Looking to spice up your Chinese language skills and impress your friends with some cool and casual phrases? Learning slang expressions can be a fun and exciting way to take your language proficiency to the next level. Get ready to add some serious sass to your Chinese vocabulary!
When you’re learning Chinese, discovering 流行用语, aka Chinese slang expressions (liú xíng yòng yǔ) is a fun and interesting way to get a deeper understanding of the language and culture. However, before diving in, it’s important to know which phrases are appropriate to use in different situations. In this article, we’ll be exploring some of the most interesting, quirky, and downright wacky slang expressions in Chinese to know in 2023, along with their meanings and how to use them in context. Prepare to spice up your Chinese vocabulary with some seriously meowy slang!
1. Chinese slang: 蒟蒻 (jǔ ruò)
First up in your collection of popular words to know is 蒟蒻, a self-deprecating slang term used to refer to oneself as a noob or a newbie.
You’ll see it often used in online gaming communities and online. If you’re a new player to a game, for instance, you might say:
Wǒ shì jǔ ruò, hái qǐng duō duō guān zhào
I’m a noob, please take care of me.
Here’s how to use this slang expression in context:
Nǐ dǎ de hǎo làn a，shì bù shì jǔruò a?
You play so poorly, are you a newbie?
Méi cuò，wǒ cái gāng kāi shǐ xué ne
B: Yes, I’m just getting started.
Fun fact: Look up 蒟蒻 and you’ll see pictures of konjac, that calorie-free plant that was a popular noodle substitute a while back.
How did we get to “noob” from there? Konjac in Chinese (蒟蒻 (jǔ ruò) sounds like 巨[jù] 弱[ruò], which means very weak. From there, it’s easy to picture how online, especially, this came to mean “noob”.
2. 酱紫 (jiàng zǐ)
Next up is another great buzzword to know is 酱紫.
Because it sounds very similar to 这样子, it also means “like this” or “in this way”. The difference is that you will often use it playfully or sarcastically.
For example, if someone says “你怎么不去问问他呢? (nǐ zěn me bù qù wèn wèn tā ne?) which means “Why don’t you go ask him?”, you could sarcastically respond with “酱紫啊，太感谢你的好建议了” (jiàng zǐ a, tài gǎn xiè nǐ de hǎo jiàn yì le), which means “Oh, great idea, thanks so much!”
Jīntiān yào kāihuì，nǐ zěn me chuān dé zhè me suí biàn？
We have a meeting today, why are you dressed so casually?
Jiàng zǐ bù xíng ma?
What’s wrong with that?
3. Chinese slang expression: 吃瓜 (chī guā)
Meaning “to eat watermelon seeds,” you’ll find 吃瓜 (chī guā) is a meowvelous slang expression to use to describe someone who is watching a situation from the sidelines without directly getting involved. It’s often used to describe people who are gossiping or watching drama unfold without participating in it themselves.
It’s purrfect to talk about bystanders or gawkers. For example, you can say:
Tāmen liǎng gè rén chǎojià le，wǒmen dōu zài yī páng chī guā kàn xì
The two of them were arguing, and we were all standing by watching and waiting to see what would happen
Chī guā qúnzhòng kàn rènao.
The crowd watches the excitement with interest.
Curious to see 吃瓜 (chī guā) used in context? Here are two dialogues using it:
Zhège xīnwén zhēn chě.
This news is sensationalized.
Bié shuō le, wǒmen zhǐshì chīguā qúnzhòng.
Let’s not say anything, we’re just bystanders watching the drama.
Here’s another way to use this Chinese slang expression:
A: 你听说了吗？ 王老师辞职了。
Nǐ tīngshuō le ma？ Wáng lǎoshī cízhí le.
Have you heard? Teacher Wang resigned.
Méi yǒu，zěn me huí shì ？
No, what happened?
Bù zhīdào，wǒ yě shì gāng gang zài Wēibó shàng kàn dào de，zánmen chīguā kàn rènao ba ！
I don’t know. I just saw it on Weibo. Let’s just watch and see what happens.
4. 搞笑 (gǎo xiào)
搞笑 means “funny” or “humorous” and is often used to describe comedic content. For example, if you watch a funny video on Chinese social media, you might say “这个视频真的太搞笑了” (zhè ge shì pín zhēn de tài gǎo xiào le), which means “This video is really funny.”
Zhè ge shìpín hǎo gǎoxiào le
This video is so funny!
Wǒ yě jué de xiào de wǒ dùzi téngI think so too, I laughed until my stomach hurt.
⚠️Think about who you’re talking to when using this Chinese-language expression: 搞笑 gǎo xiào could be considered somewhat informal and may not be appropriate in certain professional or formal settings.
5. The popular expression: 神犇 (shén bēn)
You use the slang term 神犇 (shén bēn) to describe someone extremely talented or skilled in a particular area. Imagine, if you know someone who is a talented musician, you might say to brag about them to your friends “他真是一个音乐神犇” (tā zhēn shì yī gè yīn yuè shén bēn). That means “He’s a real musical genius.”
Here’s how you can use this slang expression in context:
Tā zhēn de shì gè shénbēn，shénme dōu huì
He’s really a genius, he can do anything.
Shì a， wǒ dōu yǒu diǎn pèi fú tā le。
Yeah, I’m starting to admire him.
Fun fact: 神 means “god”. And because the character 犇 contains three times the character “牛” (cow”), and something “牛” is awesome in Chinese, this expression 神犇 took on the meaning of “十分牛”, that is to say, “extremely good”, to the point of being “god-like”.
6. Celebrate with the buzzword 撒花 (sā huā)
Want to celebrate something? Then, 撒花 (sā huā) is the expression you’ll want to use. It’s similar to saying “hooray” or “yay” in English.
So, for instance, if you’re told your friend won the lottery or another piece of good news, you might respond with 撒花 (sā huā!), which means “Hooray!”
Wǒ tōngguò le kǎoshì，sāhuā！
I passed the exam, celebrate with me!
Gōng xǐ gōng xǐ ， yào hǎo hǎo qìng zhù yī xià
Congratulations, we should definitely celebrate!
7. 摸鱼 (mō yú)
摸鱼 (mō yú) is a slang term you use to describe someone who is slacking off or goofing off. You’ll find it particularly handy to describe a situation where someone is not working hard or as diligently as they should be.
For example, if your colleague at work in China is taking a long break and not doing their work, you might say:
Tā jīntiān yīzhí zài mōyú
He’s been slacking off all day.
Here’s how you can use this popular expression in context:
Nǐ zuì jìn zài máng shén me ne?
What have you been busy with lately?
Zuì jìn shàng bān tài lèi le, jīng cháng mō yú
I’ve been really tired at work lately, so I’ve been slacking off a lot.
8.双倍奉还 (shuāng bèi fèng huán)
双倍奉还 is an idiom in Chinese that means “to pay back twice as much” or “to retaliate with double the force.” It’s often used to describe situations where someone has been wronged or hurt and is seeking justice or revenge. For example, if someone steals from you, you might say “我一定让他双倍奉还” (wǒ yī dìng ràng tā shuāng bèi fèng huán), which means “I will make him pay back twice as much.”
This expression can also be used in a playful way, such as when someone gives you a gift or does something nice for you. In this case, you might say “谢谢你的礼物，我会双倍奉还的” (xiè xiè nǐ de lǐwù, wǒ huì shuāng bèi fèng huán de), which means “Thank you for your gift, I will repay you doubly.”
Here’s another dialogue showing you how to use this expression:
Nǐ qiàn wǒ de qián，shén me shí hou huán
A: You owe me money, when will you pay me back?
Bù yòng jí，wǒ huì jǐn kuài hái nǐ，shuāng bèi fèng huán.
Don’t worry, I’ll repay you as soon as possible, with double the amount.
A cultural note on slang expressions in Chinese
Slang expressions are an important part of the Chinese language and culture. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, using slang is a great way to connect with native speakers, add some personality to your language skills, and maybe even score a few laughs along the way.
Just remember, these phrases can be playful and interesting, as long as you use them appropriately and stay aware of their nuances and connotations. While these phrases can be tons of fun, it’s important to be aware of their connotations and usage contexts so that you can use them with confidence and respect. When in doubt, for instance, exercise discretion, and check what setting you’re in. In professional and formal settings, particularly, it’s advisable to err on the side of caution and use more neutral language.
And once you have that in mind, especially when you’re with friends you trust, purrfect! Give these slang expressions a try in a safe space, with your friends, so they can tell you without being shocked if you screwed up using a word! Go ahead and start using these phrases in your daily life, impress your friends with your cool Chinese slang, and don’t forget to have fun with it!
On that note, there you have it, folks! We hope you’ve enjoyed this wild ride through some of the most popular and fun slang expressions in Chinese to know in 2023.
And one more thing…
With Ninchanese, you get a complete method to learn Chinese, which has you speaking, reading, writing, and more in Chinese. What’s more, whether you’re a beginner or an advanced learner, there’s content your level on Ninchanese and plenty more!
The Nincha Team