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Question on how to find meanings of characters


I am a newbie and I see that some different words use the same character. How do I find their meanings of these characters on my own? Or do I ask here?

For example, husband and student each end with 生, which in pinyan is sheng with a neutral tone. What does this character mean? And how does this relate to husband, where the first character appears to be “first?”
Similarly, wife (laopo) and teacher (laoshi) each begin with the character 媳. What does this mean?

And then recreation park and company each begin with first tone gong 公. What does this mean? Space for a dedicated activity? So more specific than difang?




I think what you need is a dictionary. Take a look at I use this site for over a year now and this helps me a lot.

Hope this is also useful to you.



Thank you. Yes, this dictionary is great. So rich in ways to learn more. Thank you.


If you use Chrome, you can install the Zhongwen Chinese Popup Dictionary extension.

You can mouse over characters in the browser to get a quick definition, and there are keyboard shortcuts to look them up in several different dictionaries, as well as entries in Chinese Grammar Wiki if one exists.

I like using for its decomposition feature (scissors icon) which breaks the character down into radicals. I found this helped me a lot when I started learning 汉字.


thank you. Much appreciated.


There is a similar mouseover popup dictionary add-on for Firefox; it’s called Mandarin Popup.