Chinese Slang, 牛逼!

This week, on my blog, I wanted to tell you guys a bit more about Chinese slang.

Chinese New Year is almost over – well, not yet, because the Lantern Festival has not yet taken place, but let’s just assume that is the case – and it’s time for us to focus on streetwise Chinese.

This is a very large topic, and, obvously, I won’t be able to cover it all here. It is too broad a topic for it to be covered exhaustively. That’s a very interesting one though.

Over the past few years, I ran into many Chinese people, from all walks of life. I got familiar with Sichuan, Beijing and Guangdong dialects or languages. China is a very big country and each region has peculiarities.

Whether these peculiarities be about food, art, history or language, we should not forget that China is composed of lots of ethnic minorities, different from the major one, or Han, such as Hakkas – famous for their 土楼 tulou – and so forth.

However, these peculiarities will be the subject of other posts.

As a result, here, I have decided to solely lay emphasis on some general slang terms used all over the place in China and on some terms used to circumvent the censorship taking place in China.

This post may be used as a guide for those of you who would like to further deepen their understanding of Chinese slang. It’s just a start in your journey into Chinese slang and a lot more awaits you…

Anyway, that being said, let’s get down to the nitty gritty and have a look of some commonplace, classic slang terms you are bound to encounter when going to China. The following terms have been vetted by my personal experience, so I know most of them are used quite often. Thus, I can vouch for their daily use.

Chinese slang

牛(屄/逼)niú (bī)awesome, cool. Lit the cow’s private parts…
cool (好酷喔 hǎo kù ō; that’s cool!); lit.,  equiv. cool
太棒了tài bàngleawesome! Swell!
放屁fàngpìto speak nonsense; lit. ‘to fart’
哥们(儿)gēmen (er)mate (friend), buddy, bro
老铁lǎo tiěmate (friend), buddy, bro
废话fèihuàto speak nonsense,  to trashtalk; lit. ‘to waste words’
吹牛chuīniúto brag,  boast
摸鱼mō yúto be lazy on the job; lit. to rub fish
zànlikes, or to “like” (facebook like)
王八蛋wángbā dànson of a bitch; lit. turtle egg
坏蛋huàidàncrook,  scoundrel; lit. rotten egg
笨蛋bèndànidiot; lit. stupid egg
二百五èrbǎiwǔ250. In China, if you’re 250, you’re stupid.
傻逼shǎbījerk, asshole, motherfucker
弯的 wān de a bender, gay, queer
杀价shājiàto haggle, to bargain
同志tóngzhìgay or lesbian (normally “comrade” in a Communist context)
狐狸精húlíjīnga woman that steals another woman’s man; lit. a fox spirit
一夜情yīyèqínga one-night stand; lit. love for one night
分手fēnshǒuto break up in a relationship; to bid farewell; lit. divide hands
No 做 no死 / dieNo zuò no sǐ/ dieDon’t look for trouble or you’ll be in trouble
么么哒me me dámwak!, kiss, xxx
自拍zìpāitake selfies
葛优躺géyōu tǎngcouch potato
闺蜜guīmìBFF (only for girls)
累死了lèi sǐleknackered, exhausted,  worn out
开玩笑, 胡说八道kāiwánxiào, húshuō bādàoto banter, to kid, to joke
花瓶huāpíngan airhead, a bimbo. Hot but very stupid. Lit. An empty vase
丑八怪chǒubāguàiminger (UK), dog, pig, ugly woman, plain Jade, old boiler, old boot
佛系fú xìzen, detached,  let nature takes its course
种草莓zhǒng cǎoméito kiss someone passionately,  leaving a reddish mark (equiv. to give someone a hickey); lit. to plant strawberries
白痴báichīidiot; stupidity; lit. white fool
蠢货chǔnhuòidiot,  blockhead,  dunce,  moron (used infrequently)
傻瓜shǎguāfool,  simpleton (sometimes used lovingly); lit. stupid melon
小子xiǎoziguy,  kid; prick,  brat
疯子fēngzimadman,  lunatic
发疯fāfēngto become insane,  to go mad
娘娘腔niángniáng qiāngsissy,  girly,  effeminate (esp. of a male)
傢伙jiāhuoguy,  chap (negative); weapon,  gun
吹牛chuīniúto brag,  boast
摸鱼mō yúto be lazy on the job; lit. to rub fish
干嘛gàn maexclamation,  “What is it now?” or “What do you want now?” “Why”,  indicating irritation; why (impolite)
炒饭chǎofànto make love; lit. to fry rice
闭嘴bì zuǐShut up ! 
不造 bù zào dunno (不知道 in a shortened form)
約炮yuē pàobooty call,  casual sex
杀马特shā mǎ tèChinese subculture of young urban migrants, usually of low education, with exaggerated hairstyles, heavy make-up, flamboyant costumes, piercings etc (loanword from “smart”)
直男 zhí nán straight
宅男 zháinán otaku (male)
宅女 zhái nǚ otaku (female)
拍马屁pāimǎpìto suck up to sb, lick boots. Lit pat on a horse’s butt
马屁精mǎpìjīngbootlicker, a brown-noser.
条子tiáozia police officer; a strip (esp. of paper),  a note
老外lǎowàiforeigner (neutral connotation)
我肏 !(他)妈的wǒ cào!(Tā) mā deFuck!,  Shit!,  To hell with it!,  Damn it!; used to increase vulgarity. 他妈的 can also meaning “fucking…”
扎心了zhā xīnleyou broke my heart (used for irony or hyperbole)
油腻 (男)yóunì (nán)flat slob, repulsive middle-age man, lit. Oily

I couldn’t help but show you a picture of what 杀马特 – shā mǎ tè – is all about. It’s quite famous in China and made me laugh quite a bit the first I heard about this phenomenon.

A vivid example of 杀马特 – shā mǎ tè

China being a communist country, some words might be removed from the Chinese keyboard – such as “Wo cao”, whose proper spelling is “我肏”, but which is almost always replaced by 卧槽 due to its similar pronounciation – but, worry no more my friends, because a lot of ways are found to circumvent censorship.

Slang to avoid censorship

I have seen most of these words in use but not all of them. What is more, be cautious when you use them. Some people might not know them or be aware of their double meanings.

河蟹héxiècensorship,  harmony (= 和谐)=> river crab
目田zitianfreedom (=自由)=> my field
躲貓貓duǒmāomāohide and seek (Chinese police brutality in prisons)
抄水表chāoshuǐbiǎoPolice pays a visit to your place (to check a water meter)
帝都dìdūimperial city (making fun of Beijing all too powerful)
打酱油 dǎ jiànɡyóujust passing by (getting soy sauce)
草泥马cǎo ní mǎGrass Mud Horse… actually means “Fuck your mother”
法克鱿fǎ kè yóuFrench-Croatian Squid… this one is rather explicit.
雅蠛蝶yǎ miè diéSmall Elegant Butterfly (Yamete: stop it! from Japanese porn)
菊花蚕jú huā cánChrysanthemums scattered… Chrysanthemums means “asshole” in Chinese. So I let you imagine
鹑鸽chún gēQuail pigeon ( 春哥= effeminate person)
吉跋猫jí bá māoLucky Journey Cat (鸡巴毛 = hairy penis)
尾申鲸wěi shēn jīngStretch-Tailed Whale ( 卫生巾= menstruation pads )
达菲鸡dá fēi jīIntelligent Fragrant Chicken ( 打飞机 = masturbate)
喝茶he chaPolice investigation (= 核查)
传世chuanshireincarnate (been deleted and created again)
自干五zi gan wu50 cents volunteers that use propaganda techniques in favour of the Chinese government
科学上网kexue shangwangcircumvent China’s internet censorship
宅左zhaizuoChinese Extremist (leftist from the party)

太棒了

Well, that’s all for our Chinese slang today.

Feel free to let me know if you want me to add some terms in those columns!

I haven’t added Chinese acronyms (used with numbers) yet and will probably do so in the future. Nonetheless, I’ll conclude this post by using 2 examples to illustrate how some might be used: one of the last Chinese slangy term of this page is “88” (baba). It’s often used to say “bye bye” in Chinese because it’s very similar to its Chinese equivalent, just like “thank you” for “3Q” (san Q).

So, 88! 3Q 4 reading that post!

😉

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