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.

5620 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

528 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.

556 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!

545 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.

566 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.

569 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.

582 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.

600 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

563 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.

695 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.

276 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.”

230 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.

277 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.

255 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.

272 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.

267 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.

291 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.

254 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.

275 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.

259 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.

239 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.

236 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.

223 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.

202 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.

212 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).

230 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.

304 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.

201 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.

305 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.

221 Buzzes


拥抱座椅 yong
1
 bao
4
 zuo
4
 yi
3
 

cuddle chair

Want a cuddle, or yongbao in Chinese, when trying to sleep sitting on the seat in a plane? Boeing calls it the “transport vehicle upright sleep support system.” The cuddle chair system involves a backpack that extends from under the seat, on which passengers can rest their face and chest, as if being cuddled by someone with both arms around them.

224 Buzzes


简约穿搭风 jian
3
 yue
1
 chuan
1
 da
4
 feng
1
 

normcore

Normcore is a fashion trend of deliberately wearing ordinary, inexpensive, widely-available clothing. In Chinese, it’s a blend of words of jianyue (simple), chuandai (dressing) and feng (style). In normcore, flashy logos, flamboyant colors and trademark designs are out, while unbranded, sensible grey/blue/black, buy-it-anywhere bottoms, tops and trainers are in.

284 Buzzes


备胎继承人 bei
4
 tai
1
 ji
4
 cheng
2
 ren
2
 

spare heir

A beitai is a spare tire and jicheng ren is an heir or heiress. In royal families the oldest child is the heir. So a “spare heir” is the next child who would ascend the throne should something happen to the heir. In the UK, Prince William’s wife Kate is expected to give birth to their second child sometime this month. Since they already have a son, the newborn will be William’s “spare heir” when he becomes king.

242 Buzzes


微学历 wei
1
 xue
2
 li
4
 

nanodegree

Nano means extremely small, or wei in Chinese. So the term has been coined to refer to a course of study which is much shorter than a university course and focuses on the skills you need for a job, especially computer-related skills. The core principle of the nanodegree is that it’s vocationally focused, and not necessarily a one-off qualification but something which people might acquire several of in their working lifetime.

238 Buzzes


颜值 yan
2
 zhi
2
 

appearance index

The Chinese character yan refers to people’s face, with an extended meaning for the look, or the physical appearance of someone or something. So “appearance index” is a term recently coined to measure the good-looking, or the value of beauty in society. Someone or something that ranks high on the appearance index doesn’t have to look beautiful, but must be at least cool, trendy and decent.

243 Buzzes


耳穿戴 er
3
 chuan
1
 dai
4
 

hearable

Literally meaning an electronic device which is worn in the ear, or er in Chinese, a hearable is some other kind of wireless gadget incorporating a computer. To date, one of the main applications of hearables has been in relation to the fitness trend seen in the wider wearables market. A hearable will entertain you and advise you on how to exercise right.

324 Buzzes


短信脖 duan
3
 xin
4
 bo
2
 

text neck

Usually used in reference to a newly identified ailment linked to the neck, or bo in Chinese, after spending long periods hunched over a smartphone texting messages. Peering down at a screen puts undue stress on the neck, causing pain when it returns to its normal position.

279 Buzzes


霸王假 ba
4
 wang
2
 jia
4
 

fait accompli leave

Employees usually need to ask for permission from their boss for leave, which is called jia in Chinese. But on certain occasions like the first day of work after the Spring Festival, many employees fail to show up to work without asking for permission. Most cook up excuses like flight delays, leaving the boss no choice but to grant them the leave. Thus the sarcastic term “bawang jia.” Bawang means “despot” in English.

288 Buzzes


抢红包 qiang
3
 hong
2
 bao
1
 

Snatch a red envelope

Literally meaning to “snatch a red envelope,” this has led to public concern as China’s three major Internet companies Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have joined up with businesses and gone against tradition to give gift money to users a week before the Spring Festival. According to tradition, red envelopes are handed out during the holiday.

290 Buzzes


实体店 shi
2
 ti
3
 dian
4
 

bricks-and-mortar store

The phrase refers to a physical store where customers can go and pick up their parcels ordered online. Amazon. com recently opened its first bricksand- mortar store at the Purdue University campus in Indiana in the United States. It calls the store a “customer order pickup and drop-off location.”

273 Buzzes


求赞贴 qiu
3
 zan
4
 tie
1
 

likebait

The term refers to any piece of web content posted with the definite aim of compelling social media users to like it in the sense of showing that you agree with or enjoy something by clicking the “Like” button associated with it.

220 Buzzes


创想家 chuang
4
 xiang
3
 jia
1
 

wantapreneur

The term refers to those entrepreneur want-to-bes in the startup world of today, who dream of running a business of their own but lack either the knowledge or experience. Many of them fail to recognize that success demands tenacity and commitment, though it is always nice to say “he who doesn’t want to be a general isn’t a good soldier.”

258 Buzzes


抹胸 mo
3
 xiong
1
 

banding/banning breasts

How can you flatten a woman's breasts by banding them with a piece of cloth? The expression came after The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television halted the TV drama "Empress of China", starring Fan Bingbing, just one week after screening due to its flamboyant and revealing costumes. When it finally resumed for screening, people found all the women in play had their breasts "eliminated."

241 Buzzes


明明病 ming
2
 ming
2
 bing
4
 

The "I shouldn't really but..."

Old habits die hard. Knowing you shouldn't do something but doing it anyway. The expression is used to describe some people who may find it difficult to change or give up their accustomed behavior, such as smoking or procrastination.

244 Buzzes


亲密付 qin
1
 mi
4
 fu
4
 

add-on pay

Same as Add-on Card. It is a privilege offered to the spouse, parents or children of a primary holder of Alipay Wallet, a mobile payment app launched by Alipay, China’s largest online payments provider. The primary payer can set the fee limit for an add-on account and all expenses incurred on an add-on account are billed to the primary account.

241 Buzzes


手贱 shou
3
 jian
4
 

loose fingers

While sticky fingers is a term used for thieves, loose fingers refers to those who can’t stop buying things online. Such individuals quickly regret buying things they don’t really need when they receive the bill at the end of the month.

254 Buzzes


你行你上 ni
3
 xing
2
 ni
3
 shang
4
 

you can you up

This buzzword comes from quarries between basketball fans, meaning, “You should go and play if you are so good at it.” It is usually said to sarcastic fans when they are mocking players on the court.

255 Buzzes


小鲜肉 xiao
3
 xian
1
 rou
4
 

small fresh meat

“Small fresh meat” is used to describe male actors who are young, good-looking and have good body shapes. Usually these male actors are between 12 and 25, without many experiences in relationships. This buzzword is also sometimes used to describe beautiful females between 12 and 18 who haven’t dated much.

332 Buzzes


脑洞 nao
3
 dong
4
 

mind hole

Like having phantoms in the brain, the expression is used to describe someone with an over-reactive imagination that may generate eccentric and mismatched ideas that are difficult to pin down.

261 Buzzes


塌方式腐败 ta
1
 fang
1
 shi fu
3
 bai
4
 

cave-in corruption

The term was coined following the recent shake-up in Shanxi’s leadership. Scores of senior officials were under investigation by the country’s anti-graft watchdog for “serious violations of discipline and law,” including Vice-Governor Ren Runhou and three members of the CPC Shanxi Standing Committee.

262 Buzzes


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