Chinese


All Chinese characters are made up of radicals, and there are no particular rules about which radicals can be put together, or how many times.

Quite a few Chinese characters just repeat the same radical twice. 朋 (péng) and 林 (lín) are pretty common examples.

Radical reduplication can go up to three or even four repetitions of the same component, though.

Here’s a (probably incomplete) list of radical repeating characters, known as 叠字 (diézì) in Chinese. Note that although this article is in the Mandarin category, these characters are also used in other Chinese languages and Japanese.

The list is organised subjectively by how much sense each item makes.

The Chinese Peraperakun plugin for Firefox and Chrome would be useful for reading this list.

双叠字: Double characters

  • 百 → 皕
    • 2 × hundred → two hundred (funnily enough)
  • 斤 → 斦
    • 2 × catty → two catties (…)
  • 喜 → 囍
    • 2 × happiness → double happiness
  • 子 → 孖
    • 2 × child → twins
  • 木 → 林
    • 2 × tree → woods
  • 日 → 昍
    • 2 × sun → bright (variant of 明)
  • 火 → 炎
    • 2 × fire → flame
  • 口 → 吅
    • 2 × mouth → to argue
  • 口 → 吕
    • 2 × mouth → lu (one of the notes in Chinese music)
  • 女 → 奻
    • 2 × woman → bicker
  • 又 → 双
    • 2 × again → pair
  • 王 → 玨
    • 2 × king → gems mounted together
  • 人 → 从
    • 2 × person → from
  • 克 → 兢
    • 2 × subdue → fearful
  • 大 → 夶
    • 2 × big → compare (variant of 比)
  • 厶 → 厸
    • 2 × selfish → neighbour (variant of 鄰)
  • 月 → 朋
    • 2 × moon → friend

三叠字: Triple characters

Also known as 品字型汉字

  • 人 → 众
    • 3 × person → crowd
  • 石 → 磊
    • 3 × stone → pile of rocks
  • 大 → 𡘙
  • 隹 → 雥 (zá)
    • 3 × bird → flock of birds
  • 马 → 骉 / 馬 → 驫
    • 3 × horse → horde of horses
  • 泉 → 灥
    • 3 × spring → group of springs (water)
  • 田 → 畾
    • 3 × fields → separated fields
  • 香 → 馫 (xīn)
    • 3 × fragrant → aromatic (variant of 馨)
  • 金 → 鑫
    • 3 × gold → prosperity
  • 木 → 森
    • 3 × tree → forest
  • 白 → 皛 (xiǎo)
    • 3 × white → bright
  • 火 → 焱
    • 3 × fire → flame
  • 雷 → 靐 (bìng)
    • 3 × thunder → sound of thunder
  • 舌 → 舙 (huà)
    • 3 × tongue → speech (variant of 話)
  • 屮 → 芔
    • 3 × sprouting plant → plants
  • 虫 → 蟲
    • 3 × insect → insect (these are simplified / traditional versions)
  • 水 → 淼
    • 3 × water → flood
  • 手 → 掱
    • 3 × hand → pickpocket
  • 耳 → 聶
    • 3 × ear → whisper
  • 士 → 壵 (zhuàng)
    • 3 × warrior → strength
  • 目 → 瞐 (mò)
    • 3 × eye → beauty
  • 子 → 孨 (zhuǎn)
    • 3 × child → weak
  • 羊 → 羴 (shān)
    • 3 × sheep → stench
  • 力 → 劦
    • 3 × strength → endless exertion
  • 直 → 矗
    • 3 × vertical → upright
  • 言 → 譶 (tà)
    • 3 × speech → speak quickly
  • 魚 → 鱻 (xiǎn)
    • 3 × fish → fresh (variant of 鮮)
  • 龍 → 龘
    • 3 × dragon → flying dragon
  • 心 → 惢 (suǒ)
    • 4 × heart→ virtuous
  • 贝 → 赑 / 貝 → 贔 (bì)
    • 3 × shell → sturdy
  • 風 → 飍 (xiū)
    • 3 × wind → cowardly
  • 又 → 叒 (ruò)
    • 3 × again → seem (variant of 若)
  • 古 → 嚞 (zhé)
    • 3 × old → break (variant of 哲)
  • 牛 → 犇
    • 3 × cow → rush around
  • 女 → 姦
    • 3 × woman → treachery
  • 車 → 轟
    • 3 × car → explosion
  • 犬 → 猋
    • 3 × dog → whirlwind
  • 止 → 歮
    • 3 × stop → rough
  • 日 → 晶
    • 3 × sun → crystal
  • 口 → 品
    • 3 × mouth → item
  • 毛 → 毳
    • 3 × hair → crisp
  • 土 → 垚
    • 3 × earth → Yao (legendary emperor)
  • 厶 → 厽 (sēn)
    • 3 × selfish → rampart (variant of 垒)
  • 刀 → 刕 (Lí)
    • 3 × blade → Li (a Chinese surname)

四叠字: Quadruple characters

  • 小 → 尛 (mó)
    • 4 × small → tiny
  • 屮 → 茻 (mǎng)
    • 3 × sprouting plant → dense grass
  • 飛 → 飝 (fēi)
    • 4 × fly → fly
  • 火 → 燚 (yì)
    • 4 × fire→ fiery
  • 月 → 朤 (lǎng)
    • 4 × moon → bright (variant of 郎)
  • 隹 → 雦 (chóu)
    • 4 × bird→ gather
  • 又 → 叕 (zhuó)
    • 4 × again → stitch together

Download this list of characters:

Be sure to set character encoding to UTF-8 to view these files correctly.

Related books:


  • K書窩

    An interesting addition would be simplified (1) -> traditional (2), e.g. 竞 -> 競

    • http://eastasiastudent.net East Asia Student

      Yeah, I did come across a few like that. 虫 / 蟲 is another example.

  • Kaiwen

    Some of the reduplications you have listed as quadruple only come out as triples for me, notably the multiples of 小, 飞, and 隹. My character encoding is set to UTF-8, using Firefox 3.6.13. Maybe I don’t have the right font.

    • http://eastasiastudent.net Hugh Grigg (East Asia Student)

      That’s strange. It is set to UTF-8, and I’m using 3.6.13 as well. They’re displaying as quadruples for me. I think you’re right, it’s most likely the font. A lot of the fonts don’t have the entire UTF-8 set, and resort to a default for characters that aren’t available.

  • Zhui Miao

    does anyone know how which IME can be used for certain horizontal tripled radical characters. My surname “Zhui” I actually found on Baidu as being an archaic character referring to either infinity or a vast body of water. (Three horizontally adjacent water radicals) When I go back to China I wanted to eventually naturalize under this name. Its similar to the stacked triple “Miao”, which is my given name, but the meaning is slightly different. The best translation in contemporary hanyu would be to take the characters “bo” (vast; wide) and “yang” (ocean). I came across this character using my iPhone once and checked it out on Baidu when my Pleco dictionary app displayed it, but after resetting my phone once I can’t bring seem to it up again anywhere.

  • Anonymous

    咻好像三十七月丨尝幽默豒

    • http://eastasiastudent.net/about Hugh Grigg

      什么意思?我完全不懂!

  • David_LloydJones

    Ollie,

    The one you have at the top, da4 in Chinese, is “triple dragon” according to MDBG. Its Japanese pronunciation is do1, and I seem to remember it as having the most strokes, 48, of anything in my ancient Nelson dictionary 40 years ago. The meaning given was “dragons moving,” and I used to own a necktie with it as the pattern.

    -dlj.