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Trending Chinese Slang
What Chinese slang words are trending for 2022?! The post idea came from the question I often get from my students- “how do I sound like a native speaker?” In addition to words learned from textbooks, the important thing to sound like a native is to pick up Chinese slang words. It happens when you feel you know every single word in a phrase, but when they are combined, you are not so sure what it means. It’s most likely it’s Chinese slang.
Chinese slang might vary from area to generation, and be influenced by some special events, such as current events with celebrities or popular TV shows. In this blog post, I am going to introduce three big categories of Chinese slang words: Chinese Internet slang (Chinese slang with letters), Chinese slang with numbers, and Chinese slang in general.
Internet Slang with Letters
Chinese Internet slang words take place mostly in social media in China. The popular social media in China is WeChat, Sina Weibo, Tencent QQ. Of course, Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter also have a huge pool of users too.
On social media in China, a lot of Chinese Slang with letters is used. Why letters, instead of characters? Where do the letters come from? The letters are mostly from acronyms of pinyin of slang words. Below is the trending Chinese Internet slang recently.
- YYDS (永远的神)(永远滴神)
The YYDS meaning in Chinese is eternal god. YYDS is acronym for Yǒng Yuǎn De Shén (永远的神). It’s similar to “the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T)” in English slang. This phrase is used to praise an object, something or someone awesome like an eternal god. If you want to say extraordinary, magnificent, amazing, etc., you may use YYDS instead.
这首歌他唱的真好听， YYDS呀！(zhè shǒu gē tā chàng de zhēn hǎo tīng, YYDS ya!)
He sings this song so well, like an eternal god!
- XSWL (笑死我了)
The Chinese slang, XSWL, is from the acronym “xiào sǐ wǒ le ” in pinyin. The literal meaning of XSWL is “laugh to death” which refer to something so funny and hilarious, that the person is laughing so hard.
他刚才说的笑话很好笑， XSWL！(tā gāng cái shuō de xiào huà hěn hǎo xiào, xiào sǐ wǒ le) The joke he just said was funny. I laugh to death (hilarious).
HHH(哈哈哈) is also an acronym for “hahaha” in pinyin. It’s the LOL in English.
我以为我的手机不见了， 后来发现， 手机我就拿在手上呢, HHH。(wǒ yǐ wéi wǒ de shǒu jī bù jiàn le, hòu lái fā xiàn, shǒu jiē wǒ jiù ná zài shǒu shang ne.)(I thought my cellphone is missing. I realized later that I was just holding it in my hand, HHH)
- NSDD (你说的对)
The meaning of NSDD is ” what you said is correct/right.” Again, it’s the acronym from its pinyin, nǐ shuō de duì. There are two ways of using it. It can be used in the scenario that you really agree with what the speaker said. However, you can also say it in a sarcastic way when you really don’t agree, but you also don’t want to argue with them.
Example 1 (really agree)
A: 看中文电影可以帮助你学习中文。 (kàn zhōng wén diàn yǐng kě yǐ bāng zhù nǐ xué xí zhōng wén)(Watching Chinese movies can help you learn Chinese.)
B: NSDD。 (nǐ shuō de duì )
What you said is right.
Example 2 (in a sarcastic way)
A: (scenario of a parent is nagging a child)
你应该整理房间， 保持干净， 认真读书， 每天做作业。
(nǐ yīng gāi zhěng lǐ fáng jiān, bǎo chí gān jìng, rèn zhēn dú shū, měi tiān zuò zuò yè )
(You should tidy up your room, keep it clean, study hard, and do homework every day.)
B: 好， 好， NSDD (okay, okay, what you said is correct.)
- SZD (是真的)
The meaning of SZD in Chinese is “it’s real.” SZD is the abbreviation for its pinyin, “shì zhēn de.”
A: 你真的想学游泳吗？(nǐ zhēn de xiǎng xué yóu yǒng ma?)
(Do you really want to learn Chinese?)
B: 对呀， SZD, 我已经买好泳衣了。(duì ya, shì zhēn de, wǒ yǐ jīng mǎi hǎo yǒng yī le.) (Yes, it’s real, I already bought a swim suit. )
- PLJJ (漂亮姐姐) and PLGG (漂亮哥哥)
What is PLJJ? It literally means “pretty sisters” and refers to pretty ladies. This term comes from pinyin “piào liang jiě jiě.” What is PLGG? The literal meaning is “pretty brothers” for the pinyin “piào liang gē ge.” It refers to good-looking guys. People say PLJJ/PLGG to give compliments on good-looking people.
我今天遇到了一个PLJJ，好开心。(wǒ jīn tiān yù dào le yī ge piào liang jiě jie, hǎo kāi xīn. ) (I ran into a pretty lady, so happy.)
- QSWL (气死我了)
QSWL (气死我了) means “extremely angry,” and the literal meaning is “angry to death.” Again, this is an acronym of its pinyin-qì sǐ wǒ le.
- DBQ (对不起)
DBQ (对不起) means sorry and it’s from the abbreviation of the pinyin-duì bu qǐ.
Chinese Slang With Numbers
There is quite a few Chinese slang with numbers that are popular lately. People often like to use Chinese slang in a text, and that’s why it’s also called Chinese texting slang. Essentially, those terms can sound like numbers in a way, and it’s so much easier to text or type numbers, instead of characters or pinyin. Therefore, Chinese slang with numbers is used.
- What does 520 mean in a text?
It means “I love you” in Chinese. 520 sounds like (wǒ ài nǐ 我爱你) which is “I love you.” This particular slang has been around for a long time that is so widely used.
- What does 521 mean in Chinese?
It means “I am willing to,” because it sounds like “wǒ yuàn yì 我愿意” which is “I am willing to” in Chinese.
- What does 666 mean in China?
It means something or someone is very cool, awesome, and incredible. 666 is used because the number 666 (liù liù liù 六六六) is exactly the same pronunciation as “liù liù liù 溜溜溜” which is the slang for “cool/smooth” In addition, 666 could also mean “niú niú niú 牛牛牛” which is another slang for “cool.”
- What does 484 mean in Chinese slang?
It means “is it real” as a question. It’s because it sounds like “shì bù shì (是不是)” in Chinese.
- What does 555 mean in Chinese?
555 refers to the crying sound. In characters, it’s written as 呜呜呜 (wū wū wū ). In Chinese texting slang, you can view it as a person crying or whining, pretending to be pitiful as a way to joke around or flirt around.
(Scenario: The boyfriend forgot to buy a cup of bubble tea for his girlfriend)
The girlfriend says 555, 我会很渴。(wū wū wū, wǒ huì hěn kě)(Pitiful crying sound, I will be so thirsty.) This intention is just to joke around or flirt around with her boyfriend. The 555 in texting makes the boyfriend know that she is not really upset, just joking around.
- What does 1314 mean?
It means “forever.” 1314 sounds like (yī shēng yī shì 一生一世) which is forever in Chinese.
Example: I love you 1314.
- What does 88 mean?
It means “bye bye ( bāi bāi 拜拜).” It’s actually from the English pronunciation of “bye.” Don’t you think it’s so much easier to text 88, rather than bye-bye or 拜拜？！
- What does 250 mean?
It stands for “èr bǎi wǔ 二白五” in Chinese. It’s to say a person is an idiot/stupid. It also describes a person who is bold and acts without thinking twice. It is a slightly demeaning word, but not in a super harsh way of saying it in Chinese.
- What does 514 mean in Chinese?
It means “I want to die.” 514 sounds like wǒ yào sǐ 我要死 which is “I want to die.” Note, the number 1 can be pronounced as yāo which makes it sounds like the word “want (yào).” Please don’t take it literally. It’s simply an exaggerated way to express disappointed feelings.
我考试只得了七十分， 514。 (wǒ kǎo shì zhǐ dé le qī shí fēn, 514)
I only got a score of 70 on my exam, 514.
- What does 94 mean in Chinese?
94 means “exactly, precisely” because it sounds like “就是jiù shì” which is “exactly, precisely.”
A: 这是你想要听的歌吗？(zhè shì nǐ xiǎng yào tīng de gē ma ?) (Is this the song you want to listen?)
B: 94 (jiù shì) (Exactly)
Besides Internet slang and slang with numbers, what are some other slang words in Chinese? Below are some words that you might hear frequently.
- 宅男(zhái nán )/宅女(zhái nǚ )
宅男 means guys who like to stay at home to play video games and don’t like to go out. 宅 literally means “house or residence”, and 男means “guys/males.” It normally refers to people who stay at home all day long to play video games, watch TV, just hang around and do nothing at home after work or even on the weekends. On the same logic, 宅女is the term for ladies/female in this scenario. (女means ladies/females)
(tā zhēn de shì yī ge zhái nán, měi tiān zhǐ ài dāi zài jiā li dǎ diàn dòng yóu xì.)
(He is really a zhái nán, and only loves to stay at home to play video games every day. )
- 凡尔赛 (fán ěr sài)
The buzzword 凡尔赛 (fán ěr sài) means humblebrag. The literal meaning is Versailles, but it’s not referring to the place in France at all. It’s to describe behaviors people pretend to complain about, but they are actually showing off in a subtle way. The term is relatively new and has become popular since 2021.
(měi cì wǒ cóng wǒ jiā de wò shì zǒu dào chú fáng, dōu yào zǒu shí fēn zhōng, zhēn de hǎo lèi ya.)
(Every time I walk from the living room to the kitchen at my home, I need to walk for 10 minutes. It’s so tiring. )
B: 你在凡尔赛。(nǐ zài fán ěr sài.) (You are humble bragging. )
- 吃土 (chī tǔ)
吃土 (chī tǔ) means “eat dirt” literally. This s an exaggerated and joking way to describe how poor a person is (normally because they spend all the money on things)- to the degree that they can’t afford anything, and don’t have money to buy food, so they only “eat dirt.”
( wǒ yǐ jīng bǎ qián dōu huā guāng le, wǒ zhè ge yuè yào chī tǔ le.)
(I already spent all the money. I will have to “eat dirt” this month.)
- 男神(nán shén)/女神(nǚ shén)
女神(nǚ shén) literally means “female god” and男神(nán shén) literally means “male god.” Therefore, 女神(nǚ shén) means goddess and refers to ladies who are so pretty and have a beautiful appearance. 男神(nán shén) refers to guys who are like Prince Charming with handsome looks.
(zhè ge gē shǒu huì chàng gē, yě hěn piào liang, shì wǒ xīn zhōng de nǚ shén. )
(This singer sings well, also pretty. She’s the goddess in my mind.)
- 吃错药(chī cuò yào)
吃错药(chī cuò yào) literally means “eat the wrong medicine.” It describes somebody acting not like themselves or having abnormal behaviors for some reason.
- 卖萌(mài méng)
卖萌(mài méng) literally means “to see the cuteness.” It’s used to say people show off their cuteness in order to get attention.
- 靠谱(kào pǔ)
靠谱(kào pǔ) means “reliable” The literal meaning is “lean on music sheets.” The reason why it used “music sheets” is that music sheets represent the rationality side of things. When someone is rational, normally he/she is realizable and trusted.
- Finger Heart Gesture
Finger heart gesture is not slang, but it’s definitely a popular gesture in young generations these days. The thumb and index finger touch together to show the heart shape. It means sending love and hugs. It’s originally from South Korea when three actresses started showing hearts this way. It then became popular in Asia.
- 吃瓜 (chī guā )
吃瓜 (chī guā ) means “the behavior of outsiders just watching/listening/following the gossip, scandals, or any events without sharing their own opinions or really looking into what happened.” The literal meaning is “to eat sunflower seeds.” Why eat sunflower seeds? It’s because, in the older generation, people tend to like to eat sunflower seeds as a snack while they watch TV shows. Therefore, the slang implies that the crowd is just watching as outsiders.
- 闪婚 (shǎn hūn)
闪婚 (shǎn hūn) means “to get married after only meeting for a short period of time.” It’s the abbreviation of 闪电结婚(shǎn diàn jié hūn), lightning-speed marriage. 闪电(shǎn diàn) literally means “lightning”, and 结婚(jié hūn) literally means “to get married.”
In short, there are so many Chinese slang words out there. My final suggestion would be to immerse yourself in Chinese social media, Chinese TV shows, news, and current events and make friends with locals. All of these will help you to gain more understanding of Chinese slang words as well as the Chinese language in general.
I would love to hear which one is your favorite. Comment below to let me know!
If you are interested in knowing more about 4-word idioms, check out the story of mamahuhu.
If interested in fundamental vocabulary, this is the post for you. 130 Basic Phrases That You Can’t Miss
Don’t forget the Top 10 Tips to Learn Chinese.