2,366 Chinese buzzwords with English explanations

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爱豆 ai
4
 dou
4
 

Idol

The term ai dou is the homophonic expression of the English word “idol.” This phrase originated from Korea, where the singers, actors and actresses are referred to as ai dou by fans. Influenced by Korean shows, Chinese fans have also started using this expression to address their idols. At first, ai dou was only used in contexts related to Korean celebrities, but this term has become used in daily conversations when someone mentions his/her idol or favorite figures in a relaxing or informal way.

5489 Buzzes


套路 tao
4
 lu
4
 

Routine tricks

The original meaning of this term tao lu refers to the established series of pre-designed skills and tricks in Chinese wushu or martial arts. Nowadays, in daily conversations and on the Internet, this expression is frequently used to describe an insincere way of doing something. In a typical scenario where a male uses clichés to flirt with a female he finds attractive, that female might indicate her aversion against his routine tricks or his tao lu

408 Buzzes


二次元 er
4
 ci
4
 yuan
2
 

Nijigen/two-dimensional space

The concept er ci yuan (two-dimensional space) came from Japan. Japanese people use the concept er ci yuan to describe a series of anime and manga depicted two-dimensionally. In China, the Nijigen industry has become a hot-spot for investment. Besides, a great number of young Chinese people have become addicted to two-dimensional characters. Hence, another related term er ci yuan kong (Nijikon, Nijigen Complex/Addiction or 2D Complex/Addiction) is used to describe the crazed mentality of these young people who think that two-dimensional anime or game characters are visually, physically or emotionally more attractive than real-life people.

425 Buzzes


猴赛雷 hou(
2
) sai(
4
) lei(
2

so amazing

The term hou sai lei is the homophonic expression of a Cantonese phrase with an auspicious meaning of “so amazing.” The Chinese character hou in hou sai lei means “monkey,” so people use this expression hou sai lei to extend their best wishes for the Chinese Year of Monkey, or to express appreciation and congratulations to someone who has done an amazing job. 恭喜你获奖,你真是猴赛雷啊! Gōng xǐ nǐ huò jiǎng, nǐ zhēn shì hóu sài léi a. Congratulations on your getting the award. You are so amazing!

417 Buzzes


狗带 gou(
3
) dai(
4

go die

The term gou dai is the homophonic expression of the English phrase “go die.” The homophonic expression came from the artist Huang Zitao’s rap lyrics “wo bu hui jiu zhe yang qing yi de go die” (I will not go die so easily) and has become a popular term on the Internet since then. The term can be used when people want to end a conversation by asking the other party to gou dai, or when stressed-out people let off the steam by saying “wo yao gou dai la” (I wanna go die). 事情太多做不完,我要狗带啦。 Shì qíng tài duō zuò bù wán, wǒ yào gǒu dài la. There is too much work to do; I wanna go die.

432 Buzzes


营改增 ying(
2
) gai(
3
) zeng(
1

replace business tax with value added tax

The term ying gai zeng is an abbreviation for China’s tax reform to replace business tax with value-added tax. Ying stands for ying ye shui (business tax), while zeng stands for zeng zhi shui (value-added tax). Premier Li Keqiang announced that China would replace its business tax with a value-added tax in all sectors in a bid to streamline tax structures and reduce the tax burden in a government work report during the opening meeting of the fourth session of the 12th National People’s Congress on March 5. A pilot program was launched in South China’s Guangdong Province in 2012 从五月一日起,营改增试点范围扩大到建筑业、房地产业、金融业、生活服务业。 Cóng wǔ yuè yī rì qǐ, yíng gǎi zēng shì diǎn fàn wéi kuò dà dào jiàn zhù yè, fáng dì chǎn yè, jīn róng yè, shēng huó fú wù yè. From May 1st onwards, the replacement of business tax with VAT has been extended to such industries as construction, real estate, finance and consumer services.

430 Buzzes


互联网+ hu
4
 lian
2
 wang
3
 jia
1
 

Internet Plus

The term hu lian wang jia refers to the application of the Internet and other information technology to conventional industries. In China, hu lian wang jia became a popular concept after it was proposed by Premier Li Keqiang in his Government Work Report in March 2015. The concept applies to a wide variety of areas, including the government, health-care, education and finance.

457 Buzzes


网红经济 wang
3
 hong
2
 jing
1
 ji
4
 

Cyber-star economy

The term wang hong jing ji refers to the economic phenomenon related to cyber stars. Wang hong jing ji first attracted wide attention when cyber star Jiang Yilei (also known as Papi Jiang) secured 12 million yuan (US$1.85 million) worth of venture capital. The concept of wang hong is not new, but Jiang’s achievement set a new benchmark and ignited a debate over whether wang hong jing ji has been prevalent in China in recent years.

470 Buzzes


妈宝男 ma
1
 bao
3
 nan
2
 

Mama’s boy

The term ma bao nan describes a man who is not independent enough to make decisions by himself at an age when men are expected to be independent, and who remains greatly influenced and manipulated by his mother. The term also implies a mother’s strong dominance over her son. Similarly, people use ma bao nu to describe a female with the same traits

445 Buzzes


中间性格 zhong
1
 jian
1
 xing
4
 ge
2
 

ambiverts

Zhongjian is the Chinese equivalent for the Latin prefix ambi-, meaning on both sides. For years, psychologists have divided people into two basic personality types: introverts and extroverts. But experts suggest there’s middle ground on the personality spectrum, and people referred to as “ambiverts” fall somewhere in between. Ambiverts have more balanced personalities.

559 Buzzes


茶杯一代 cha
3
 bei
1
 yi
2
 dai
4
 

teacup generation

Chabei is Chinese for teacup. As teacups are usually made from delicate materials that can easily break or chip, such a character has been borrowed to describe the generation born in the 90s. These kids who grow up in the digital age are considered fragile. They have difficulty handling criticism or rejection. When they get to difficulties in jobs or in life, they tend to breakdown.

242 Buzzes


城会玩 cheng
2
 hui
4
 wan
2
 

City people can really play

The phrase is abbreviated form of “nimen (you) chengliren (city people) zhenhui (really can) wan (play),” often used in gentle teasing between friends for doing something quirky and unconventional. The phrase is said to have been coined to describe actress Zhang Xinyu when she wore a flamboyant red and green cotton dress in a traditional household goods pattern to the 68th Cannes Film Festival. Many netizens joked that she must have “stolen grandma’s floral quilt cover.”

216 Buzzes


情绪污染 qing
2
 xu
4
 wu
1
 ran
3
 

Emotional pollution

When people spend too long watching the terrible scenes of an accident, such as the recent Tianjin blasts, they may come to feel scared or depressed. Like air pollution that travels from one area to another, long and persistent negative emotions can spread between individuals, causing anxiety or depression that weighs everyone down.

259 Buzzes


歪果仁 wai
1
 guo
3
 ren
2
 

foreigner

The term meaning a “tilted nut” is often used by modern Chinese to refer to their foreign friends in a humorous way while chatting online. It is a phonetic similarity of what the Chinese call foreigners wai guo ren, only with different characters. The wai in “tilted nut” is pronounced in the first tone, while the wai in “foreigners” is pronounced with the high falling tone. The result is a slight mocking of foreigners who often cannot identify the tones of different Chinese characters.

239 Buzzes


独角兽 du
2
 jiao
3
 shou
4
 

Unicorn

Traditionally, unicorn is a legendary horse with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. But in the business world, a unicorn (or unicorn company) has in recent times become the accepted description for a billion-dollar Internet start-up, usually no more than 10 years old. Of all the so-called Unicorns, Uber stands out above the rest.

251 Buzzes


舔屏 tian
3
 ping
2
 

to lick the screen

Tian is to lick, and ping is the screen. Inspired by the various “licking screen” GIF characters who are drawn to appear as if they’re licking the viewer’s face, the phrase is often used as a display of adoration and unrestrained affection for an Internet hit when it appears on the screen.

249 Buzzes


粉眼航班/紫眼航班 fen
3
 yan
3
/zi
3
 yan
3
 hang
2
 ban
1
 

pink-eye flight/purple-eye flight

Fenyan is pink-eye, and ziyan is purpleeye. If a red-eye flight is a long overnight flight, a pink-eye is any flight just short of that, while a flight that is taken or arrives at midnight could be defined as a purple-eye.

277 Buzzes


轻宵夜 qing
1
 xiao
1
 ye
4
 

brinner

Brinner is a fusion of breakfast and dinner. It’s the idea of eating breakfast foods when you finish a day’s work in the wee hours of night. Since it’s too late to enjoy a full meal before bed, night munchies are served. This usually consists of foods traditionally eaten at breakfast such as eggs, pancakes, waffles and cereal.

241 Buzzes


僵尸肉 jiang
1
 shi
1
 rou
4
 

zombie meat

In horror stories, a jiangshi or zombie, is a dead person who has been brought back to life. Zombie meat refers to decadesold frozen meat that is served after being soaked in hydrogen peroxide to make it look fresh and edible. Police have recently intercepted more than 100,000 tons of frozen chicken, beef and pork smuggled into China.

255 Buzzes


网警 wang
3
 jing
3
 

Internet police

Police in 50 Chinese cities went online starting June 1 in an effort to crack down on the spread of illegal and “harmful” information via Weibo, WeChat and online messaging boards. Internet users can report illegal online activities to police officials’ social network accounts 24 hours a day.

228 Buzzes


微传销 wei
1
 chuan
2
 xiao
1
 

WeChat distributed sales

Some WeChat users are using the social media app to sell products to their families and friends. In some cases, individuals are using their one credibility and emotional bonds to bilk others with phoney sales offers.

220 Buzzes


猫爸 mao
1
 ba
4
 

Cat Dads

Cat Dads are sensitive men who believe in nurturing their children to get the best from them. Cat Dads married to Tiger Moms should expect a bumpy ride.

216 Buzzes


狼爸 lang
2
 ba
4
 

Wolf Dads

Wolf Dads make Tiger Moms look like pussy cats. Their approach to child rearing is almost Draconian, with many regarding the beating of youngsters as a good thing.

208 Buzzes


羊妈 yang
2
 ma
1
 

Sheep Moms

Sheep Moms adopt a far more laissezfaire approach to their children’s schooling. The attitude of such women is likened in the Chinese language to herding sheep.

188 Buzzes


虎妈 hu
3
 ma
1
 

Tiger Moms

Mothers who are very strict with their children and push them to be the best not only at school, but also at extracurricular activities are known as Tiger Moms.

198 Buzzes


颜性恋 yan
2
 xing
4
 lian
4
 

yan (appearance) bisexual

This term describes people who can fall in love with anyone who is beautiful. This term is developed from another Chinese buzzword “颜值”(appearance index).

206 Buzzes


心塞 xin
1
 sai
1
 

feel stified

The Chinese word is a short version of “心肌梗塞” xinji gengsai, a medical term that means heart attack. Now the term means hard feelings, or feeling uncomfortable about something.

273 Buzzes


友尽 you
3
 jin
4
 

dudevorce

The word is a combination of dude and divorce, which means a breakup between two friends. The Chinese version means that two best friends end their friendship.

187 Buzzes


爱问鬼 ai
4
 wen
4
 gui
3
 

askhole

This is an equivalent of the none-toopolite English term for someone who constantly asks for advice but never takes it — or indeed does the opposite. In Chinese ai wen can mean love-to-ask, while gui — a ghost — is often used as a form of abuse.

275 Buzzes


创客 chuang
4
 ke
4
 

maker

Featuring the Chinese character chuang, meaning to create, this term emphasizes a creativity and passion for making things. The types of people who it identifies are just as varied — from those who focus on home crafts to IT experts, welders to game players. The maker culture representing an extension of DIY culture — often with a technology angle.

203 Buzzes


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