Common names of common radicals 部首 and strokes 笔画


Here are my flash cards for common names of radicals, 部首 bushou, that some people have been asking for.
Please read the notes before you install them.

Much of this information comes from a great book called <<常用汉字部首: The most common Chinese Radicals>>. Other sources include Contemporary Chinese 1: charicter book, and as well discussions with my Chinese teacher and other friends here in China. Also, a big thanks to ldolse for his radical dictionary and flash cards, which were hugely helpful in putting this, much smaller, list together. Do check it out for much more extensive information on radicals.

While I feel that these are the most common names you should keep in mind that they are not the only names. Some bushou have academic common names that I only found in books, such as “er dao pang”, but people here in China have told me that no one calls it this, and “zou er pang” is what is commonly used.

Also some bushou have flexible position and flexible names. Yu 雨 for example could be placed on the left and would be referred to as yu zi pang, if on the side or yu zi tou if on the top, however it would likely just be referred to as yu if on the bottom. Xin 心 on the other hand would be called xin zi di on the bottom and just xin on top. I have not made cards for all possible names of all the radicals just the one where there is a clear or important distinction. As such some cards are included with no common name, mainly because they we listed in<<常用汉字部首>>and I am assuming the author knows what he is doing, others I have added myself because I have seen them recur often in the characters I am learning. Think od this list as a starting point, once you know the basic rules of the nomenclature identifying the common name of most radicals is quite easy if you know how to say the standalone character.

Also included are cards for all 8 the main strokes and some variations. These may or may not interest you, but since radicals are the building blocks of characters I think it is important to know the building blocks of the radicals.

Some characters may not display correctly for you as I have used a few substitutes where no Chinese character is available. The rising stroke 提 for example has no standard character. Initially I has used a forward slash to represent it but I have since found something more suitable that displays correctly on the android device I have available to test it on. Consider this to be a beta release.

Please let me know if you have any questions about these cards or if you find any errors.

I recomend you install the Dictionary first and then the flash cards, being sure that these dictionary definition are used for the flash card import.


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Thank you for creating these cards; you saved me a lot of time!

For whatever reason, my daughter's teacher has four radical names that I couldn't find in your flashcards:

禾 = 禾木旁

女 = 女子底
土 = 土字旁
穴 = 穴子头

I don't know whether they should be added to your flashcards or not; I just know that my daughter's teacher requires that she learn them. :)

I wish there were an authoritative source for radical names.

If you do revise your file, you may want to take a look at the Pinyin so that all leading characters are consistently upper- or lower-case.

Thanks again for your help!


Interesting, I hadn't heard of 禾木旁 before. There are in fact many more radical names than the ones in the flash cards. Some are variations that are used less commonly while others I left out because they follow a logical system, and for my own learning purposes I didn't find it necessary to make a card for each one.
For example is土字旁 when placed on the side and is 土字底 when placed on the bottom. same goes for .

Unfortunately there is no complete authority on radical names. There are the “official” academic ones, but some of them are seldom used. I set out to make this flash card set so as to have a list of the unofficial colloquial names. But I soon found there was no complete consensus. I've had different teachers tell me different names for the same radical. They don't disagree with each other though, they just learnt different ways. Perhaps if I lived in another part of China I would find even more variation. The same can be true of character stroke orders. A good rule of thumb is do it like your teacher says not like you might find in some old book (or online some place). In the end its just a tool to help us learn to read and wright.
Where in your daughter studying Chinese? In China?


We live in the Chicago area and she studies at a Xilin school here.

I realize that these names are rather loose. I just wanted to contribute what our teacher is requiring in case it helps someone else.

Thanks again for your contribution!

- nello


That's great that they teach you the radicals. When i was in school they were sometimes mentioned but never were required learning. It was only after I came to China that i discovered how important they are. Glad to see that it's catching on outside of China too. Best of luck with your studies. Hopefully one one these days i'll have some time to work on this flash card set again, there are a few other i would like to add as well.


Want to thank you a lot for this list. I find that studying radicals is important for me in order to remember characters, but I find it annoying that when I am studying the academic names for these - other Chinese people don't know them by those names at all.

That said, this thread is old, are there any updated or recommended resources for radicals (along with common names, not just academic/formal names)?


Hi toonamy,

I've posted a list of more colloquial terms for Chinese character components to the following thread:

Many of the terms in that list should be familiar to native speakers. If you've encountered any additional terms, especially if used by native Chinese, do let me know.

Enjoy, Shun

That said, this thread is old, are there any updated or recommended resources for radicals (along with common names, not just academic/formal names)?