Chinese has undergone a big evolution in the past couple years as the internet has developed quickly. Here are eight must-know slang phrases in Chinese.

1. tǔ háo 土豪

This first refers to people who spend a lot on luxurious goods and enjoy showing them off. Sometimes, it's short for háo. In this case, the meaning is negative. But now, it's also used for making jokes at the expense of a friend who spends too much.

Here are two examples:

  • A person has a cellphone with diamonds on it, owns a Louis Vuitton item, and drives a Ferrari. Then you could comment, “He/she is such a tǔ háo.” Sometimes, you can use it as an adjective as well, such as, “He/she is so tǔ háo.”
  • One of your friends wants to treat you to dinner. It's a nice but unusual thing to do. You could say to them, “Wow, tǔ háo/háo.”

2. gāo dà shàng 高大上

It's short for gāo duān, dà qì, shàng dàng cì 高端大气上档次, meaning “high-end, classy, high-grade.” It's an adjective. You can use it to describe anything or anybody that is fancy or classy.

For example, one of your friends just received a new job working in an international company as an interpreter, requiring them to travel all over the world. Then you could say, “Wow, this job is so gāo dà shàng.”

3. nǐ dǒng de 你懂的

This literally means “you understand.” We usually use it at the end of sentences, often as a separate clause. This implies, “You must understand what I was just saying and know what to do or say next.” Even if it's not explicit, the person being spoken to understands.

For instance, A says to B, “Tonight at seven o’clock, nǐ dǒng de.” Here, A and B had discussed a couple of days ago going to the cinema tonight at seven o’clock. So even though A didn't point out what's exactly going to happen at seven, instead A says, nǐ dǒng de. B understands this meaning, and it also shows some humor.

4. yǒu qián rèn xìng 有钱任性

This could directly translate to, “So rich that you can do whatever you feel like.” It can be used either sarcastically or humorously.

For example, A buys a $50 T-shirt, but it turns out to be too big. However, A didn't choose to exchange the shirt for smaller size since it would require too much work. Then, you could comment, “This is yǒu qián rèn xìng,” or A could even say, yǒu qián rèn xìng when people ask them why they didn't mail it back.

5. jiǒng 囧

This word, meaning “awkward,” shows a vivid image through the shape of the character. It looks like a person's face with eyebrows turned down. As this can describe how we look in an awkward situation, the meaning is also awkward. Jiǒng an adjective, so usage should be pretty simple.

For instance, if you take your friend's drink at a party, you can say this is jiǒng.

6. gǎo xiào 搞笑

This has two meanings. Mostly it means “funny,” but it also has the meaning of “kidding me” or “unbelievable.”

Here are two examples:

  • “That comedy is so gǎo xiào.” Here it simply means “funny,” and is used to describe things that make you laugh.
  • You boss calls you to go to pick up some documents for him or her during the weekend. You could comment, “This/the boss is so gǎo xiào, because it's the weekend.” Alternatively, you could say, “Gǎo xiào? No one is gonna work on weekends.”

7. zhái 宅

This word originally means “house or home.” However, now it's developed a new meaning of “staying home all the time,” with the implication of “not very social.” Because of this, one can say zhái nán 宅男, zhái nǚ 宅女 for a male or female who often stays home for leisure or is not a fan of going out.

For example, “Don't always zhái. No one likes zhái nán, so you should go out more.”

8. bù zuò sǐ jiù bù huì sǐ 不作死就不会死

Known as “No zuo no die” in Urban Dictionary, it means if you don't do stupid things, it won't come back to hurt you (but if you do, then there will be consequences). In this phrase, zuò is a Chinese character meaning “acting silly for attention.”

Here's an example from Urban Dictionary:

A: Some dude baked cookies shaped like an iPhone, held one by the mouth when driving, and tried to mess with the traffic cops.

B: Did he pull it off?

A: The cop was pissed and ran his name through the system. Turns out he already had unpaid speeding tickets.

B: No zuo no die.

Image Sources

Hero image by Stellarome (CC BY-SA 4.0), via Wikimedia Commons