Discover the Craziest Chinese Characters
Ah complex Chinese characters, there are so many of them aren’t there!
In truth, there is, but actually every character is built up using a series of radicals and strokes which means even the most ridiculous looking characters all have their logic.
Every single Chinese character can be broken down using these strokes and radicals which makes our lives a little easier!
However, no matter what way we look at it, these characters are head-scratchers. Understanding the logic takes time. Writing them, even longer!
All part of the fun of learning Chinese, right?
Let’s dig and check out our definitive guide to the most complicated Chinese characters.
Most Complex Chinese Characters #1 – Cū 麤 (Rough/Coarse)
Cū 麤 – almost doesn’t look real does it, just a load of lines that amount to nothing. Not so!
The character is made up of a common format used in Chinese.
Take one character and multiply it by three! You see it all the time.
The most basic examples of this could be for wood and forest (木 and 森) or even the characters for the numbers one and three (一 and 三).So using that logic…
Let’s take the character for deer, 鹿 lù. Looks familiar?
On it’s own, it’s not too bad, but multiple not twice, but thrice, and we find ourselves in a bit of a pickle!
So many strokes! But at least you know how to decode it, and many other characters now. This is a very common trick used in Chinese characters.
Most Complex Chinese Characters #2 – Shān 羴 (Flock of sheep)
Well, look at that, the same system we saw in example one has been used here, but the meaning of this one might prove easier to remember for reasons we will explain now.
The character for sheep on its own is 羊 yáng, so how convenient the Chinese decided to make the plural for sheep, three sheeps pushed together!
Sometimes Mandarin really can be incredibly logical to learn.
DID YOU NOTICE – Above when we mentioned 木 mù and 森 sēn. The meaning of the first character was wood, the next character forest. See what they did there too? So easy to learn Chinese isn’t it?!
Most Complex Chinese Characters #3 – Pān 攀 (Climb/Clamber)
Whereas a lot of the examples here you won’t see an awful lot day to day (thank goodness), this one might prove to be an exception.
This character will often be seen on warning signs in the metro, or at scenic spots around China gives it’s meaning.
At least now, you’ll be the one in the know when everyone else is scratching their heads!
ICYMI – If you are enjoying this post you might also enjoy our similar Chinese characters article also as we decode some of the most confusing combinations in Chinese!Here are two examples from the many in our article!
OK, back to subject in point, most complicated Chinese characters.
Most Complex Chinese Characters #4 – Gāngà 尴尬 (Awkward)
We are breaking the trend here with two characters but as they come part of a useful word we thought we’d include this.
Certainly not the most complex of all the characters in the article but, ironically enough, quite an awkward looking couple of characters to digest.
As the previous example, this is a good one to remember because you may well see this one quite a bit if you are reading even Mandarin more so.
Most Complex Chinese Characters #5 – Nàng 齉 (Stuffy Nose)
Fully equipped with 36 strokes this is a monster character that is hard to get your head around at first!
If you have any smart ways of remembering this one, let us know below because we’ve got nothing!
Repeat, repeat, repeat is sometimes the only way to get by!
Your saving grace is that it’s one you won’t be using much or seeing much either, unless you have certain allergies perhaps!
Certainly one of the more impressive examples though!
Most Complex Chinese Characters #6 – Yù 籲 (Appeal/Beg)
Two reasons why you won’t come across this much:
1 – This is another character you won’t see a whole lot of, thankfully, until you get to more advanced levels of Chinese. It’s not one of those words you’ll be learning in your earlier days of study. Phew!
2 – A second reason why you may never have to worry about this character is because it is indeed a traditional version of 吁 xū.
吁 is much easier to stomach than the one you see above but that’s the joys of studying traditional Chinese, characters will almost always be more complex.
Don’t be fooled though, just because they look more complex, it does not mean they are harder to learn. In fact, it can prove the opposite. More strokes means more potential to throw out an educated guess for what the character means if you don’t immediately know it.
On the note of Traditional ChineseWe might have something just for you…
WANT TO STUDY TRADITIONAL CHINESE? – We’ve got just the place!
Most Complex Chinese Characters #7 – Quán 颧 (Cheekbones)
Back to “simplified Chinese”. I know, I know, not exactly simple, but hold with us. We learn together!
The character for cheekbones is certainly not the most complex on the list but still, so, many, strokes!
24 strokes in total!
Look at the left side of the character, there are two squares next to each other that almost resemble cheeks, maybe that’s the hack you need to remember this one!
Most Complex Chinese Characters #8 – BIANG – Too complex to type
We aren’t even joking, see why here!
It’s got so many strokes that typing this in normal computer font would just lead to the character being illegible.
The traditional character boasts a ridiculous 58 strokes (the one you can see above), and the simplified one a mere 43.
It easily wins the award for most complex Chinese character, but it’s also too obvious. Go to any other blog, this will be listed.
Of course with good reason, but there’s a lot more out there than just BIANG.
Nonetheless, we must admire this beastly character for what it is. To add to the fun, the word BIANG (for the famous noodle dish) is listed TWICE in the dish BIANG BIANG MIAN. As if 43/58 strokes wasn’t enough, you have to write them again, just the 86/116 strokes then!
Due to the complex nature of this character most restaurants simply write this on the menu:
Biang Biang Mian – BIANGBIANG 面 (makes our lives easier)
Most Complex Chinese Characters #9 – Tāotiè 饕餮 (Glutton, Ravenous Eater)
One of those examples that you try to copy with pen and paper and don’t even know where to start.
It looks almost impossible to remember, but as is so often, there is sound logic we can apply here.
The word for food/food products is 食物/食品 shíwù/shípǐn.
Let’s take the common denominator out of those two, being the first character 食 shí.
Notice anything about this character and our example above?
You got it, the character appears at the bottom of each of the two characters for the word voracious eater/glutton, how ironic!
Most Complex Chinese Characters #10 – Pá 掱 (Steal/Pickpocket)
This is a particularly smart example which should actually prove quite easy to remember.
Going back to the earlier examples, we have one character multiplied by three. That character is the character for Hand in Chinese 手 shǒu.
So how fitting it should be that three hands amount to a pickpocket or stealing. Makes perfect sense really doesn’t it?
Take, take, take
Most Complex Chinese Characters #11 – Qílín 麒麟 (Mythical Chinese Animal)
Wow, quite a mess to deal with there! Where do we start when decrypting this one?
You’ll notice the left hand radical is the same on both so that’s a nice place to start.
Also, the more common character 其 qí which you will learn early on from words like 其实 qíshí (actually), features on the right hand side of the first character. Conveniently the pinyin is the same!
In all seriousness, it’s interesting to look at but not one you should worry about for day-to-day purposes. Our staff at LTL got a bit carried away when suggesting examples!
It’s always good to open our eyes to these kinds characters anyway! It all helps for further study and progression.
Most Complex Chinese Characters #12 – Chīmèiwǎngliǎng 魑魅魍魉
Time to level up to 4 characters! Getting a sweat on?
This one, we think anyway, is surprisingly neat on the eye and not all that hard to remember given the left hand radical.
Kindly, they are all the same, but still, looks like a big mess at first glance.
So we introduce to you our first complex Chinese Chengyu.Don’t know what a Chengyu is? Check out our Chinese Chengyu article, we’ve got many actually!.
This is an idiom for evil spirits, demons/monsters, bad/evil people.
Not particularly pleasant but worth knowing nonetheless, you never quite know when you’ll come across these characters in the future!
Do you have a favorite yet? We are quite fond of the Mythical Chinese Unicorn one to be honest.. Let us know in the comment below and if you have other Complex Chinese Characters to share, please do!
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