English words with Chinese characteristics

Alia | February 25th, 2011 - 2:29 am

Chinese netizens are making up new English words based on very Chinese cultural phenomenon, making the foreign language a unique part of China’s online popular culture. These words are widely used across different social media in China, and sometimes even adopted by mainstream mass media.

Chinese pronunciation + English spell:


  • adj. Wow! Brilliant! Awesome! Cool! To the point!
  • Developed from Chinese word 给力 (gei li,), the No. 1 buzz word used to comment something.
  • Antonyms. ungeilivable (不给力, bu gei li )


  • adj. n. overdo something, being pretentious/superficial
  • Developed from Chinese word 装逼 (zhuang bi) /装B


  • adj. n. stupid @ss
  • Developed from Chinese word 傻逼 (sha bi) , also abbreviated as SB


  • adj. n. super smart, exceptional, very good at something
  • Developed from Chinese word 牛逼 (niu bi) , also abbreviated as NB

Fun Quote: How important it is to choose the right direction in life! It is the same B, going north, it becomes (NB) nuibility; going south, it becomes (SB) shability.


  • n. also referred as five cents, people who paid by the Chinese government to say good things about the government online
  • Developed from Chinese word 五毛 (wu mao)


  • v. don’t sway back and forth, stop making trouble and wasting time, avoid futile actions
  • Developed from Chinese word 折腾 (zhe teng)


  • n. used to refer to China’s high speed rail
  • Developed from Chinese word 动车 (dong che)


  • n. used to refer to government officials
  • Developed from Chinese word 干部 (gan bu)

English + English:


  • n. a word netizens use to describe themselves and the Chinese public in general. It is a citizen with no power, no background, no money, and no attention from the government.
  • Corresponding Chinese word 屁民 (pi min)


  • n. a word use to describe the young, low-income and sometimes unemployed population in big cities in China.  An antizen is usually in their 20s or early 30s, striving for a descent living in big cities and living in basements or extremely crowded shelters, just like an ant.
  • Corresponding Chinese word 蚂民 (yi min)


  • n. used to refer to corrupted government


  • n. used to refer to professors who speak ignorance or nonsense, especially when these professors speak in favor of certain stupid government policies


  • n. government departments under CCP.  In Chinese news, it is very common to hear the commentary that “Relevant department is responsible for XXX”, without ever mentioning which department it really is. This “relevant department” has been voted as the most mysterious department under CCP. Departyment is used to refer to this non-existent department.
  • Developed from Chinese word 有关部门 (you guan bu men)


  • adj. In Chinese news, public reaction to tragedies, disasters, scandalous news is always described as “calm”, “not emotional”, “no overreacting”. Emotionormal is used to refer to such state.
  • Developed from Chinese word 情绪稳定 (qing xu wen ding)


  • n. used to refer to properties sold at unbelievably high prices in big cities in China


  • n. used to refer to the kind of freedom one can enjoy in China.


  • n. homosexuals live happily ever after
  • Corresponding Chinese word 终成眷属 (zhong cheng juan shu)


  • v. used to describe the action of stealing vegetables from friends’ virtual farms in the popular social game Kaixin Farm developed by Kaixin001.com, a semi-copycat of Facebook.
  • Corresponding Chinese word 偷菜 (tou cai)


  • adj. used to describe nonsense or behaviors done due to extremely boredom
  • Corresponding Chinese word 蛋疼 (dan teng)


  • adj. calm, at ease
  • Corresponding Chinese word 蛋定 (dan ding)


  • v. similar to someone saying “speechless” when commenting something. Used to describe when someone is too surprised, disgusted, annoyed, disappointed, etc., to comment.
  • v. to imply a situation where there is no need to speak out and everybody knows what it is. Usually used to comment news about corruption or government scandals.
  • Corresponding Chinese idiom 笑而不语 (xiao er bu yu, meaning smile without words)

It is clear that some of these words are created for fun, while other s are created with bitterness and sarcasm.

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6 Responses to “English words with Chinese characteristics”

  1. [...] up winners of the 2013 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest. Shability (stupid) and other English words with Chinese characteristics. (via Languagehat) And it doesn’t include supercalifragilistic…and so on, but [...]

  2. Palo Alto Dave says:

    Nubility is already an English word:

    1. Ready for marriage; of a marriageable age or condition. Used of young women.
    2. Sexually mature and attractive. Used of young women.


    [Latin nbilis, from nbere, to take a husband.]

  3. Gold Coins says:

    Gold Coins…

    [...]English words with Chinese characteristics | Offbeat China[...]…

  4. man says:

    You mention such a great things here and it is always pleassure to read. Hope to hear more and learn from you.

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