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Chinese-Japanese-Korean-Vietnamese/English Dictionary

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Compilation started in September, 1986. First placed on the Internet on July 15, 1995. Updated monthly based on user contributions.


This dictionary-database represents the ongoing results of 25 years of research in pre-modern East Asian texts, from Zhou dynasty materials to nineteenth-century writings in China, Korea and Japan, including information on Sinitic terminology derived from Confucianism, Daoism, secular literature, poetry, and historical works. Originally, this compilation and the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism were initiated as a single compilation, but were eventually separated to encourage specialized usage and participation by experts from both Classical Chinese and Buddhist Studies sub-specialties.

Besides its inherent digital advantages, this dictionary already surpasses many of its hard-copy counterpart dictionaries in a number of ways. The total number of entries in December 2011 was 26,028, with 10,835 of these being single character entries. As distinguished from the numerous computer-aggregated East Asian language dictionaries proliferating on the Web, each of the entries in this CJKV-E dictionary is human-edited, and usually far more detailed than any other comparable lexicon, being derived from a wide range of authoritative Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese sources, and often through the direct reading of primary textual sources.

While a number of the Japanese-oriented modern kanji dictionaries that have appeared during recent decades have been of high quality in terms of precision within their respective purviews, they are, from the perspective of the classical scholar, limited in their scope and orientation to modern vocabulary, and thus are not that useful to those who are doing scholarly research/translation of pre-modern han-wen texts, who need to know all of the ancient semantic implementations and readings of a particular character, along with extensive pre-modern compounds.Therefore, the present work is intended to serve to fill the dearth in Western lexicographical resources on traditional East Asian language, literature, history, philosophy and religion. We strongly encourage those who are doing research in any form of pre-modern Chinese literature, philosophy, and history to become involved in this project by contributing precise materials from your research.

Password Access

We have established a password/quota system in order to: (a) encourage regular users to feel a sense of responsibility to make their own contributions to this shared resource, and (b) block access by abusers of the dictionaries who send in search robots to download all of the data (which, in the process, obstruct access by honest users). This system operates at two levels:

(1) Limited Use (no user contribution): Any user may access the dictionary by entering “guest” as the username with no password. This will allow a total of 10 searches in each of the DDB and CJKV-E dictionaries in a 24-hour period.

(2) Unlimited Use (user contribution): While our basic aim in putting these dictionaries on the web is to make this material readily available to everyone, the larger purpose of this project is to bring about a collaborative effort that will lead to the eventual development of a comprehensive body of data. In order to accomplish this, we need contributions toward content development from users. Thus, you may obtain an unlimited-use password by becoming a contributor to the CJKV-English Dictionary. For details, see here.

(3) Unlimited Use (paid subscription): Those who are unable to make a scholarly contribution, but need unlimited access may pay for a two-year subscription to the CJKV-E and DDB dictionaries, at the rate of U.S. $60 for individuals (we do PayPal). Institutions may obtain a two-year subscription at the rate of U.S. $600. Please write to for information. [Supporting Institutions]