5 Chinese Slang Words You Must Know

Posted by Lilian Li on 16/05/2016 12:05 AM 918

In Chinese, “slang” is “俚语(lǐyǔ)” and, as in most cultures, is used in spoken language and informal situations. And, as in most cultures, we have a lot of slang words. Below are some common ones.

1. 戴高帽子 [dài gāo mào zi]: To receive flattery or a compliment.

In the past, people would like to wear a hat to represent a skill. So the more hats you wear, the more you show that you have many skills. So the above slang is used to express that people are very capable. However, now a lot of people use this phrase to flatter others.

Example:
bú yào ɡěi wǒ dài ɡāo màozi, wǒ huì jiāoào de.
不要给我戴高帽子,我会骄傲的。
(Please don’t flatter me. I do not want to a rooster.)

2. 吃豆腐 [chīdòufu]: eat bean curd -- take advantage of women

"chīdòufu", generally refers to flirting or taking advantage of others. Sometimes it also refers to another meaning. In the past, if there is a death in someone’s family, the family would prepare a lot of food for the people who came to offer condolence. Tofu is one of the foods that may be served. So some people called this situation “chīdòufu.” Meanwhile, in another situation, some people always go to others’ homes so that they can be invited to eat. Therefore, those who enjoy taking advantage of others can also be called ”chīdòufu”.

Here is another example:
zài zhōnɡɡuó hūnlǐ shànɡ, hěnduō bànniánɡ rónɡyì bèi chī dòufu.
在中国婚礼上,很多伴娘容易被吃豆腐。
At a Chinese wedding, a lot of bridesmaids may be taken advantage by others.

3. 炒鱿鱼 [chǎoyóuyú]: to dismiss or fire someone from their job.

Chinese slang fire someone

The word "chǎoyóuyú" describes that people have been expelled from their job. Long ago, a lot of workers went to Guangdong or Hong Kong for a job. Normally the employer would provide room and board for them and minimal furnishings. So most of the time, the employee would bring his or her own quilt or a mat for sleeping. Meanwhile there is a Cantonese dish called "chǎoyóuyú” "(fried cuttlefish). When it is sliced, it will automatically roll up into a circle. So, the expression "chǎoyóuyú” refers to the fired employees rolling up their quilt and mat then leaving.

Example:
yīnwèi tā jīnɡchánɡ chídào, suóyǐ tā bèi tā de láobǎn chǎo yóuyú le.
因为她经常迟到, 所以她被她的老板炒鱿鱼了。
(She’s always late, so she was fired by her boss.)

4. 吃软饭 [chī ruǎn fàn]: eat soft rice -- to live off one’s girlfriend

The phrase “chī ruǎn fàn” is a sentence of Shanghai dialect at first. In the old days of Shanghai, there were lots of package men, “chī ruǎn fàn” was used to describe this kind of men. Later, the word “chī ruǎn fàn” refers to a man who is living off his girlfriend.

Example:
tā jī hū méi yǒu shén me ɡōnɡ zuò nénɡ lì, jiù shì ɡè chī ruǎn fàn de xiǎo nán rén.
他几乎没有什么工作能力, 就是个吃软饭的小男人。
He almost has no ability of working, he just a man who live off his girlfriend.

5. 放鸽子 [fànɡ ɡē zi]: release a pigeon -- miss one’s appointment

Chinese slang stand someone up

“fànɡ ɡē zi”, literally it means release a pigeon. It is easy to know that if we set a pigeon, it probably never come back. So “fànɡ ɡē zi” refers to miss one’s appointment, or stand somebody up.

Example:
shànɡ zhōu wǒ bèi wǒ de pénɡ you fànɡ le ɡē zi.
上周我被我的朋友放了鸽子。
Last week I had an appointment with my friend, but she didn’t show up at all.

It is really interesting to learn Chinese slang, isn’t it? Know more Chinese slang will make you as a Chinese master. Do you want to learn it right now? Why don’t you join our daily Chinese course will help you a lot. Contact us to schedule a FREE 1-on-1 lesson with live Chinese teacher now!

About The Author

Lilian Li

Lilian has a master’s degree in linguistics and didactics from Rennes University in France. An expert in linguistics and educational psychology, she has taught Chinese as a foreign language for several years, primarily in France. Her classes follow a logical and thorough path to ensure students build a methodology of learning that will continue to help them improve their language ability. She likes jogging, swimming, partying, and hang out with friends! Learn Chinese online with Lilian Li >>

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