Table of Contents
In the Cangjie Dictionary, Chinese Characters are sorted alphabetically via their cangjie typing codes.
While the initial intent of this dictionary was to make it easy to look up a characters Cangjie typing code, (basically a code that allows you to “touch type” a Chinese character) I’ve found that it also serves as an easy and quick way to look up characters in general.
The dictionary includes
- a Cangjie index where characters are sorted by cangjie code and shape.
- a Phonetic index where characters are sorted alphabetically by their pinyin pronounciation. The phonetic index entries also include Yale (Y), Zhuyin (ZH) and Gwoyeuh Romatzyh (GR) Phonetics for easy reference. (The GR phonetics can be especially helpful as a pronounciation guide.)
Here’s a look at all the top level groupings for characters listed alphabetically. You’ll also find that sub groupings (based on the other elements of the character) are sorted via their cangjie codes also.
Cangjie Dictionary Example Entry
Dictionary entries look like this:
Each entry includes: a heading and an information box.
The heading includes:
- the cangjie letter codes and traditional(鍥) version of the character
The information box contains:
- Tradtional and simplified (锲) character along with pronounciation using pinyin (qieˋ),
- The cangjie letter and symbol codes (C:)
- The Radical number and radical (R:)
- The Stroke count (S:)
- English definition (Cut, carve, engrave).
- In some cases words are also listed with traditional characters, definition and pinyin pronounciation (鍥而不捨 persistant, persists, keeps trying [qieˋerˊbuˋsheˇ] )
Clicking on section titles will return you to sub-index or index.
The cangjie typing code for a Chinese character has a maximum of five characters. Each code element can be represented by a symbol i.e. 日, 月, 金 etc or by one of 25 letters.
There are a total of 24 code elements in all. (Z isn’t used and X is used for “Special” cases.)
Cangjie Codes and Groups
The image below shows a keyboard with Cangjie codes at the bottom right corner of each of the “letter” keys.
The a code, 日 can be used to represent parts of characters like 是, 門.
The full code for 是 is “amyo” or 日一卜人.
The full code for 門 is “an” or 日弓.
The b code, 月, can be used to represent parts of characters like 且, 具,骨.
The full code for 且 is “bm” or 月一.
For 具 the code is “bmmc” or 月一一金.
For 骨 the code is “bbb” or 月月月.
The c code, 金 can be used to represent parts of characters like 父, 分 (the upper part).
The 24 codes can be broken into 4 groups:
- Body Parts and
There is also one element, the “x” element that doesn’t belong to any of these groups.
The philosophical group contains the code elements for:
sun日, moon月, gold金, wood木, water水, fire火 and ground土.
To remember these codes, I think of:
- A and B as Sun日 and Moon月.
- C is the first letter of Cold which rhymes with gold金.
- D is the first letter of Dead, Dead wood木.
- E is the first letter in the word Eternal. The character for Eternal, 永 is similar to the character for water, 水.
- F is for Fire火.
- G is for Ground 土.
The stroke group (as in calligraphy strokes) contains elements for slant, dot, cross, fork, vertical stroke, horizontal stroke and hook stroke.
For this group:
- H, the element for bamboo 竹 looks like an H.
- i, The weapon element 戈 is easy to associate with little i since there is a dot on top.
- J, For the cross stroke 十, I think of Jesus on a cross (j).
- K, For the fork stroke 大, it looks a little like a k turned on its side with the legs down.
- l, The vertical stroke 中 looks like an l.
- M, Meanwhile I associate the horizontal stroke 一, with the chinese word 面 which means surface, and is prounounced “Mian”.
- N, For the hook stroke, 弓, you could think of the letter “n” as being like a hook.
Body Parts Group
The body part grouping contains elements for body人, heart心, hand手 and mouth口.
- O, I can’t think of how I remembered body or person 人 for o. “Oh” what is it?
- P, For heart 心, the heart is a Pump, hence P.
- Q, As for hand 手, for some reason it just sticks that a hand looks like a Q.
- R, As for mouth 口, capital R has an “enclosed” shape at the top. (Actually, except for pump and heart, for all of these, I just rememebered them without any particular association!)
The “shape” grouping contains elements for corpse 尸, twenty 廿, mountain 山, woman 女, field 田 and fortune teller卜.
- S, For s the element it represents 尸 looks a little like the top of an s.
- T, The element for t, 廿, looks like a t.
- U, Likewise the mountain 山 element looks like a sharp edged u, but with a line down the middle.
- V looks like the “point” in the character for woman 女.
- W, For field 田 and W, I think of Wide fields.
- Y, And as for the code for y, 卜, It looks like a Y.
Difficult (x code)
The final code, x, is used for characters which are difficult to code using the above elements.
Of all the cangjie code elements, x is the only one that isn’t at the beginning of any character code.
Examples of characters that use the x code, along with their cangjie codes are:
肅lx, 齊yx, 兼txc, 黽rxu, 鹿ixp, 慶lxh
Figuring Out Cangjie Codes
Generally when figuring out the cangjie code of a character:
- Start at the top if the character can be divided into top and bottom.
- Start at the left if it can be divided into left and right parts.
- Start on the outside (and move inwards) if the character is an enclosure.
- Start at the top left if the character can’t be divided in any of the previous ways.
Characters that can be Divided into Right and Left Parts
If the character has a left and right part, then you look at the top of the left part.
So for example, 明 (bright), you’d look at the element on the left, which is a sun. And so you know that the code for this character begins with an a. And since the part on the right is a moon, the code ends with b.
明ab or 日月
For the character 膝 (knee), the part on the left looks like a moon, hence the first element in its code is b.
膝 bdoe or 月木人水
For the character 貓 (cat) the top of the left most part is a sort of moon shape. And so the code for this character begins with b.
貓 bhtw or 月竹廿田
Characters that Can Be Divided into Top and Bottom Parts
If the character has a top and bottom part then you start at the left hand side of the top part, or you look at the top part as a whole.
For example, the character 軍 (army, military) has a top part which looks like the moon shape but with the two horizontal bars removed. (冖). And so the cangjie code for this character begins with b.
軍 bjwj or 月十田十
Dividing Top and Left into One Element or Two
In general, when looking at the left most part of a character or the top most part of a character, it will be broken down into either one element or in some cases two.
The top part of the character 單can be broken into two elements and so the top part can be represented by rr.
單 rrwj or 口口田十.
The left part of cat, 貓 also has two elements, “b” for the top part and “h” for the bottom part and so the left most part of this character is represented by the code bh.
貓 bhtw or 月竹廿田.
Enclosure and Solid Type Characters
For enclosed characters you start at the outside and work inwards.
So for example, 四, (four), you start on the outside with the code for field 田 which is w. Then you move to the inside two legs, 金 which is c.
四 wc or 田金
Or for 因 (cause, reason): W (田) for the outside part and (大) for the inside part.
因 wk or 因
For solid characters start off at the top.
As an example 止 (stop) has the code ylm. In this case the 卜 element is taller than the 丨element and so it is the first element in the cangjie code for this character.
止 ylm or 卜中一
Cangjie Code Decomposition Rules
Since a cangjie code has a maximum of five elements there are some rules for cangjie codes.
The first part of a character is represented by one or two code elements.
The second part of a character can be represented by a maximum of three code elements.
In this character, 鹼 the first part of the character is represented with the codes “yw” or 卜田. The second part is represented by “omo” or 人一人.
鹼 ywomo or 卜田人一人
If a character has more than two parts, then the middle part may have only two elements and the final part 1.
If the final part of a character is only represented by one element, then that element reprsents the bottom left part of the final part of the character.
Rather than giving examples here, you can get a feel for the codes by using the reference pages.
Looking up a Character
To look for a character so that you can find it’s typing code all you need to be able to figure out is the first part of a characters cangjie code.
Then go to the relevant page. Or you can go through page by page and practice typing characters to get a feel for touch typing Chinese Characters.
When character groupings are really large, then I’ve also sorted the characters by second elements.
Cangjie Input Setup for Mac Users
To practice typing Chinese characters using cangjie input codes you need your computer set up for it.
If you have a Mac computer, setting up your computer for cangjie input is relatively easy.
- Go to System Preferences,
- Click on the “
Language and Text”
icon. * Then select the “Input Sources” tab. * Select Keyboard & Character Viewer * Select “
Chinese-Traditional” and then the sub-entry “Cangjie”. * Also select the “Show Input Menu in Menu Bar” option near the bottom of the dialog box. You can then exit System Preferences.
To select Cangjie, click on the flag at the top right of your menu bar, to the left of the clock.
You should see “Cangjie” as one of the items. You can click on that item. You will then be able to type using Cangjie code.
Note, make sure caps lock is off. (Otherwise you get normal letters.)
When typing chinese characters using their cangjie codes, enter the full code and then press either enter or the space bar. (This may be dependent on which operating system version you are using.)
To switch back to normal typing (i.e. english characters) you can click on the flag and select the appropriate input mode. (U.S. or perhaps UK or Canada…)
You can also use “command-spacebar” to switch between your regular language and cangjie input.
If you have more than two input modes, then pressing “command space-bar” will cycle you through those options.
The following is a list of characters for which I personally find it difficult to remember their cangjie typing codes.
If you have other characters that you’d like added to this list please email me. email@example.com
Index Quick Links
Initial Element Code Reference
Index: A/日 Codes
(日…) 日a 昌aa 晶aaa 暈abjj 杲ad
(曝…) 曝aate 明ab 暖abme 曖abbe 暉abjj
(盟…) 盟abbt 影afhhh 鵾aphaf 戥ami 剔ahln
(曰…) 曰a 冒abu 勖auks 冕anau 最asje
(艮…) 艮av 既aimvu 暨auam 即aisl
(門…) 門an 間ana 閒anb 閱ancru 閑and