The Insect Radical 虫: Overview, Mnemonics and Vocabulary

Welcome to our Pandanese radical series!

For those who are out of the loop, Chinese radicals are very important and useful for every Chinese learner. It’s because Chinese radicals often give you a hint of what the character means or how it sounds. 

In today’s article, we’ll introduce you to the insect radical, what it is, how to memorize it, and the vocabulary related to the insect radical.

What is the insect radical?

In Chinese, the radical for insect is pronounced as “chóng” and written as . This radical is composed of 6 strokes and is listed as radical 142 according to the Kangxi radical chart (a system of radicals of Chinese characters).

The radical models a worm or insect. However, characters of creeping animals such as reptiles, amphibians, and shellfish all include this radical as a prefix. For example:

  • 蜴 xīyì (lizard)
  • wā (frog)
  • háo (oyster)

Some Chinese learners argue that this radical chóng is nothing like a worm or insect while other radicals such as yī (one), jué (hook), or kǒu (mouth) are good examples of how the character and the object they describe are well related. This is because was originally a pictograph of a poisonous snake. This was observed in the Oracle Bone, Bronze, and Traditional forms of the character, where a wide flat structure resembles a cobra’s hood.

Shang (1600 BC – 1046 BC)Western Zhou (1045 BC – 771 BC)Shuowen Jiezi (compiled in Han)(202 BC – 220 AD)
Oracle bone scriptBronze inscriptionsSmall seal script
Historical forms of the character

In ancient times, meant a poisonous snake, and its derivative character meant worm or insect. However, evolved to mean insects and worms. Therefore, a new character shé with the insect radical was created to mean “snake.”

You might also be interested in:

What is the stroke order of the radical 虫?

The insect radical has six strokes, written in the following order:

Source: Visual Mandarin

You might also be interested in: 

How can you memorize the insect radical?

As mentioned above, this radical doesn’t evoke the image of any insect or worm. Therefore, it could cause us trouble if we’re trying to pin it into our memory. But, there’s a learning technique that helps learners digest information more effectively – the mnemonics technique.

At Pandanese, we employ mnemonics flashcards to help Chinese learners like you get the most out of your learning. Your Chinese learning journey couldn’t get any easier! Or could it? Have a look at how mnemonics works in this example. 

You might also be interested in:

Insect radical vocabulary list for you!

Want to know more about the insect radical and other related terms? Let’s learn some words that have this radical. 

CharacterPinyinEnglish meaning
cánsilkworm
苍蝇cāng yingfly
蚊子wén zimosquito
蜜蜂mì fēngbee
甲虫jiǎ chóngbeetle
毛虫máo chóngcaterpillar
蚂蚁mǎ yǐant
蝴蝶hú diébutterfly
蜻蜓qīng tíngdragonfly
蚱蜢zhà měnggrasshopper
蝗虫huáng chónglocust
螳螂táng lángmantis
萤火虫yíng huǒ chóngfirefly
蜗牛wō niúsnail
蚯蚓qiū jǐnearthworm

Pandanese makes it easier to learn Chinese!

If you’re interested in the Chinese language, especially Chinese radicals, we encourage you to check out our Pandanese blog and read as much as you like before starting your learning!

Pandanese is a web-based application exclusively designed to help Chinese-language learners memorize Chinese characters easier and more effectively. Pandanese uses scientifically proven memory-aid methods like mnemonics and Spaced Repetition System (SRS) to optimize your learning ability, helping you learn more than 6,000 hanzi and vocabulary within just a year.

Sign up for your free trial today!

The easiest way to learn Chinese

Learn more than 6,000 hanzi and vocabulary in a single year.

Try Pandanese!