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10 Chinese Popular Slang Words You Need to Know

Nowadays, Chinese slang is mostly forming from the Internet and native speakers are using them all the time. As a Chinese learner, you need to know some Chinese slang to understand Chinese culture and get closer with your Chinese friends.

Why Do We Learn Chinese Slang?

Chinese has been becoming a popular language all over the world these years.

Knowing some Chinese slang is to help you understand native speaker better and make a day-to-day communication with your Chinese friends. Most Chinese people will be excited and impressed by your good Chinese, when you know the most popular Chinese slang. And they will be happy to share more Chinese culture with you.

No matter you are a student or businessman, it is good to learn Chinese slang and hence better understand the society in China, what is going on there, and hence develop the relationship with your Chinese friends or clients.

Spoken Chinese is not like formal writing. You cannot learn it from textbook, but from daily life. The best way to learn spoken Chinese is getting yourself into Chinese social media and know the latest Chinese slang. You can also learn spoken Chinese here maayot.com.

To help you speak like a native, we summarised 10 Chinese popular slang words. Let’s get started!

10 Chinese Popular Slang Words

  1. 斜杠青年(xié gàng qīng nían)
  2. 立flag(lì flag)
  3. 治愈(zhì yù)
  4. 肥宅(féi zhái)
  5. 断舍离(duàn shě lí)
  6. 佛系(fó xì)
  7. 夸夸群(kuā kuā qún)
  8. 冲鸭(chōng yā)
  9. 小姐姐(xiǎo jiě jie)
  10. 996(jiǔ jiǔ liù)

Below are the meanings of the 10 Chinese popular slang words and why they appear. And 2 examples are provided for each slang word.

1. 斜杠青年 (xié gàng qīng nián)

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/斜杠青年.mp3

Meaning?

It is a noun. Its literal translation is slash youth. Slash here means having multiple identities or careers. Youth refers to young people, usually from the twenties to thirties. So people who are “xié gàng qīng nían” will use slashes “/” to introduce themselves on social media, for example, “张子睿,作家/歌手/摄影师” (Zirui Zhang, Writer/Singer/Photographer).

Why this slang appears?

Nowadays, more young people in China tends to have multiple careers to enrich their life. They are more open-minded and have more hobbies and interests. They are not satisfied with the constraints of a single profession and identity.

How to use this slang?

Example 1:

我是个斜杠青年。我会写作,会翻译,会画画。

 wǒ shìxié gàng qīng nián. wǒ huì xiě zuò, huì fān yì, huì huà huà.

Translation:

I am a “slash youth”. I am a writer, translator, and painter.

Example 2:

这个斜杠青年好厉害呀!他是这家公司的创始人,还是粉丝百万的博主。

zhè gè xié gàng qīng nián hǎo lì hài ya! tā shì zhè jiā gōng sī de chuàng shǐ rén, hái shì fěn sī bǎi wàn de bó zhǔ.

Translation:

This young man is so cool! He is the CEO of this company, and an influencer who has millions of fans.

2.    立flag (lì flag)

Meaning?

“lì” is a verb, which means set up; “flag” here means goal. “lì flag” means to set a goal to be achieved, or say some words to encourage yourself.

Why this slang appears?

Nowadays, many young people in China set several goals at the very beginning of the year, to cheer up themselves and to be motivated in the following year. It is good to have a goal in your mind when you feel tough during the process.

How to use this slang?

Example 1:

新的一年,我要flag: 我要每天运动1小时,到年底减肥20斤!

xīn de yī nián, wǒ yào lì flag: wǒ yào měi tiān yùn dòng yī xiǎo shí, dào nián dǐ jiǎn féi èr shí jīn!

Translation:

For this new year, I wanna set a goal: I will do exercises an hour a day, and lose weight of ten kilograms at the end of the year!

Example 2:

我年初flag,我都做到了!我学会了拼音,会和中国人交流了!

wǒ nián chū de flag, wǒ dōu zuò dào le! wǒ xué huì le pīn yīn,huì hé zhōng guó rén jiāo liú le!

Translation:

For the goal that I set at the beginning of the year, I have all completed! I learned Chinese pinyin, and I can communicate with Chinese people!

3. 治愈(zhì yù)

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/治愈.mp3

Meaning?

It is a verb in dictionary and means heal. But nowadays it has become more like an adjective. It can be used to describe cute animals or a film, television drama or animation which warm your heart, or make you comfort when you are sad.

Why this slang appears?

Many people in China are under pressure with their daily work to make a living, so they need something to comfort themselves to feel relief and happy.

How to use this slang?

Example 1:

这只柯基犬笑起来好可爱啊,好治愈

zhè zhī kē jī quǎn xiào qǐ lái hǎo kě ài a, hǎo zhì!

Translation:

This Corgi has a smiling face, which is so cute and make me happy!

Example 2:

这部家庭喜剧好治愈啊!我强烈推荐给你!

zhè bù jiā tíng xǐ jù hǎo zhì yù a! wǒ qiáng liè tuī jiàn gěi nǐ!

Translation:

This family comedy movie makes me relax and happy! I badly recommend it to you!

4. 肥宅 (féi zhái)

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/肥宅.mp3

Meaning?

It is a verb. It means stay at home and do not do exercise, but love eating high-calorie food.

Why this slang appears?

People want to be relaxed after work, so some of them choose to stay at home and eat their favourite food. But if someone continuously “féi zhái”, it could be unhealthy.

How to use this slang?

Example 1:

疫情期间,我和我的猫在家快乐肥宅

yì qíng qī jiān, wǒ hé wǒ de māo zài jiā kuài lè féi zhái.

Translation:

During the epidemic, I was staying at home and enjoying my food with my cat.

Example 2:

我儿子天天在家肥宅,啥都不做, 除了玩游戏。

wǒ ér zǐ tiān tiān zài jiā féi zhái, shá dōu bú zuò, chú le wán yóu xì.

Translation:

My son stays at home every day, doing nothing except playing games.

5. 断舍离 (duàn shě lí)

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/断舍离.mp3

Meaning?

It is a verb, which is originally from Japan and has become popular in China. “duàn shě lí” means throw away the things that you do not actually need and get rid of the unhappiness attached to these things.

Why this slang appears?

Many people buy lots of stuff back to home and finally found they are unnecessary. Too much stuff is piled everywhere, which makes your room messy and somehow affects your emotions. So “duàn shě lí” has become popular to get rid of that, and make you relief and calm.

How to use this slang?

Example 1:

这周末,我打算收拾下房间,断舍离我没穿过的衣服。

zhè zhōu mò, wǒ dǎ suàn shōu shí xià fáng jiān, duàn shě lí wǒ méi chuān guò de yī fú.

Translation:

I’m gonna tidy up my room this weekend, and throw away the cloths that I never wear.

Example 2:

你的冰箱里有这么多剩菜啊!快点断舍离这些放了几个月的菜!

nǐ de bīng xiāng lǐ yǒu zhè me duō shèng cài a! kuài diǎn duàn shě lí zhè xiē fàng le jǐ gè yuè de cài!

Translation:

Your fridge has so many left-over dishes! Please throw away the dishes that have been there for several months!

6. 佛系 (fó xì)

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/佛系.mp3

Meaning?

It is an adjective, which means buddha-like. It is used to describe someone who has no desires, but calmness and peace in their mind. The people like this are not affected by the others’ words, and do not feel so disappointed or excited for a big event.

Why this slang appears?

After someone had some tough life experiences, like losing the job during the epidemic, they realised that do not think too much about it. Take it easy. You will find your own way.

How to use this slang?

Example 1:

我现在是佛系恋爱。两人在一起舒服就好。如果谈不拢,就说拜拜。

wǒ xiàn zài shì fó xì liàn ài. liǎng rén zài yī qǐ shū fú jiù hǎo. rú guǒ tán bú long, jiù shuō bái bái.

Translation:

I am in a buddha-like relationship right now. Both of us are feeling good is enough. If feeling not good, just say goodbye.

Example 2:

现在房价太高了。我就保持佛系心态好了,租房也挺好的。

xiàn zài fáng jià tài gāo le. wǒ jiù bǎo chí fó xì xīn tài hǎo le, zū fáng yě tǐng hǎo de.

Translation:

The apartment price is too high right now. I will just keep my buddha-like attitude. Renting an apartment is also good.

7. 夸夸群 (kuā kuā qún)

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/夸夸群.mp3

Meaning?

It is a noun. It refers to a group chat with full of praise on social media.

Why this slang appears?

Sometimes young people feel stressful, so that the praise can encourage them and help them become confident. “kuā kuā qún” is more like a way to make people happy. And people themselves should be positive and become strong in real life, not just immerse themselves in the praise.

How to use this slang?

Example 1:

她最近心情不好。我们建一个夸夸群,好不好?

tā zuì jìn xīn qíng bú hǎo. wǒ men jiàn yī gè kuā kuā qún, hǎo bú hǎo?

Translation:

She has been in a bad mood recently. Shall we set a group chat to cheer her up?

Example 2:

工作压力太大了!他们常常在夸夸群里互夸,找点乐子。

gōng zuò yā lì tài dà le. tā men cháng cháng zài kuā kuā qún lǐ hù kuā, zhǎo diǎn lè zi.

Translation:

Such a big pressure during work! They often give praise to each other to make themselves happy.

8. 冲鸭 (chōng yā)

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/冲鸭.mp3

Meaning?

It is a verb. It means come on, let’s do it, or good luck. This word can be used when you want to encourage your friend.

It is a homophonic expression of the word “冲呀” (chōng ya). But 冲鸭 (chōng yā) looks cuter, because the character “鸭” (yā) means duck, and nowadays duck is regarded as a cute animal in China.

Why this slang appears?

Nowadays, young people in China like encourage other people in social media. And they love cute things, especially for girls.

How to use this slang?

Example 1:
  • 我明天要考试…

wǒ míng tiān yào kǎo shì…

  • 冲鸭!你可以的!

chōng yā! nǐ kě yǐ de!

Translation:

  • I have an exam tomorrow…
  • Good luck! You can do it!
Example 2:
  • 我最近在找工作。

wǒ zuì jìn zài zhǎo gōng zuò.

  • 加油!冲鸭

jiā yóu! chōng yā!

Translation:

  • I am looking for a job recently.
  • Come on! You can make it!

9. 小姐姐 (xiǎo jiě jie)

Meaning?

It is a noun.  When a lady looks young, but older than you, you can call her “xiǎo jiě jie”. It is also a cute expression.

Why this slang appears?

In China, most of ladies in thirties or even forties would love to look like twenties. And they want others to call them in a way that sounds younger.

How to use this slang?

Example 1:

当你在大学里遇见一个漂亮的女生,你可以问:“小姐姐,你学的什么专业呀?”

dāng nǐ zài dà xué lǐ yù jiàn yī gè piào liɑng de nǚ shēng ,nǐ kě yǐ wèn: “xiǎo jiě jie, nǐ xué de shí me zhuān yè ya?”

Translation:

When you meet a beautiful girl at university, you can ask her, “xiǎo jiě jiě, what you studying?”

Example 2:

你认识她吗?她是个程序员小姐姐

nǐ rèn shi tā ma? tā shì gè chéng xù yuán xiǎo jiě jie.

Translation:

Do you know her? She is a programmer xiǎo jiě jie.

10. 996 (jiǔ jiǔ liù)

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/996.mp3

Meaning?

“996” is a work hour system, that is, working from 9 am to 9 pm, and 6 days a week.

Why this slang appears?

In China, the culture of working overtime has been for a long time in many companies, especially in IT companies. Some employees resist this “996”, which does not mean they are not passionate on their work, but people need a balance between their work and life.

How to use this slang?

Example 1:

我想花些时间跟我的家人在一起。我希望我可以摆脱“996”。

wǒ xiǎng huā xiē shí jiān gēn wǒ de jiā rén zài yī qǐ. wǒ xī wàng wǒ kě yǐ bǎi tuō “jiǔ jiǔ liù”.

Translation:

I want to have some time with my family. I hope I can get rid of the “996” work hour system.

Example 2:

你之前听说过“996”工作制吗?

nǐ zhī qián tīng shuō guò “jiǔ jiǔ liù” gōng zuò zhì ma?

Translation:

Have you heard of “996” work hour system before?

Learning Chinese slang is a good way to understand Chinese latest culture. Have you memorised the 10 slang words above? Now you can use them to start a conversation with your Chinese friends and express your ideas. 冲鸭 (chōng yā)!

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