Using online slang to chat can be great fun and instantly rewarding when employed correctly, but also extremely confusing if you're unfamiliar with it. Yes, you can always rely on common online acronyms like LOL or LMAO, but why not destroy those cultural barriers by using some Chinese slang instead?
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This isn't always easy, as Chinese Internet slang changes and evolves extremely fast. Almost every year there's a whole bunch of new phrases and words that appear from popular memes or just the everyday back and forth between gamers and forum users. If you don’t use Weibo or other Chinese social media, below is a list of popular buzzwords that have been borne of the Chinese Internet since 2015 (be warned, most of them come from gaming).
Meaning: Laughter, LOL
233 first originated from mop.com, a Chinese online forum. The 233rd emoticon on the forum is a laughing face, but it’s not so convenient to find or use since it’s located all the way back on the third page of the emoticon library, so people began to just type 233 to represent the emoticon for laughter. You can also type as many 3s as you want to express the degree of laughter, like 23333333 (mildly ecstactic laughter) or 23333333333333333 (pantwettingly hilarious).
-I forget to zip my pants today. 我今天忘记拉裤子拉链了。Wǒ jīntiān wàngjì lā kùzi lāliàn le.
Meaning: Cool; awesome
If someone is good at something, you can use 666 to acclaim him or her. The pronunciation of 6 ( in Chinese is liù, a homonym of 溜 (liū). 溜 is usually used to describe something smooth, or things at which someone is proficient.
-I got a penta kill when I played the League of Legends today! 我今天玩英雄联盟的时候来了个五杀！Wǒ jīntiān wán yīngxióngliánméng de shíhou láilege wǔshā!
3. 我好方 (wǒ hǎo fāng)
Literally: I’m so square.
Meaning: I’m so nervous or I’m so scared.
This phrase first came about from southern Chinese livestreaming gamers who find it difficult to pronounce or mispronounce the character 慌 (huāng), meaning panicked, as 方 (fāng), square. In other words, 我好方=我好慌. This mispronunciation picked up traction and became a popular phrase.
The exam is tomorrow, I’m so nervous. 明天就要考试了，我好方。Míngtiān jiùyào kǎoshìle, wǒ hǎo fāng.
4. 狗带 (gǒu dài)
Meaning: Go die; go to hell
狗带 (gǒu dài) is a homophone for “go die,” which comes from the former EXO member Huang Zitao’s rap (pictured at top). The rap mainly talks about Huang Zitao’s attitude towards his dissers. Though I have to say the rap is awful, Huang Zitao still performs it confidently and his hǎo fāng-ness comes from trying oh-so-hard to be cool. Netizens then started to describe their feelings when they hear an awkward rap and want to make fun of Huang Zitao in the process. The phrase has since spread and can be used towards anything that you dislike.
So much work to do, I want to die. 要忙的事情太多，我选择狗带。 Yàomángde shìqíng tàiduō, wǒ xuǎnzé goǔdài.
5. 吃土 (chī tǔ)
Literally: Eating dirt
Meaning: Short of money.
This phrase gained its popularity during 2015’s single's day holiday on November 11. Many people complained on Weibo that they spent so much money buying clothes and other crap during the holiday that they could only afford to eat dirt for the next month.
After buying the Huawei P9, I'm going to eat dirt this month. 买完华为P9，这个月我要吃土了。 Mǎiwán Huáwéi P9, zhègeyuè wǒyào chītǔ le.
6. 重要的事情说三遍 (zhòngyàode shìqing shuō sānbiàn)
Literally: Important things need to be repeated three times.
This sentence suddenly became popular on June 21 of this year but it’s still unclear as to why. Maybe it originates from Japan, where many novels and comics mention the importance of repeating things three times to emphasize the likelihood of something happening fortuitously, before saying “重要的事情说三遍” (zhòngyàode shìqíng shuō sānbiàn).
7. 吓死宝宝了 (xiàsǐ bǎobao le)
Literally: Baby is scared to death.
Meaning: I can't believe it!
Instead of using “me,” people started to use baby (宝宝, bǎobao) to refer to themselves. It might sound a little creepy to the uninitiated, but the usage of baby is considered funny and cute. Even so, I still suggest you only to use it with your closest friends.
These clothes are too expensive! I can't believe it! 这件衣服太贵了！吓死宝宝了！Zhèjiàn yīfú tàiguìle! Xiàsǐ bǎobao le!
8. 怪我咯 (guài wǒ lo)
Literally: Are you blaming me?; Not my problem
The buzzword can be used in an ironic way if you feel someone is blaming you for something you had no part in.
- I gained weight because I ate too much with you.
- Am I the one to blame?
- Wǒ jiùshì yīnwéi zuìjìn jīngcháng hénǐ chīfàn cái zhǎngpàng le.
- Guài wǒ lo?
9. Trigger words on WeChat
Maybe you have noticed that during certain festival, if you type a keyword like “Happy New Year” or “Merry Christmas” on WeChat, and emoticons like fireworks and Christmas trees will rain down on your screen. There are a few other keywords that you might not know of in order to make it ran anything from kisses to chicken drumsticks:
“生日快乐; birthday” – Birthday cakes
“么么哒; xoxo; cium; baci; besos” – Kisses
“想你了; miss you” – Stars
“加个鸡腿” (Jiā gè jītuǐ) – Chicken drumsticks
Tips: These triggers might become invalid if you use them too frequently. Wait several minutes and give it another try!
If you know of any other popular Chinese Internet slang words that you want to share with us, or other trigger words for emoticons, please post them in the Comments section below.
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