At Ninchanese, we aim to teach you both at the same time, so today, we’re showing you some really funny and popular Chinese catchphrases. They’re really handy if you want to chat online or talk to your Chinese-speaking friends. And they are great to learn, because they always reflect current issues and help you understand Chinese culture better . Besides, it’s not as easy for us, foreign learners to know these things if we aren’t living in China.
One day, you suddenly start seeing a new word or an expression pop up everywhere online or hear teenagers use it all the time and you don’t even know what it means yet. Chances are, you’ve encountered a catchphrase; a popular slang word or expression that everyone starts suddenly using to talk about a concept.
In China, new slang and catchphrases emerge at break-neck speed and become immediately immensely popular on Weibo and other online forums. So if you want to speak really modern Chinese, being familiar with Chinese catchphrases as well as the things you learn in class will help you a lot.
Nincha’s here to help though so don’t be worried, you’ll know all you need to know! Here we go!
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Chinese catchphrase #1 : It’s a Duang thing
Our first must-know Chinese catchword is a word you’ve probably come across already, and not necessarily in a Chinese text. It was a big hit not only in China but also in some parts of the world (hello 9gag): DUANG.
Duang, this strange little word (pronounced: dwong) suddenly hit the Chinese Internet by storm and became viral throughout China. You can now hear people use it jokingly in the streets, on TV shows, everywhere!
This word doesn’t actually have a meaning, it is a modal word like “Oops”, “ta-da” or “boing!”, a mimetic word to show your excitement or to describe something that happens all of a sudden. A majority of Chinese netizens also seem to use it as an adjective before another word to emphasize it.
他 duang 的一下摔倒了。
tā duāng de yī xià shuāi dǎo le.
“Duang”, he fell down all of a sudden.
DUANG first appeared in a Jackie Chan interview. In the interview, to show how he felt about a shampoo advertisement, he used this word to explain how magical the shampoo could be. Just like magic, after DUANG a second your hair turns black again.
Now, if you google Duang, in addition to Jackie Chan’s face, you’ll see this everywhere:
Since Duang didn’t have a character associated with it in Chinese, netizens came up with this: It’s a combination of Jackie Chan’s name in Chinese + Duang written on top. ^^
Later on, out of nowhere, a netizen remixed this advertisement with the music of 庞麦郎 Pang Mai Lang’s “My sneaker” “我的滑板鞋” (wǒ de huá bǎn xié) – a spoof music that is unreasonably hot in China right now. In it, you hear “Duang” repeated over and over with a bunch of special effects. It’s really quite something. So let’s get duangggggg now!
mén duāng de yī xià jiù kāi le.
Tada(duang)! The door is open.
Chinese slang #2: Tired like a dog
leì chéng gǒu
tired like a dog
Nowadays in China, a lot of sayings are used to express how tired or bored we feel, but the most popular slang expression is this one: “累成狗” (leì chéng gǒu, tired like a dog).
This Chinese catchword works more or less like an adjective, and means “like a dog” (Adjective + 成狗). So you can add anything you want in the front, like 饿成狗 “hungry like a dog”; 热成狗 “hot like a dog”; 穷成狗 “poor like a dog”, anything you want. This slang expression works just like 热死了rè sǐ le “I am hot to death”. Both 成狗 and 死了 are used here after the adjective to add emphasis.
You might be wondering why a dog? I didn’t find the answer as to how this all started, but just picture a tired little puppy face with its little tongue hanging out of its mouth, lying on the ground. I think it perfectly sums up our feeling.
zuó tiān zuò yè chāo jí duō, wǒ lèi chéng gǒu le!
Yesterday’s homework was super hard, I was tired like a dog!
Chinese catchphrase #3: Moe-moe cutie
méng méng da
萌萌哒 is an expression influenced by the Japanese Manga.
“萌” (méng) literally means “cute”, and “哒” (da) is a modal particle. The Chinese like to use a word twice to add emphasis to it, such as:
好好吃 hǎohǎochī. It taste good
好好玩 hǎohǎowán. It’s funny.
That’s why here “萌萌” actually means the same as “萌”. It is generally used to describe someone who is especially cute and lovely. This expression originated on 豆瓣 Douban, a very popular social website used by Chinese teenagers, where people can exchange their thoughts about the books they read, movies, music, events, blogs and other contents. On Douban, one day a netizen posted “Today I forgot to take my medicine and I feel so cute.”
jīn tiān chū lái méi chī yào, gǎn jué zhěng gè rén dōu méng méng da
Today I forgot to take my medicine and I feel so cute.
You can use this word to express someone is really cute or sometimes you can use it to make fun of yourself. Just for fun~.
jiǎn le xīn fà xíng, gǎn jué zì jǐ méng méng da
Got my new haircut, I feel so cute. (here, it has a positive meaning)
Chinese slang#4: 么么哒 mua~
么么哒 shares the same pattern as 萌萌哒 (words reduplication) and is now used by teenagers and also adults in China to express one’s love and affection when they text a message or chat online. It is not only used between lovers but also with family and friends. It is a cute mimetic word of a kissing sound, just like mua~ Teenagers always use this symbol as a kiss too: >3333333
Yi hui er jian qin ai de, momoda~
See you later darling, kiss you~
Chinese catchphrase #5: Rich and bitch
yǒu qián jiù shì rèn xìng
have money, can act however I want
有钱就是任性 is a saying that says “you’re rich so you can do whatever you want and bitch as much as you want”.
This slang expression originates from a real event: One day in April 2014, Mr. Liu spent 1760 yuan online to buy a health care product. Soon after, he got a strange call persuading him to buy other drugs for the first product to be effective. In the following four months, Mr. Liu sent about 540,000 yuan to the fraud scheme. He said that he’d figured out after dishing out 70 000 RMB that it was a scam but kept going. “I just wanted to see how much could they take from me!”, said Mr. Liu. Everyone was amazed by his words and absurb rich-guy behavior. He must be really rich, huh? So that’s how the expression 有钱就是任性 became popular.
Next time you want to show off your wealth, but not exactly in Mr Liu’s way, you can say:
wǒ cóng lái bú zhù wǔ xīng jí yǐ xià de bīn guǎn, yǒu qiín jiù shì rèn xìng.
I never go to hotels that are less than five-stars, I’m just so rich.
Chinese Internet slang #6: Crazy or Drunk?
yě shì zuì le
Are you kidding me? Have I become crazy?
The literal meaning of this expression is: being drunk. But now, it is used in Chinese to show how helpless one feels, and in situations where one has nothing to say or doesn’t understand. The slang meaning is therefore closer to “Are you kidding me?!” or “Have I become crazy?!”
kàn nà ge gū niang de dǎ bàn, wǒ yě shì zuì le.
Look at that girl’s way of dressing, have I become crazy?
zhè me duō zuò yè wǒ yě shì zuì le.
Are you kidding me?! We have that much homework?
Chinese catchphrase #7: You can you up
nǐ xíng nǐ shàng
If you can do it, do it.
你行你上 literally means “you can you up”. As a slang expression, it means “if you can, do it , go ahead, if not please shut up.” It’s especially used about people who like to criticize others, especially when the person who’s doing the criticizing is not capable of doing the same thing as you.
wǒ jué de tā zuò de bú gòu hǎo.
I don’t think he did good enough.
Nǐ xíng nǐ shàng a.
If you think you can do it, just do it.
Chinese buzzword #8: No zuo no die
bù zuō bù sǐ
Don’t do silly things, don’t die
作 “zuō” in Chinese means to “act silly or daring”. This saying means that if you don’t do something silly, you won’t end up with bad consequences.
Look at this conversation and you’ll understand:
wǒ kǎo shì zuò bì bèi dāng miàn zhuā zhù, xiàn zài wǒ de chéng jī bèi qǔ xiāo le.
I cheated on the exam yesterday, and I was caught in the act, now my grades have been canceled….
bù zuō bù sǐ a.
If you hadn’t been silly, you wouldn’t have gotten into such trouble.
Chinese catchphrase #9 Goddesses and She-males
nǚ shén hé nǚ hàn zi
Goddesses and masculine women
Needless to say, we all know what a goddess is, like Audrey Hepburn, so beautiful and elegant that everyone admires her. In Chinese, we call a woman who is incredibly beautiful and shinning a goddess 女神nǚ shén.
On the other side, what’s the opposite of a goddess? There is another group of girls that exist in our daily life; they act carelessly and sloppily, they always have a generous personality and are forthright by nature. Some are even more manly then men. In that case, these men-like women in Chinese are called 女汉子(nǚ hàn zi), masculine women or manly girls. Here 汉子 hànzi means man; it is the formal way to say 男人 (nán rén) ‘man’. 女汉子usually carries a positive meaning and is used to describe an independent girl who is not afraid of hardships.
Tā kěyǐ zìjǐ xiūlǐ jiālǐ de yīqiè diànqì, zhēnshì gè nǚ hànzi.
She can fix all the household electrical appliances herself, she is really a manly girl.
Mandarin slang #10: Have yourself a loneliness party
jì mò dǎng
寂寞党 is a popular saying that started when one day, a netizen posted a photo of him eating noodles, with the accompanying sentence: “哥吃的不是面，是寂寞”(gē chī de bú shì miàn shì jì mò) which means “What I am eating is not noodles, it’s loneliness.” Since then, this kind of saying has been very fashionable. Everyone think it’s funny, cool and even a little ironic. Actually, this expression doesn’t have a special meaning. Here 党 means a group of person. 寂寞jìmò means loneliness. You can use this expression when you feel lonely or bad or just for fun.
wǒ chōu de bú shì yān, shì jì mò.
What I’m smoking is not the cigarette, it’s loneliness.
All right, there you have it: 10 funny catchwords that are really popular now in China. So next time when you see some strange expressions in forums or chat with your Chinese friends, you won’t be shocked and you can use them whenever you want. Want to be cooler and fashionable in Chinese, just use these catchwords Nincha just taught you! Just remember to not be fooled by their literal meaning; sometimes they mean nothing and are used just for fun, you know, it’s a “duang” thing! So now you know, the Chinese are really creative with their language and everything is possible!