33 Funny Words in Chinese

Let’s try something a bit lighter today. Here’s 33 words in Chinese I’ve collected over the years that I think are pretty funny when translated literally. Some of them also reveal a little bit about Chinese culture and thinking. Enjoy!

33 Funny Words in Chinese

  1. A computer is an “electric brain” (电脑).
  2. A cactus is an “immortal man’s palm” (仙人掌).
  3. A chameleon is a “colour-changing dragon” (变色龙).
  4. A pet is a “spoilt thing” (宠物).
  5. A boss is an “old board” (老板).
  6. A van is a “bread car” (面包车).
  7. A work of erotica is a “yellow book” (黄书).
  8. A porn is a “hairy film” (毛片).
  9. A breast stroke is a “frog swim” (蛙泳).
  10. A woman who has a successful career but remains single is a “leftover woman” (剩女).
  11. A woman who is easy to seduce is like “instant noodles” (方便面).
  12. A mistress is a “little 3” (小三).
  13. A hot babe is a “spicy little sister” (辣妹).
  14. A dildo is a “massage stick” (按摩棒).
  15. If you date someone, you “talk about love” (谈恋爱).
  16. If you come on to someone, you “eat tofu” (吃豆腐).
  17. If you give someone a hickey, you “plant a strawberry” (种草莓).
  18. If you cheat on your partner, you “go off the rails” (出轨).
  19. If your partner cheats on you, you “wear a green hat” (戴绿帽子).
  20. If you stand someone up, you “release a pigeon” (放鸽子).
  21. If you put on weight, you “get lucky” (发福).
  22. If you get rabies, you get the “crazy dog disease” (狂犬病).
  23. If you leave something to the last minute, you “grab the Buddha’s foot” (抱佛脚).
  24. If you’re fired from your job, you have your “squid fried” (炒鱿鱼).
  25. If you make things hard for someone by abusing your power, you make them “wear small shoes” (穿小鞋).
  26. If something has nothing to do with you, you say you’re just here “to buy soy sauce” (打酱油).
  27. When you do something immediately, you do it “on a horse” (马上)
  28. When you encourage and cheer someone on, you urge them to “add oil” (加油).
  29. You don’t wear contact lens, you wear “invisible glasses” (隐形眼镜).
  30. You don’t take ecstasy tablets, you take “shaking head tablets” (摇头丸).
  31. Your fourth finger is not your ring finger, but a “nameless finger” (无名指).
  32. You’re not a country bumpkin, but a “dirt bun” (土包子).
  33. Your way of making a living is not your bread and butter, but your “rice bowl” (饭碗).

6 Comments to "33 Funny Words in Chinese"

  1. Youlong's Gravatar Youlong
    13/05/2015 - 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Superb. Your blog is awesome. Please keep posting great stuff.

  2. 31/07/2015 - 1:35 pm | Permalink

    Interesting topic! May I put a link to my Chinese teaching blog?
    I think it will beneficial to my students and other teachers too, thank you.

  3. Anna's Gravatar Anna
    08/08/2015 - 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for that! Would u mind to include the pinyin as well? I’m (still) a beginner 🙁 thans!

  4. Greg's Gravatar Greg
    16/12/2015 - 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Don’t forget “avocado.”

  5. Yogi Naidoo's Gravatar Yogi Naidoo
    23/07/2016 - 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant. Thank You

  6. James Dolton's Gravatar James Dolton
    15/12/2016 - 1:00 am | Permalink

    These are fantastic! your blog is great.

    isn’t no. 26 in relation to a meme where they tried to conduct an on-the-street style interview with a 老人 and he just refused to answer their questions and said ‘i’m just here to buy some soy sauce’?
    Just that the others are the literal translations historically where that one I think entered the language fairly recently and is also being used metaphorically, similar to ‘grass mud horse’.

    The man genuinely was just uninterested in what they were asking him and just wanted to buy some soy sauce, which is very in keeping with my experiences of China.

    Keep up the good work anyway!

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