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Chinese Jokes: A Collection

You may have come across some Chinese jokes that you do not fully understand. Do you know most of them are related to Chinese traditional customs or Chinese slang words?

Here are 8 funny Chinese jokes to give you a brief picture of Chinese society. By the way, you can learn lots of famous Chinese slang words through these jokes, which is an excellent way to get you interested in learning Chinese. So let’s get started!

(The translation below should be considered within the particular context. In another context, they could be different.)

1. 先救谁 (xiān jiù sheí, Who do you save first)

一个女生问他的男朋友:“如果我和你妈同时掉入水里,你先救谁?”男生回答道:“我妈早就料到你们会问这样的问题!为了我们哥仨的幸福,她五十岁了,硬是学会了游泳!”

yī gè nǚ shēng wèn tā de nán péng yǒu: “rú guǒ wǒ hé nǐ mā tóng shí diào rù shuǐ lǐ, nǐ xiān jiù sheí ? ” nán shēng huí dá dào : “wǒ mā zǎo jiù liào dào nǐ men huì wèn zhè yàng de wèn tí! wèi le wǒ men gē sā de xìng fú, tā wǔ shí suì le, yìng shì xué huì le yóu yǒng !”

Translation:

A girl asked his boyfriend, “If your mom and I fall into the water at the same time, who do you save first?” The boy replied, “My mum has already known you would ask such questions! For the happiness of our three brothers, she is fifty years old but still learned to swim!”

女生: girl

问: ask

男朋友: boyfriend

同时: at the same time

掉入水里: fall into the water

先: first

救谁: who will you save/help

回答:  reply

早就…: earlier …

料到…: predict

问题: question

为了…: for… (a goal)

幸福: happiness

五十岁: 50 years old

硬是…: struggle to do something

学会了…: have learned something

游泳: swim

What’s the story behind this Chinese joke?

Since the question “如果我和你妈同时掉入水里,你先救谁?” (rú guǒ wǒ hé nǐ mā tóng shí diào rù shuǐ lǐ, nǐ xiān jiù sheí ?) is quite popular in China, which is the question that the girl often asks her boyfriend before marriage to test him and see how he would handle with the relationship between his mother and wife. If you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, you can have a go (The trick is that you need to assume the two cannot swim at all).

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/掉水里.mp3
如果我和你妈同时掉入水里,你先救谁?(rú guǒ wǒ hé nǐ mā tóng shí diào rù shuǐ lǐ, nǐ xiān jiù shuí ?

2. 板蓝根 (bǎn lán gēn, A common Chinese medicine)

小时候每当我感冒的时候,妈妈都会为我冲一杯咖啡。她温柔地说:“外国人都是这样的。”可我总是害怕咖啡的味道,酸甜苦涩交错。如今我走遍所有的咖啡馆,都见不到小时候喝过的那个牌子,只记得它有一个很洋气的名字:板蓝根!

xiǎo shí hòu měi dāng wǒgǎn mào de shí hòu, mā ma dōu huì wèi wǒ chōng yī bēi kā fēi. tā wēn róu dì shuō:“ wài guó rén dōu shì zhè yàng de.” kě wǒ zǒng shì hài pà kā fēi de wèi dào, suān tián kǔ sè jiāo cuò. rú jīn wǒ zǒu biàn suǒ yǒu de kā fēi guǎn, dōu jiàn bú dào xiǎo shí hòu hē guò de nà gè pái zǐ, zhī jì dé tā yǒu yī gè hěn yáng qì de míng zì: bǎn lán gēn!

Translation:

When I was a child, when I caught a cold, my mother would make me a cup of coffee. She said softly, “Foreigners (western people) are like this.” But I’m always afraid of the taste of coffee, sour, sweet, bitter, and astringent. Now I go to all the cafes, and I can’t see the brand I used to drink when I was a child, I only remember that it has a very fashion name, Banlangen!

小时候: when someone is a child

每当…的时候, …: every time when …

感冒: have a cold

为…(某人)…(做什么事): … (do something) for … (somebody)

冲一杯咖啡: make a cup of coffee

温柔地…: gently/softly

外国人: foreigner

都…: all

可: but

总是…: always

害怕: afraid of …

味道: smell

酸甜苦涩: sour, sweet, bitter, astringent

交错: mix up

如今: nowadays

走遍…: go all over …

所有…: all …

咖啡馆: cafe

见不到…: cannot find …

喝过的那个牌子: the brand that someone have drunk before

牌子: brand

只记得: just remember

很: very

洋气: western style/fashion

What’s the story behind this Chinese joke?

Since 板蓝根 (bǎn lán gēn) is a traditional Chinese medicine to get rid of a cold. It tastes bitter and a little sweet. Its colour looks like coffee. It was not common to drink coffee in the last generation, but it has become popular in China.

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/板蓝根.mp3
板蓝根 (bǎn lán gēn)

3. 理想 (lǐ xiǎng, Dream)

父亲给儿子定下的伙食标准是:80分吃米饭,70分吃馍,60分吃面条,不及格只能喝稀饭,如果想吃饺子,必须考到90分以上。期末考试的时候,儿子的作文考试题目是《理想》,儿子认真地想了想,写道:“我这学期的理想就是能吃上饺子,但是我清楚地知道,以我常年吃馍,偶尔还要喝稀饭的水平,离吃饺子的标准还差的很远。”

fù qin gěi ér zi dìng xià de huǒ shí biāo zhǔn shì: 80 fēn chī mǐ fàn, 70 fēn chī mó, 60 fēn chī miàn tiáo, bú jí gé zhǐ néng hē xī fàn, rú guǒ xiǎng chī jiǎo zi, bì xū kǎo dào 90 fēn yǐ shàng. qī mò kǎo shì de shí hòu, ér zi de zuò wén kǎo shì tí mù shì < lǐ xiǎng >, ér zi rèn zhēn de xiǎng le xiǎng, xiě dào :“wǒ zhè xué qī de lǐ xiǎng jiù shì néng chī shàng jiǎo zi, dàn shì wǒ qīng chǔ de zhī dào, yǐ wǒ cháng nián chī mó, ǒu ěr hái yào hē xī fàn de shuǐ píng, lí chī jiǎo zi de biāo zhǔn hái chà de hěn yuǎn.”

Translation:

The meal standard set by the father for his son is: a mark of 80 % to eat rice, 70 % to eat buns, 60 % to eat noodles, failed the exam can only drink porridge, if you want to eat dumplings, you must get a mark of 90% or more. During the final exam, the essay title of his son’s exam was “Dream”. He thought about it seriously and wrote, “My dream for this semester is to eat dumplings. But I know that I eat buns all year round and sometimes have to drink porridge. That level of the mark is far from the threshold of having dumplings.”

定下的: scheduled

伙食: meal

标准: standard

…分: … marks

吃: eat/have

米饭: rice

馍: a type of Chinese bun

面条: noodles

喝: drink

稀饭: porridge

及格: pass (the exam)

不及格: fail (the exam)

如果: if

想…: want to

饺子: dumpling

必须: must

考到…分以上: get a mark above …

期末考试: final exam

作文: assay

考试题目: exam question

理想: dream

认真地: seriously

想了想: think over

写道: write down something

能: can

清楚地: clearly

知道: know/understand

以…的水平: with the level of …

常年: often/usually/all year around

离…还差的很远: far away from …

What’s the story behind this Chinese joke?

In China, most parents and teachers in primary, secondary, or high school think highly of their kids or students’ marks, so most Chinese students have significant stresses, especially in the Chinese national exams, that is, 中考 (zhōng kǎo) and 高考 (gāo kǎo). And parents may encourage their kids to get an excellent mark in different ways.

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/中考.mp3
中考 (zhōng kǎo) is a Chinese Senior High School Entrance Examination
https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/高考.mp3
高考 (gāo kǎo) is a Chinese National College Entrance Examination

4. 插翅难飞 (chā chì nán fēi, Hard to run away)

某凶杀案嫌疑犯被抓。事后记者问他为什么没有潜逃,他回答:“这三天,天天都在火车站排队买票。”公安局局长接受记者访问时说:“我们早就断定,春运期间他一定逃不出本地,因为他根本买不到票。”

mǒu xiōng shā àn xián yí fàn bèi zhuā. shì hòu jì zhě wèn tā wèi shén me méi yǒu qián táo, tā huí dá :“ zhè sān tiān, tiān tiān dōu zài huǒ chē zhàn pái duì mǎi piào.” gōng ān jú jú zhǎng jiē shòu jì zhě fǎng wèn shí shuō :“ wǒ men zǎo jiù duàn ding, chūn yùn qī jiān tā yí dìng táo bú chū běn dì, yīn wéi tā gēn běn mǎi bú dào piào.”

Translation:

A homicide suspect was arrested. Afterwards, a journalist asked him why he did not abscond. He replied, “For the past three days, I have queued up at the train station to buy tickets.” When interviewed by reporters, the Public Security Bureau Director said, “We already knew that he would not escape the local area during the Spring Festival, since he can’t buy tickets at all.”

插翅难飞: is a Chinese chengyu, which means it is tough to run away.

某: a (to describe a noun which is generally when the writer wishes to generalize something)

凶杀案: homicide case

嫌疑犯: suspect

被…: passive voice

抓: arrest/catch

事后: after that

记者: journalist

为什么: why

潜逃: abscond/escape/run away

天天: everyday

火车站: train station

排队: line up

买票: buy tickets

公安局: public security bureau

局长: director

接受: accept

访问: interview

断定: conclude

春运: large-scale transportation in Chinese during the Spring Festival

期间: during the time

一定: must

逃不出: cannot run away

本地: local area

因为: because

根本(…)不: not (…) at all

买不到: cannot buy

What’s the story behind this Chinese joke?

春运 (chūn yùn) is large-scale transportation in Chinese during the Spring Festival. During this time, all the train stations are quite busy, and train tickets are hard to purchase, since many workers go back to their hometown and get together with their family.

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/春运.mp3
春运 (chūn yùn)

5. 感觉咋样 (gǎn jué zǎ yàng, How do you feel)

女友羞涩地问男友:“自从咱俩认识以后,你感觉咋样?”男友欲言又止。女友催促:“你快说呀!”男友挠挠头:“我感觉每个月工资都不够花……”

nǚ yǒu xiū sè de wèn nán yǒu :“ zì cóng zán liǎng rèn shí yǐ hòu, nǐ gǎn jué zǎ yàng?” nán yǒu yù yán yòu zhǐ. nǚ yǒu cuī cù :“ nǐ kuài shuō ya!” nán yǒu náo náo tóu :“ wǒ gǎn jué měi gè yuè gōng zī dōu bú gòu huā……”

Translation:

The girlfriend asked her boyfriend shyly, “How do you feel since we met?” The boyfriend stopped talking. The girlfriend urged, “Say it!” The boyfriend scratched his head, “I feel that my monthly salary is not enough…”

感觉: feel (verb) / feeling (noun)

咋样: how

女友: girlfriend

男友: boyfriend

羞涩地: shyly

自从…以后: since …

咱俩: we (both of us)

认识: know somebody

欲言又止: want to say something but not say it

催促: urge

快: hurry up

说: say

挠挠头: scratch head

每个月: every month

工资: salary

不够花: not enough to spend

What’s the story behind this Chinese joke?

Most Chinese people think a boyfriend should pay the bills when dating girls. Not like people in the west, they often pay their bills separately (which called “AA制” in China).

6. 知识改变命运 (zhī shi gǎi biàn mìng yùn , Knowledge changes fate)

一人去算命,算命先生说:“你20岁恋爱,25岁结婚,30岁生子,一生富贵平安,家庭幸福,晚年无忧。”此人先惊后怒,说:“我今年35岁,博士,光棍,不曾恋爱。”先生闻后,略微沉思后说:“年轻人,知识改变命运啊!”

yī rén qù suàn mìng, suàn mìng xiān shēng shuō : “nǐ èr shí suì liàn ài, èr shí wǔ suì jié hūn, sān shí suì shēng zǐ, yī shēng fù guì píng ān, jiā tíng xìng fú, wǎn nián wú yōu.” cǐ rén xiān jīng hòu nù, shuō : “wǒ jīn nián sān shí wǔ suì, bó shì, guāng gùn, bú céng liàn ài.” xiān shēng wén hòu, luè wēi chén sī hòu shuō : “nián qīng rén, zhī shi gǎi biàn mìng yùn a!”

Translation:

A man went to fortune-telling, and the fortune-teller said, “You are in love at the age of 20, married at 25, and have children at 30. You will be wealthy and safe in your whole life, have a happy family, and worry-free in your old age.” The man was shocked and then angry. He said, “I am 35 years old this year, have a PhD degree, still single, never have a girlfriend before.” After hearing this, the fortune-teller thought over a while and said, “Young man, knowledge changes fate!”

算命: tell one’s fortune

算命先生: fortune-teller

…岁: … years old

恋爱: fall in love

结婚: marry

生子: give birth to a baby

一生: life

富贵: wealthy

平安: safe

家庭幸福: happy family

晚年无忧: have nothing upset you in your old age

先: first

后: then/later

惊: shocked

怒: angry

今年: this year

博士: PhD

光棍: single

不曾…: have never done something

闻: hear

略微: slightly/ a little

沉思: think over

年轻人: young man

知识: knowledge

改变: change

命运: fate/destiny

What’s the story behind this Chinese joke?

“知识改变命运” (zhī shi gǎi biàn mìng yùn) is a popular Chinese slang. The direct translation is “Knowledge changes fate”. Generally speaking, it implies if you have professional knowledge in one of the fields, it can make your life better.

But in this joke, the man who is a PhD have never got a girlfriend, and the fortune-teller said “知识改变命运”. His words are opposite to its common meaning. That is, if you have full of knowledge, it can make your life worse. So the funny part of the joke is this unusual use of the typical Chinese slang words.

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/知识改变命运.mp3
知识改变命运 (zhī shi gǎi biàn mìng yùn)

7. 父亲节快乐 (fù qīn jié kuài lè, Happy Father’s Day)

父亲节时给爹打电话。

fù qīn jié shí gěi diē dǎ diàn huà.

爹:“啥?”

diē : “shá?”

我:“今天是父亲节,祝您节日快乐。”

wǒ : “jīn tiān shì fù qīn jié, zhù nín jié rì kuài lè.”

爹:“你也快乐。”

diē : “nǐ yě kuài lè.”

我:“是父亲节,父亲快乐!”

wǒ : “shì fù qīn jié, fù qīn kuài lè!”

爹:“我知道,我的意思是你啥时过这节?”

diē : “wǒ zhī dào, wǒ de yì sī shì nǐ shá shí guò zhè jié?”

我:“……”

wǒ : “……”

爹:“明年过得上吗?”

diē : “míng nián guò de shàng ma?”

我:“……”

wǒ : “……”

爹:“后年过得上吗?”

diē : “hòu nián guò de shàng ma?”

我:“……”

wǒ : “……”

爹:“那我还快乐个屁!”

diē : “nà wǒ hái kuài lè gè pì!”

爹果断挂电话。

diē guǒ duàn guà diàn huà.

Translation:

I called my Dad on Father’s Day.

Dad asked, “What?”

I said, “Today is Father’s Day. I wish you a happy Father’s Day.”

Dad said, “Wish you happy as well.”

I said, “It’s Father’s Day. So happy Father’s Day!”

Dad said, “I know. I mean when will you celebrate this festival?”

I said nothing…

Dad said, “Next year?”

I said nothing…

Dad said, “The year after next?”

I said nothing…

Dad said, “Then how can I be happy!”

Dad hung up the phone decisively.

父亲节: Father’s Day

给…打电话: give a call to someone

爹: father

祝…: wish …

节日: festival

快乐: happy

您: you (call someone who is much older than you, or he/she has a higher title than you)

…也…: … also … / … as well

意思: meaning/idea

啥时: when

过节: celebrate the festival

这: this

明年: next year

后年: the year after next

过得上: can celebrate (the festival)

吗: indicates a question, used at the end of sentences

那我还…个屁: then I don’t need to do … / how can I …

(the word “屁” is a bit rude)

果断: decisively/quickly

挂电话: hang up the phone

What’s the story behind this Chinese joke?

Most Chinese parents expect their children to marry around the age of 25. If their children are around 30, they will worry and feel it is a big thing needed to be done soon. So their children will also feel unhappy when their parents ask them if they have a girlfriend/boyfriend to get married, but they are still single. This common Chinese social phenomenon is called “催婚” (cuī hūn).

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/催婚.mp3
催婚 (cuī hūn)

8. 过来人 (guò lái rén, “People who have more experience on something than you”)

同事的女儿上重点高中,学习好,长得漂亮,总有男生骚扰,于是同事就给女儿换了个新手机号,他自己用换下来的旧号。某天他收到短信:“我是高三某班的王某,很喜欢你,咱们聊聊吧。”同事回复:“我是她父亲,咱们聊聊吧。”他本以为打击到那小子了,结果收到回复:“叔叔,您是过来人,都理解吧?”

tóng shì de nǚ ér shàng zhòng diǎn gāo zhōng, xué xí hǎo, zhǎng de piāo liang, zǒng yǒu nán shēng sāo rǎo, yú shì tóng shì jiù gěi nǚ ér huàn le gè xīn shǒu jī hào, tā zì jǐ yòng huàn xià lái de jiù hào. mǒu tiān tā shōu dào duǎn xìn : “wǒ shì gāo sān mǒu bān de wáng mǒu, hěn xǐ huān nǐ, zán men liáo liáo ba.” tóng shì huí fù : “wǒ shì tā fù qīn, zán men liáo liáo ba.” tā běn yǐ wéi dǎ jī dào nà xiǎo zi le, jié guǒ shōu dào huí fù, “shū shu, nín shì guò lái rén, dōu lǐ jiě ba?”

Translation:

My colleague’s daughter goes to a good high school, studies well, very pretty, and is always harassed by boys. So the colleague changed her phone number to a new one, and he used the old number. One day he received a text message, “I am Wang from a certain class in the high school. I like you very much. Shall we have a chat?” The colleague replied, “I am her father. Shall we have a chat?” He thought he had made the boy scared. But the colleague received the reply, “Uncle, you have more experience than me on dating with a girl. You understand my feeling, right?”

同事: colleague

女儿: daughter

上重点高中: go to an excellent high school

学习好: good at study

长得漂亮: is good-looking/pretty

男生: boy

骚扰: harassment

于是…就…: so …/ then …

给…(某人)…(做某事): … (do something) for … (somebody)

换了个新手机号: get a new phone number

用: use

换下来的旧号: the old phone number that someone used before

某天: one day

收到短信: receive a message

高三: in the third year in (Chinese) high school

某班: a class

王某: someone with the surname Wang

很喜欢你: like you very much

咱们: we

聊聊: have a chat

咱们…吧: let’s …

本以为…: thought …

打击到…: make … (somebody) scared/give up

那: that

小子: kid/boy

结果: as a result

收到回复: get the reply

叔叔: uncle (Chinese people call the people who have the same generation as their parents as uncle)

过来人: the person who has more experience than someone on something

理解: understand/know

What’s the story behind this Chinese joke?

The most important word here is “过来人” (guò lái rén). You can call the people who have more experience than someone on something. In this joke, the young boy called the man as “过来人”, as the man must have more experience in dating a girl.

https://www.maayot.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/过来人.mp3
过来人 (guò lái rén)

Now you know the deep meanings of the 8 Chinese jokes above. Which joke do you like most? As a “过来人” who has learned English for a long time, I would say you just need to practice your Chinese every day, better understanding the culture behind. It helps to build up your interest in learning a new language!

Reference:

《读者》读者出版传媒股份有限公司 2011-2012年的期刊


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