When moving to China, many people have the urge to begin learning Chinese. However, learning Chinese isn't feasible for everyone! It can take a lot of dedication and time, which is not always available. The desire to learn Chinese is often the result of the drive to connect with others. Most locals don't speak much English, so if it's the connection and harmony you seek, we've got an idea for you! Try learning some common fun phrases! Learning such phrases can also create a deeper awareness of Chinese culture and the different outlooks Chinese people have on life. We spoke with several Chinese natives about some phrases. Here are some of our favorites!
铁公鸡 - Tiě gōng jī
The literal meaning of this expression is "rooster is made of iron." In Chinese, this expression is used to describe someone who is very stingy. We all know that one person doesn't like to fork out their fair share. This expression is used for someone who doesn't want to pay, even the smallest amount. In Chinese, the expression is associated with a rooster that does not want to lose even one feather.
笑面虎 - Xiào miàn hǔ
The meaning of "xiào miàn hǔ" is "smiling tiger." Put simply, see that grin on a tiger's face? It's not what it is because a tiger will jump to your neck the minute it gets the chance to. Xiào miàn hǔ is used to describe someone who shows kindness and then sets up and frames people behind their backs! A sort of a 'backstabber.'
Pronounced, "dwong," "Duāng" is Internet slang with no official meaning or Chinese character. It became hugely popular online in 2015 and has become a meme of sorts. Duāng can most closely be defined as a sound, similar to "Ta-da!". It's used in numerous ways: a sound effect or an adjective to describe something positive, like "These noodles are so duāng!". The phrase was popularized as the result of a resurfaced Jackie Chan shampoo commercial from 2004. Jackie Chan says "Duāng!" to describe his fantastic, groovy hair after using Bawang shampoo. The video went viral, and the expression hasn't looked back.
马后炮 - Mǎ hòu pào
In English, "mǎ hòu pào" translates to "hindsight." This expression is used to describe when someone shows up too late to help with a task. For example, if you've got a problem and cannot figure it out, you may ask a friend for help. However, by the time that person showed up, too much time has passed, and now it's too late for their support! So, the next time you ask your friend for help, and they take their sweet time, you've got a handy Chinese expression for them. Now, I hope they can't understand Chinese!
落汤鸡 - Luò tāng jī
This is an expression to describe a person who is soaked and messy like a chicken. The literal meaning of "luò tāng jī"? "Drop soup chicken," or "a chicken who falls into soup." It's used to describe somebody who may have gotten caught in the rain. It can also describe a person who trips and falls in water.
干饭人- Gānfàn rén
This expression means foodie, but not quite the Instagram foodie. This usage describes someone who wolfs down their food. We've all been there: a moment when we're starving and eat like there's no tomorrow. Well, little did you know, it's called gānfàn rén.
是个狠人 - Shìgè hěn rén
"Shìgè hěn rén" translates to English as a sort of "ruthless person." However, this expression is used to describe a person who is very strict with herself.
锦鲤附体: Jǐn lǐ fù tǐ
"Jǐn lǐ fù tǐ" describes someone fortunate. "Jǐn lǐ" is a variety of amur carp known in Japan as "koi." This fish symbolizes good luck and wealth in Chinese culture and is often used as a lucky charm. When something outstanding happens to somebody, you can use this expression to describe them.
醉了 - Zuìle
Zuìle can translate to 'drunk,' but this is not its literal meaning. This expression can be used to say that you are not drunk, but there is nothing you can think of to say. It's almost a moment of feeling speechless as if you are drunk and cannot speak; zuìle can be used for a moment when it's hard to utter any words.
666 - Liùliùliù - 六六六
In many cultures, the number 666 has very negative connotations. Some believe it can be used to summon the devil. However, in Chinese culture, it's got a completely different meaning. In Chinese, the definition of 666 is impressive or unique! It's usually written using digits. So, the next time someone in China sends you a "666", they are not referring to you as the devil! They are pretty fond of you!
Although there are plenty more fun phrases like these to get acquainted with, this list should give you a good start learning the language. Whenever learning new expressions, we always advise you first check with a close friend who speaks Chinese; you never know if you might be saying something completely different! Best of luck with your Chinese.