The Cow Radical 牛: Overview, Mnemonics, and Vocabulary

The Cow Radical 牛: Overview, Mnemonics, and Vocabulary

Today, Pandanese teaches you about the cow radical. 

You may have encountered this radical several times before, but do you know about the historical transformation of the character, how to use mnemonic devices to memorize it more effectively, or its related vocabulary? 

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What is the cow radical?

chinese cow radical page

Chinese cow radical page

In Chinese, the cow radical is pronounced as “niú” and written as 牛. The other name for this radical is the bull radical. 

牛 radical is composed of 4 strokes and is listed as radical 93 according to the Kangxi radical chart (a system of radicals of Chinese characters). Also, according to the Kangxi Dictionary, 233 characters (out of 49,030).

The cow radical, 牛 niú, can be written on its own and can stand alone as a character as well as be compressed as 牜 to combine with other components to create a new character. In that case, it will appear on the left side of a Chinese character with the last stroke, becoming a rising stroke rather than a horizontal stroke. Here are some examples: 牥 fāng (wild cattle), 牡 mǔ (male animals), 牝 pìn (female animals), etc. 

The cow radical is originally a pictogram. However, over time the shape has been modified to make it easier to write.

What is the stroke order of the cow radical?

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

牛 cow radical stroke order

How can you memorize the cow radical?

To memoize the cow radical, use your imagination to make 牛 look like a cow with horns. 

You can learn more Chinese mnemonics and more with Pandanese!

Pandanese combines mnemonics and SRS for you to effectively learn and review complex Chinese characters. You start off by learning the most commonly radical and characters, and build up your vocabulary with these basics.  

A cow radical vocabulary list for you!

Curious about the cow radical and other related terms? Here’s a list of some of the most essential words that contain the cow radical: 





To herd


To try to get, to seek


Domestic animals


Niú ròu



Niú nǎi      

Cow’s milk


Niú zǎi



Niú qún

Herd of cattle


Mù chǎng



Mù cǎo



Niú qi

Arrogant, self-important 

To conclude,

Learning Chinese shouldn’t be hard when you learn it’s breakdown. Knowing what the Chinese cow radical looks like in its normal and compressed form will give you insights into related meanings to cow, pasture, farming, etc.

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