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The Father Radical 父: Overview, Mnemonics and Vocabulary

Welcome back to our weekly radical series!

In today’s article, we introduce you to the father radical 父 in Chinese, its stroke orders, and how you can memorize it with our mnemonics flashcard example.

What is the father radical?

In Chinese, the radical for father is pronounced as “fù” and written as . This radical is composed of 4 strokes and is listed as radical 88 according to the Kangxi radical chart (a system of radicals of Chinese characters). 

According to the Kangxi Dictionary, only 10 characters (out of 49,030) are found under this radical. The number of characters found under father radical is quite low compared to other characters under other radicals. For example, there are estimated that 580 characters have been found under the radical foot

Some Chinese learners wonder why the radical doesn’t evoke the image of a man, let alone a father. It’s because this radical was originally an ideographic describing a hand holding an axe which exemplifies the image of a man chopping wood. In ancient times, a father, the head of the family, was responsible for doing such jobs as hunting and chopping wood. 

You can see how this radical transformed through time as below:

Shang(1600 BC – 1046 BC)Western Zhou(1045 BC – 771 BC)Warring States(481 BC – 221 BC)Shuowen Jiezi (compiled in Han)(202 BC – 220 AD)Liushutong (compiled in Ming)(1368  – 1644)
Oracle bone scriptBronze inscriptionsChu slip and silk scriptSmall seal scriptTranscribed ancient scripts
父-oracle.svg父-bronze.svg父-silk.svg父-seal.svg父-bigseal.svg
Historical forms of the character

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What is the stroke order of the radical 父?

The father radical has four strokes, written in the following order:

Source: Visual Mandarin

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How can you memorize the father radical?

Pandanese can help you.

At Pandanese, we employ mnemonics flashcards and  Spaced Repetition System (SRS) 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. 

Father radical vocabulary list for you!

If you see Chinese characters and words with the 父 radical, they will likely have father-related meanings. 

Want to know more about father-related terms? Find characters containing the father radical in the table below:

CharacterPinyinEnglish meaning
生父shēngfùbiological father
义父yìfùfoster-father
继父jìfùstepfather
父母fùmǔfather and mother, parents
父女fù nǚfather and daughter
父子fùzǐfather and son
grandpa
父老fùlǎoelders
国父guófùfather of a nation
神父shénfùChristian priest or clergyman
天父tiānfùHeavenly Father

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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!

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