12 Illicit Drugs in English and Chinese

The following is a list I’ve collected of the most common illicit drugs in the West, including both the English names, and Chinese translations and pinyin.

This collection should be useful for translating and interpreting students practicing in legal, police and medical contexts. I would recommend you learn all of this vocabulary if you want to be confident in this particular area.

The common drug name is provided in bold; alternative names are given in parentheses. I look forward to hearing from your corrections and additions if you have any – I’m definitely no expert in this area!


12 Illicit Drugs in English and Chinese

  1. Marijuana (cannabis, weed; pot): 大麻 dàmá
  2. Ecstasy (X): 摇头丸 yáotóuwán
  3. Prescription drugs: 处方药 chǔfāngyào
  4. Methamphetamine (meth; crystal meth; ice): 甲基苯丙胺 jiǎjī běnbǐng’àn (chemical name); 冰毒 bīngdú (common street name)
  5. Cocaine (coke): 可卡因 kěkǎyīn
  6. Heroin (smack):  海洛因 hǎiluòyīn; 白粉 bǎifěn
  7. Painkillers (analgesics): 镇痛药 zhèntòngyào
  8. LSD (acid): 迷幻剂 míhuànjì
  9. Opium: 鸦片 yāpiàn
  10. Ketamine (special K): 氯胺酮 lǜ’āntóng (chemical name); K粉 k fěn (common street name)
  11. Inhalants: 吸入剂 xīrùjì
  12. Magic mushrooms (shrooms): 迷幻蘑菇 míhuàn mógu

9 Comments to "12 Illicit Drugs in English and Chinese"

  1. daofeishi's Gravatar daofeishi
    31/10/2011 - 3:50 pm | Permalink

    I think I’ve heard ketamine referred to as K粉 too.

  2. a's Gravatar a
    01/11/2011 - 5:44 am | Permalink

    I had heard cocaine referred to as simply 白粉 before, but don’t know how common that is.

  3. 01/11/2011 - 11:36 am | Permalink

    Opium is a loanword? Considering China’s history, I never would have guessed that.

  4. Kaiwen's Gravatar Kaiwen
    02/11/2011 - 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Second k粉 for ketamine.
    Ecstacy can also be referred to as 快乐(丸) — see the MC Hotdog song 《快乐》 for this and other nicknames (http://cn.azlyricdb.com/lyrics/m/MC+HotDog-%BF%EC%C0%D6-53877).

  5. Johnny's Gravatar Johnny
    28/11/2011 - 10:38 am | Permalink

    * Heroin (smack): 海洛因 hǎiluòyīn
    白粉 (bǎifěn) is commonly used, but 海洛因 works perfectly fine too.

    *Ketamine (special K): 氯胺酮 lǜ’āntóng
    Unless you’re talking to a chemist, no one would understand what on earth 氯胺酮 is. K 粉 (k fěn) is always used.

    ‘白粉’ to cocaine is as common as ‘weed’ or ‘pot’ to ‘marijuana’. Either one works, but the former is definitely more colloquial.

  6. Cici's Gravatar Cici
    09/12/2011 - 11:51 pm | Permalink

    I do like your classes and your blog Mr. professional bilinguals !! your mandarin pronuciation is impressive, there are a lot of interesting topics on your blog. btw, my first impression of you was…. wow…. his hairstyle is…. so cool~

  7. Tdot's Gravatar Tdot
    16/12/2016 - 2:22 am | Permalink

    This is hilarious. I’m a former native of Xiamen until the age of six and now a citizen of Toronto Ontario. I’m fluently bilingual as well. I still go back to visit every now and then.

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