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Popular Chinese Internet Slang

Written by Chamcen Liu, edited by Hollie Sowden (Team!)

Chinese Internet Slang is changing frequently, but it’s a great thing to know if you use Chinese websites or services such as Weibo or Wechat (and want to be cool). Quite frankly, even if you don’t use either of those, learning new slang is just fun. Below are 8 of the most current and popular slang words used online in China, although some of them have also made their way over to the West, which is just duang!

If you know of any other Popular Chinese Internet Slang words that you want to share with us, please post them in the comments section below.

If you want to find out more about the characters used in the words, phrases and sentences you can click on the links associated with each that take you to the Online Dictionary

小鲜肉 (xiǎo xiān ròu)

Literally translated to ‘small fresh meat’, this new Chinese phrase describes young men between the ages of 15 and 25. They’re often handsome with muscles, but still seemingly innocent.
Chinese girls are going crazy over new US model, Lucky Blue Smith, who fits the description of 小鲜肉. Although there is no direct translation of this word into English it’s probably comparable to the word ‘hunk’ as in a ‘hunk of meat’.


Example sentence:

(zhè bù diàn yǐng de nán jué shì zuì jìn hěn hóng de yī gè xiǎo xiān ròu)
The leading actor of this movie is such a hunk!
View the sentence breakdown

萌萌哒 (méng méng dā)

Originally used on a Chinese website to describe someone weird and in need of medication, this phrase now means cute. It is most often used to describe something, usually an animal, or somebody that is extremely cute. Sometimes, adults use this to describe themselves when they do something childish.

Some people might describe the following images as 萌萌哒…




Example sentence:

(wǒ jīn tiān wàng le chī yào, gǎn jué zì jǐ méng méng dā!)
I forgot to take my medicine today, I feel that I cannot be more endearing!
View the sentence breakdown

心塞 (xīn sāi)

The complete version of this hot Chinese phrase is 心肌梗塞 (xīn jī gěng sè), but is commonly used as 心塞 for short. 心肌梗塞 literally means heart attack, and has become popular this year amongst netizens. It is less about physical pain but is often used to describe an extremely painful or negative feeling caused by something else.

The character has two meanings and two pronunciations. The first meaning that can be seen in 心肌梗塞 (heart attack) is ‘to stop up’ and uses the pinyin ‘sè’. However, often when netizens play on words to create new meanings the pronunciation may be changed to better suit the feeling or intent. So, once the original 心肌梗塞 is shorted to 心塞, the pronunciation of 塞 becomes sāi. According to Chamcen, this this is done usually to suggest the phrase or slang is less serious than its actual meaning (to have an actual heart attack) and also becomes more comfortable to speak.

If you look at the picture below, you can see the figure with the plunger over the heart. Plunger in Chinese is 马桶塞 (mǎ tǒng sāi). The third character 塞, is the same one found in 心塞 and adds to the humour and lighthearted nature of the slang.


Example sentence:

(zhè bù jù de fǎn pài zuì hòu hái huó zhe, zhēn ràng rén xīn sāi.)
The villain of the show is still alive, I feel like I’m having a heart attack.
View the sentence breakdown


Duang! is simply an onomatopoeic sound used to emphasize how amazing something is.
The word recently became popular when a fake shampoo advertisement endorsed by Jackie Chan was re edited with the popular “magical” song ‘我的滑板鞋’ (wǒ de huá bǎn xié), ‘My Skateboard Shoes’. Duang! is used to describe the effect of Jackie Chan’s hair after he has used the shampoo.

You can watch the video below:

Although no Chinese character actually exists for this word. Chinese netizens eventually created the character. The character is made up of the two characters 成 and 龙, the Chinese name of Jackie Chan, although the character as a whole cannot be typed or found in a Chinese dictionary.


Example sentence:

(zhè ge yóu xì zhēn hǎo wán, huà zhì hǎo hǎo duang, rén wù hǎo hǎo duang, lǐ miàn de yīn xiào dōu shì duang~duang~duang~)
This game is so fun; the picture quality is perfect, the game characters are cool, and the sound effects are pretty amazing!
View the sentence breakdown

男神 (nán shén)

男神 was created and popularized within the last few years and is used to describe a man who is charming and attractive but most likely unattainable. It can also be used to describe the ‘perfect man’ (haha, sorry couldn’t resist), who is tall, good looking, and basically all the typical things women apparently want. There’s now a criteria online featuring 50 ideal traits for a man to have. If your man matches 30 of the 50, he’s definitely husband material!

Check out the 50 attributes a man needs to become a ‘god’…or have a massive ego…
My personal favourite is #29…

The closest English translation to this word is probably something like heartthrob, especially if the word is being used to describe an actor or model. This is quite an old-fashioned word so you can replace it with a noun of your choice after you look at the following picture…


The characters 女神 (nǚ shén) meaning ‘goddess’ are also used to describe women, but this term has existed for a long time (obviously).

Example sentence:
(wǒ nán shén shì yuē hàn ní dé pǔ.)
My heart throb is Johnny Depp.
View the sentence breakdown

女汉子 (nǚ hàn zi)

The English equivalent of this word is ‘tomboy’ or ‘manly woman’. When I first came into contact with this word sometime last year, I believed it had a negative meaning, but there many articles online that contradicts that idea as many women are proud to wear the 女汉子 label.

女汉子 often describes a manly woman who has some or all of the following traits: tough, independent, informal, open, forthright, fiery, less feminine, rude, able to take responsibility and does not take care of her personal presentation and grooming…

Here are 20 ‘habits’ a woman might have if she’s a 女汉子 that recently went viral.


Example sentence:
(tā jiù shì gè nǚ hàn zi gēn běn bù xū yào nán péng you.)
She’s such a tomboy, she doesn’t need boyfriend at all!
View the sentence breakdown

你行你上 (nǐ xíng nǐ shàng) You Can You Up

This Chinglish catch phrase was originally used by basketball fans defending Kobi Bryant for allegedly losing a Laker’s game. After a Bryant fan stood up to defend him by saying ‘You Can You Up’, the phrase quickly became popular with netizens.
The Urban Dictionary definition is as follows:

“Translated from Chinglish. aka If you can do it then you should go up and do it. It’s used against people who criticize others’ work, especially when the criticizer it not that much better. Often followed by “no can no BB”, which means “if you can’t do it then don’t even criticize it”.”

Example sentence:
A: “他不配赢得这场比赛。”
(tā bù peì yíng dé zhè chǎng bǐ sài)
“There is no way he can win that race.”
View the sentence breakdown

B: “你行你上啊.”
(nǐ xíng nǐ shàng a)
“You can you up”
View the sentence breakdown

不作死就不会死 (bù zuò sǐ jiù bù huì sǐ) No zuo no die

The Urban Dictionary states that:
“This phrase is of Chinglish origin. Means if you don’t do stupid things, they won’t come back and bite you in the ass. (But if you do, they most certainly will.) Zuo /zwo/ is a Chinese character meaning ‘act silly or daring (for attention)’”

The phrase has been changed and added to and many Chinese people use this in daily life. Some have even made short rhymes using the catchphrase:

No zuo no die why you try.
no try no high give me five.

Example sentence:

A: 那家伙昨天逃课了。
(nà jiā huo zuó tiān táo kè le.)
The guy skipped classes yesterday.
View the sentence breakdown

B: 他成功了吗?
(tā chéng gōng le ma?)
Did his plan pay off?
View the sentence breakdown

(lǎo shī fā xiàn le, suǒ yǐ jiào tā mā ma lái xué xiào tán huà. lìng wài hái ràng tā mā ma zhī dào le zhè cì kǎo shì tā méi guò.)
The teacher discovered and asked his mother to come to school for a talk. Then his mother found out that he did not pass an exam this time.
View the sentence breakdown

B: 不作死就不会死
(bù zuò sǐ jiù bù huì sǐ.)
No zuo no die.
View the sentence breakdown