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At the end of each year, a list of the ‘hottest’ words and phrases from the year are posted on Chinese social media. Just like trending memes on Twitter, Chinese social media has its own version of scathing cultural remarks and self-mockery.
Here are some 5 of the hottest Chinese slang of 2017 with an explanation of 15 of our favourites, complete with example sentences below:
佛系… (fó xì) ‘Buddhist style’…
This phrase is used to describe “doing something in a ‘love & peace’ way”. People who have ‘buddhist style’ aren’t interested in arguments, feeling anger, or fighting and often express a ‘yes and no’ attitude of nonchalance, no matter whether they win or lose at life.
佛系口头禅，“好” / ”都行.” (fó xì kǒu tóu chán, “hǎo” / dōu xíng)
A common saying of ‘Buddhist style’: “Fine” / “any is OK”
佛系员工，不给公司添堵，不为公司赚钱。(fó xì yuán gōng, bù gěi gōng sī tiān dǔ, bù wèi gōng sī zhuàn qián)
Workers of ‘Buddhist style’, don’t give their company trouble, but don’t earn money for the company, either.
佛系结婚，“我们结婚吧。” “都行，看你。” (fó xì jié hūn, “wǒ men jié hūn ba” “dōu xíng, kàn nǐ)
Buddhist style marriage: “Let’s get married.” “OK with me, but it’s up to you.”
尬聊 (gà liáo) ‘Awkward Conversation’
We’ve all been there. This phrase refers to two or more people involved in awkward ‘small talk’. No one knows what to talk about and are unable to think of a suitable topic to discuss often resulting in the atmosphere feeling icy’. It can also be used to express a situation when one person puts a ‘foot in their mouth’ and the others try to change the subject.
我昨天遇到的那个采访对象，太高冷了，我俩全程尬聊，聊得我想原地爆炸。(wǒ zuó tiān yù dào de nèi gè cǎi fǎng duì xiàng, tài gāo lěng le, wǒ liǎng quán chéng gà liáo, liáo de wǒ xiǎng yuán dì bào zhà) The interviewee I met yesterday was too indifferent. We talked awkwardly throughout the entire interview, and I wanted to explode on the spot.
戏精 (xì jīng) Drama Queen or Attention Whore
This word is used to describe a person who is good at acting or likes to ‘grandstand’.
你是中央戏精学院毕业的吗？这么喜欢演。(nǐ shì zhōng yāng xì jīng
xué yuàn bì yè de ma? zhè me xǐ huan yǎn)
Did you graduate from The Royal Academy of ‘Drama Queen’? You really like ‘acting’.
This is a ‘pet name’ used for women or men who are warm, nice, beautiful or cute.
我今天钱包差点掉了，多亏一个漂亮的小姐姐提醒我。(wǒ jīn tiān qián bāo chà diǎn diào le, duō kuī yī gè piào liang de xiǎo jiě jie tí xǐng wǒ)
I almost lost my wallet today. I thanked a ‘little sister’, who reminded me.
Originally, 流量 (liú liàng) was an internet term, referring to a page frequently visited during a certain time, and demonstrating an important performance indicator of the product sales on that site. Now, the phrases refer to the ‘celebrity effect’ of the pop star. The more fans the star has, the higher commercial value they have.
Basically, this words refers to a star who is very popular, has a lot of fans, and whose movies are successful resulting in higher news click rates.
你偶像就是顶级流量啊，天天在微博热搜上挂着。(nǐ ǒu xiàng jiù shì dǐng jí liú liàng a, tiān tiān zài wēi bó rè sōu shàng guà zhe)
Your idol is the top ‘flow star’, they’re always trending on Weibo.
吸猫 (xī māo) Cat Taking
This phrase comes from the action of holding a cat up to you and taking a deep inhale 吸 (xī) and smelling the cat. However, the phrase refers to people who are crazy over cats, as though cats are a drug, hence the name ‘cat taking’.
This phrase can even be applied to those who don’t have their own cat or dog, but search Weibo (Chinese Twitter, or some other social media platform) for other people’s daily postings of their cat or dog to satisfy their cat / dog addiction. In China, this action is referred to as “云养猫” (yún yǎng māo) / “云养狗” (yún yǎng māo) which means to ‘feed a cat / dog in the cloud’. This originally comes from the internet term, 云计算 (yún jì suàn) = cloud computing.
– 你在干嘛？(nǐ zài gàn má) What are you doing?
– 日常吸猫。(rì cháng xī māo) Daily cat taking.
实锤 (shí chuí) Real Hammer
This refers to finding evidence of a sordid rumour, such as a movie star’s affair, with a photo, video, etc.
昨天在网上看到抖森和泰勒的实锤，我妹妹在哭了一晚上。(zuó tiān zài wǎng shàng kàn dào dǒu sēn hé tài lè de shí chuí, wǒ mèi mei zài kū le yī wǎn shang)
After she saw a photo of Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift on the internet, my little sister cried the whole night.
大吉大利，今晚吃鸡 (dà jí dà lì jīn wǎn chī jī) ”Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner”
This is originally from the movie ‘21’ in which they say ”Winner winner, Chicken dinner”. Afterwards, the game《PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS》, became extremely popular. If you win the game, it will show “大吉大利，今晚吃鸡”.
你的良心不会痛吗? (nǐ de liáng xīn bù huì tòng ma?) Will Your Conscience Hurt?
This sentence is used by a speaker who is asking if the creator of a bad precedent will feel guilty and sorry for their actions.
我摔断腿，你还笑那么开心，你的良心不会痛吗？！(wǒ shuāi duàn tuǐ, nǐ hái xiào nà me kāi xīn, nǐ de liáng xīn bù huì tòng de ma?)
I broke my legs, and you laughed loudly, will your conscience hurt?
我能怎么办，我也很绝望啊。(wǒ néng zěn me bàn, wǒ yě hěn jué wàng a) What can I do? I’m also desperate…
This sentence is to express someone who feels helpless or speechless and is always used in self-mockery.
– 你怎么还不找男朋友？(nǐ zěn me hái bù zhǎo nán péng you) Why don’t you find a boyfriend?
– 长得丑啊，我能怎么办，我也很绝望啊。(zhǎng de chǒu a,wǒ néng zěn me bàn, wǒ yě hěn jué wàng a) Because I’m ugly, what can I do? I’m also desperate…
我今天十排就输，我能怎么办，我也很绝望啊。(wǒ jīn tiān shí pái jiù shū, wǒ néng zěn me bàn, wǒ yě hěn jué wàng a)
I lost 9 out of 10 placement matches today, what can I do? I’m also desperate…
我可能X个假XX. (wǒ kě néng X gè jiǎ XX) I might X a fake X.
The origin of this sentence is different to the others and comes from the CSGO team (PC game team) members losing a game. They complained that the drinks they had were fake 喝了假酒 (hē le jiǎ jiǔ), and so later it became a phrase used to mock people who blame something else.
我男朋友已经三天没有联系我了，我可能是交了一个假男朋友。(wǒ nán péng you yǐ jīng sān tiān méi yǒu lián xì wǒ le, wǒ kě néng shì jiāo le yī gè jiǎ nán péng you)
My boyfriend did not contact me for three days, maybe I have a fake boyfriend.
为什么刚吃完中饭，我就饿了？我可能是吃了一顿假饭。(wèi shén me gāng chī wán zhōng fàn, wǒ jiù è le? Wǒ kě néng shì chī le yī dùn jiǎ fàn)
Why do I still feel hungry right after I ate lunch? Maybe I ate a fake meal.
是谁给你的勇气？梁静茹吗？！(shì shéi gěi nǐ de yǒng qì? Liáng jìng rú ma?) Who give you the courage, is it Liang Jingru?
This sentence is used to express someone who gets an unknown power to do something incredible or something that they would not normally be able to do. 梁静茹 (Liáng jìng rú) Liang Jingru is a famous singer, one of her popular song is 《勇气》(yǒng qì) ‘Courage’ in which there is a lyric “爱真的需要勇气” (ài zhēn de xū yào yǒng qì) Love really needs courage，“终于做了这个决定，别人怎么说我不理” (zhōng yú zuò le zhè ge jué dìng, bié rén zěn me shuō wǒ bù lǐ) Once I made the decision, I would not care what other people say.
当然是选择原谅她/他。(dāng rán shì xuǎn zé yuán liàng tā / tā) Of course, I chose to forgive her/him.
This sentence is originally a comfort saying spoken to people whose partner had an affair. Now it is commonly used to comment mockingly about this kind of situation. Note: Surely it will cause secondary damage to the person concerned so use it carefully. XP.
Related phrases to this are 原谅帽 (yuán liàng mào) ‘forgiveness hat’, a green hat and 原谅色 (yuán liàng sè) ‘forgiveness colour’, a green colour that often appears in the emojis and memes containing this slang). In Chinese culture, a green hat often signifies someone who has been cuckolded, and so the green ‘forgiveness’ hat mocks those who easily forgive their partner’s indiscretions.
贫穷限制了我的想象力。(pín qióng xiàn zhì le wǒ de xiǎng xiàng lì) Being Poor Limited My Imagination.
This sentence is self-mockery spoken by normal people, meaning you can not understand or imagine the world of a rich man.
你看脸书了吗？他家猫的生日礼物居然是一块劳力士手表。贫穷限制了我的想象力。(nǐ kàn liǎn shū le ma? Tā jiā māo de shēng rì shēng rì jū rán shì yī kuàil áo lì shì shǒu biǎo. pín qióng xiàn zhì le wǒ de xiǎng xiàng lì)
Did you see Facebook? His cat got a Rolex as a birthday gift. Being poor limited my imagination.
扎心了，老铁! (zhā xīn le, lǎo tiě) You’re pricking my heart, buddy!
This sentence is originally from a northeast China dialect and is used when someone’s words make you feel hurt or offended.
- 明天一起去逛街？(míng tiān yī qǐ qù guàng jiē) How about going shopping tomorrow?
- 没空！(méi kòng) I have no time!
- 你个万年单身狗怎么会没空！(nǐ gè wàn nián gǒu gǒu huì méi méi?) You’ve been single for so long, how could you be busy?
- 扎心了，老铁！(zhā xīn le, lǎo tiě) You’re pricking my heart, buddy!
You can share your favourite Chinese internet slang from 2017 in the comment section below! Why not check out some of our other slang articles?