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Big5 or Big-5 is a character encoding method of unknown origin for Traditional Chinese characters. Its Mainland China equivalent is GB.

Table of contents
1 Organization
2 Name
3 History
4 See also
5 External links


The original Big5 character set is sorted first by usage frequency, second by stroke count, lastly by KangXi Radicals.

The original Big5 character set missed many commonly used characters. To solve this problem, each vendor developed its own extension. The ETen extension became part of the current Big5 standard through popularity.


Big5's Chinese name 大五碼 (pinyin: Dawu Ma), means "Big Five Encoding." But it is unknown which language is the origin of the translation in this case. And the significance of the name is unclear too. The only common parallel found in Chinese is the "Big Five Metals" (大五金 Dawu Jin), which had important and wide-spread uses in metallurgy.


According to some accounts, the Big5 encoding was popularized by its adoption in several commercial software packages, especially the ET chinese system which ran on MS-DOS.

The Republic of China government declared it their standard in mid-1980s since Big5 was already the de facto standard by that time.

Hong Kong also adopted Big5 for character encoding. However, Cantonese uses many archaic Chinese characters that were not available in the normal Big5 character set. To solve this problem, the Hong Kong Government created the Big5 extensions "Government Chinese Character Set" in 1995 and "Hong Kong Supplementary Character Set" in 1999. The Hong Kong extensions are commonly distributed as a patch.

See also

External links