Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China

Online Classical Chinese dictionary?

Recommended Posts


Dear all,

OneEye wrote:

I know of this one but I'm not sure how extensive it is. I haven't really used it myself. But it seems pretty extensive. One really cool thing is that there's a lot of classical texts on that website, and each passage has a link to the dictionary, which looks up every character in the passage for you.

I wouldn't recommend using the Dsturgeon.net dictionary as a literary Chinese dictionary.

I wouldn't even recommend it as a regular modern Chinese dictionary.

Most of the online Chinese dictionaries are based on one of three databases.

The Unihan database available from the Unicode Consortium's web site.

The online collaborative CEDICT project dictionary available from the MDBG web site.

Or the chineselanguage.org web site's database. No longer available for download?

A great deal of the CEDICT & the chineselanguage.org (all?) databases have taken their definitions from the Far East Chinese-English Dictionary.

It seems that all the character definitions for the chineselanguage database have been lifted entirely from the Far East Chinese-English Dictionary with only minor word order changes if any.

The dsturgeon dictionary seems to be based upon the Unihan database.

Unlike some of the others, I'm not really that into literary/classical Chinese but of the few characters that I know that do have vastly different meanings today than in the past, the dsturgeon dictionary has not given the desired results.

For example, here are four characters I entered into dsturgeon just to test it out.



And here are the same four characters entered into the shareware program CquickTrans which also uses the Unihan database along with the CEDICT project dictionary.


You can see in the Hanzi Info (left) portion of the CquickTrans image that the entries are identical to that found in the dsturgeon image.

The Dictionary portion of CquickTrans uses the CEDICT database.

CquickTrans is probably the only Chinese-related program that I use regularly.

I don't know why the program is never mentioned on Chinese-learning forums.

I found it so useful that I even paid to have it registered.

Oh well...back to the subject at hand.

In a true literary Chinese dictionary you'd have:

要 would include a definition of "waist".


The above image is from the chineselanguage.org web site.

The definition is the exact one you'd find in the Far East Chinese-English Dictionary.

See they've included "waist, midriff" as a definition.

女汝 would both also mean "you/you (plural)".


The above image is from the Lin Yutang Dictionary of Modern Chinese web site.

You can see tht they have a definition of (*[ru3]))(AC) you (singular or plural, interch. 汝) for the character "女".

Where "AC" means "Ancient Chinese" and "interch." means "interchangeable".

選(选) should also mean "calculate" and "10,000"

Not going to go through all the online dictionaries to see if they do include the definitions or not.

The Guoyu Cidian put out by the Republic of China (Taiwan)'s Ministry of Education would probably have some of these definitions as well.

I would guess so, since I remember reading a review once that one of the shortcomings of the dictionary is that they don't note ancient definitions that are no longer used in Modern Chinese in their entries.

Kobo-Daishi, PLLA.





Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

I would actually recommend not using any Modern Chinese dictionary for Classical Chinese (though there are some hybrids like 辭海 noting the senses ordered by time period, but I still think mixing time periods will just lead to problems). There are specialised Classical Chinese dictionaries around, and with them you'll be on the safe side.

Unfortunately, there aren't any good websites (maybe except for the odd scan of said dictionaries), so for the time being any serious student of Classical Chinese only has the choice to rely on printed dictionaries...

(And I do believe most people using the CTP website have noticed that its dictionary feature is merely a nice gimmick that helps people out by saving them time to provide them with the pronunciation of characters, so they can look them up in their printed dictionary more quickly)

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...
I wouldn't recommend using the Dsturgeon.net dictionary as a literary Chinese dictionary.

Me neither.


It's a Windows program. I refuse to download Windows programs [i'm currently using Linux, and besides, Windows programs are full of bugs & virii].

Great posting, Kobo-Daishi.

Edited by trien27
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...