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Mandarin Go | Funny Chinese Words and Phrases


沉鱼落雁 (chén yú, luò yàn)

We’ve all heard the phrase “drop dead gorgeous."This term is typically used to describe incredibly beautiful women, though it can also be used to describe particularly handsome men. It's an odd term when you think about it: a Describing people as so beautiful that they literally are murdering people with their looks is a strange compliment to give.

However, it's not quite as strange as the Mandarin version: 沉鱼落雁(chén yú,luò yàn),which means“sink fish, drop goose”or“ beautiful enough to sink the fish and make geese fall from the sky.“This idiom originates from the ancient Taoist author 莊子 (Zhuāng Zǐ), who, interestingly enough, has written a lot of stuff about fish.


拍马屁 (pāi mǎ pì)

You want to do what to my horse?! “Kiss-ass,”“suck-up” or “brown noser” are common terms used in the West to refer to someone who treats someone of authority with more kindness or generosity in order to fall into their good graces. Alternatively, the Chinese refer to the kiss-ass as one who 拍马屁, or beats a horse’s butt.

你皮子痒(nǐ pí zi yǎng!)

This common term is still often used. Out of context (and within context as well),it’s nothing short of hilarious.If you bump into a tough character on the street or insult somebody, they might say 你皮子痒, or “your skin looks itchy."This expression is used when expressing a desire to beat someone up.

落汤鸡 (luò tāng jī)

What a damper. 落汤鸡, meaning“drop soup chicken,”or“a chicken who falls into soup"is used to describe somebody who trips and falls into water or gets caught in the rain.

有钱就是任性(yǒu qián jiù shì rèn xìng!)

有钱就是任性! or“Got cash, can do what I want!”is an expression used by wealthy Chinese people, or the average joe who just got their pay check and begins to behave recklessly or act immature.

This expression comes from a real event that became a meme a couple years ago in which a rich man was being scammed by a pharmaceutical company.The man kept going with the charade long after he discovered it was a scam, just because he wanted to see how far they'd go; he was so incredibly rich that it didn't matter.

傻蛋 (shǎ dàn)

A very common and low key hilarious insult in Mandarin is 傻蛋 or “stupid egg."Depending on the situation, this can either be a playful insult when a friend does something dumb or straight up fight in words if said to a stranger.

二百五 (èr bǎi wǔ)

二百五,or “250,”is a popular Mandarin Chinese slang insult with a pretty hefty history behind it.

The meaning behind the simple insult is an old tale about a king.The king’s dear friend was assassinated in the night and he wished to find who the killer was.The king posted a widely-publicized request to hire an assassin to kill  the(already dead) friend in question.Soon after, four men showed up to claim 250 coins each. Naturally, the men had outed themselves as the ones who already killed the king' s friend and they themselves were given the cash and then killed.

“250” refers to someone who does something dumb or ill-advised.

长舌妇 (cháng shé  fù)

“Sharp-tongued woman,”“busy body” or “buttin sky” are Western terms for a woman who enjoys gossiping about others’ business and personal lives. In Mandarin, such a woman would be 长舌妇, or “long tongue woman.”Sounds more like a creepy monster from China’s cousins to the east, Japan.

Duāng!  Duāng!  Duāng!

How can one simple word have so many different obscure meanings? Duang! can translate as something like “ta-da!“and is a Mandarin internet slang word with no official 汉字 (hànzì) or Chinese character to identify it. The term can refer to a positive exclamation, something that’s boring or the sound one makes when tripping and falling.






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