You Call Yourself A Real Chinese? See If You Know The Hottest 15 Buzzwords of 2018 in China

14 min read 

2018 is coming to a close and we’ve gathered a list of the most viral keywords and phrases that have stormed across China. So, if you think you’re a true local Chinese, then you must know the following list super well! Let’s begin!

1. Debut as Center (C位出道)

“出道” really just means “debut”, usually for artists and pop idols. And “C位” means “center position”. When put together, the term means “debuting as the center”.

Whether you’re a K-Pop, J-Pop, C-Pop or whatever-pop fan, you must already know the significance of being positioned in the center of a group. The center is considered as the most important position within a group, since the person there receives the most attention, be it because of their good-looks, talents, or popularity. They usually get a lot more camera shots, are easily remembered out of all the members, and are usually regarded as the core and image of the group.

Rocket Girls (photo taken from Baidu)
Rocket Girls (photo taken from Baidu)

The term became popular from the show Produce 101 China, a Chinese reality television show spinoff of the South Korean television show Produce 101. Simply put, 101 contestants compete against each other for 11 open spots to establish a new C-Pop group. The show is noted for having no panel of judges, employing audience participation to make decisions on who shall form the group. In other words, it’s a popularity contest.

Meng Meiqi, the most popular idol in Rocket Girls (photo from Baidu)
Meng Meiqi, the most popular idol in Rocket Girls (photo from Baidu)

2. Ju Outsider (菊外人)

Also derived from the show Produce 101 China, the term is literally translated as “Ju Outsiders”. It refers to those who have no idea who Wang Ju is, have not seen nor heard of Produce 101 China, but have already found themselves surrounded by the hashtags “vote for Wang Ju” and others who have been inspired by her.

Wang Ju (Photo from Baidu)
Wang Ju (Photo from Baidu)

As described here, Wang is a contestant on the singing competition Produce 101 China. Over the course of the contest she has also become China’s latest female icon and an unlikely heroine remaking beauty standards in an industry that has long prized women who are doe-eyed, fair-skinned, skinny, girlish, and cute.

Wang has garnered a massive crowd of followers who find her both relatable and inspirational. Fans refer to Wang fondly as Jujie, or big sister Ju. Dozens of memes have emerged to honour her. She has also spawned her own lexicon, hence the term, Ju Outsider.

Wang Ju (Photo from Baidu)
Wang Ju (Photo from Baidu)
  • Example:
    A: Did you vote for Wang Ju today? (audiences are able to vote for their favorite idols daily)
    B: No. Who is that? I keep seeing this name pop up on my Weibo feed.
    A: Man, you’re such a Ju Outsider.

3. Koi Fish (锦鲤)

Chinese people have always been very superstitious and would do anything to reel in good luck. Whether it’s hanging stuff on your doors, facing certain objects in certain directions, or just wearing a lucky color on certain occasions, the Chinese will do it without hesitation.

koi fish are a symbol of good luck in Asia (Photo from Baidu)
koi fish are a symbol of good luck in Asia (Photo from Baidu)

Koi (Japanese word for carp), has been commonly used across the Asian landscape and depicted as a common symbol in both Chinese culture and feng shui. So, when netizens began to create chain letters to spread good luck online, they attached pictures of koi fish. However, following the success of Yang Chaoyue, who came in third on Produce 101 China and debuted as a member of Rocket Girls, people began to use an image of her as a symbol of good luck.

Photo of Yang Chaoyue made by netizens (Original photo taken from Baidu)
Photo of Yang Chaoyue made by netizens (Original photo taken from Baidu)

This actually has a very interesting story behind. See, Yang grew up in the countryside in Jiangsu Province, didn’t go to high school, and didn’t receive any idol training at all. And thus, she is not particularly good at singing, dancing, or even emotional control (she’s cried a lot on the show). Therefore, when she made it to the group during the finals, it took the Chinese internet by storm and polarized the audiences. It was either you hated her or you loved her. But either way, people started to use her photo as a symbol of good luck and reposted it EVERYWHERE. She was regarded as “Yang Chaoyue – the true koi fish”. The whole thing was out of control.

  • Example:
    A: I’m so worried about our econ exam tomorrow.
    B: Don’t worry. Retweet this Yang Chaoyue and you’ll pass with flying colors.

4. So Delicious! (真香警告)

真香 can be roughly translated as “so delicious”, and 警告 just means “warning”. A term mocking hypocrites and people who break their promises easily.

The term actually originated from a 2014 scene on X-change, a reality show airing on Hunan TV. The show arranges urbanites and rural participants to swap lives temporarily for a change. One pampered urbanite on the show, Wang Jingze, refused to eat meals served to him in the village, vowing, “I, Wang Jingze, would rather die than touch your food!” Then the next scene cuts to Wang digging heartily into his bowl, exclaiming, “Shit! So delicious!” as he gobbles up his food. The scene has since gone viral on the internet and quickly became a meme to roast those who fail to keep their words easily.

Wang Jingze on the show X-Change (Photo from Baidu)
Wang Jingze on the show X-Change (Photo from Baidu)

“I, Wang Jingze, would rather die than touch your food!”

  • Example:
    A: What’s this guys even famous for? He’s not even good looking.
    (5 minutes later)
    A: Oh shit, he’s so hot when he’s dancing! I love him.
    B: So delicious! (mockingly)

5. Naughty (皮)

Really just means prankish, mischievous, or naughty. The term can be used as an adjective in Chinese describing someone’s mischievous acts, or as a verb to prank on someone.

  • Example:
    A: I left a fake spider on my roommate’s pillow. He’s fast asleep now. We can expect a terrified scream any second now.
    B: LOL you’re so pi (naughty).
An example of a sticker used in WeChat (Photo taken from WeChat)
An example of a sticker used in WeChat (Photo taken from WeChat)

The term can be used in a few other variations in Chinese. For example, “皮一下, 很开心”, which means “playing pranks, how satisfying”.

  • Example:
    A: I told my dad there was a big chip on the car windshield. He went to the garage and found a large Doritos chip on it.
    A: HEHE, 皮一下, 很开心. (I love playing pranks)

6. Buddhist Life (佛系)

Really just means “having a Buddhist style mindset”. It refers to an attitude of facing life in general; living an arbitrary life. To not get too attached or involved in things. To leave everything in life up to destiny or fate, and be accepting of all outcomes.

A symbolic image of a boy living a Buddhist life (Photo taken from Baidu)
A symbolic image of a boy living a Buddhist life (Photo taken from Baidu)

The term rapidly gained popularity in China this year due to its flexibility to be applied to anything in life. One can have a Buddhist relationship, eat a Buddhist meal, play a Buddhist-style tennis, etc. It’s about having an all-accepting mindset of “if I have/get it, great. If I don’t, that’s cool too.”

  • Example:
    (At a barbershop getting a Buddhist-style haircut)
    A: How would you like your hair done today?
    B: Surprise me.

7. “Buy some oranges.” (“买几个橘子”)

“Stay here. Don’t go anywhere. I’ll go buy some oranges for you.”

Brace yourself for a Chinese history lesson.

This phrase originated from a popular short story written by Zhu Ziqing, a prolific Chinese writer of both prose and poetry. His retrospective story “Retreating Figure” published in 1925 described the interaction he had with his father, who was really a loving and doting father, but didn’t know how to show his affection. Many Chinese were able to relate to the story and thus the piece gained wide recognition. At the end of the story, before getting onto a Nanjing-bound train, Zhu’s father says to him, “Stay here. Don’t go anywhere. I’ll go buy some oranges for you.” This sentence describes the touching scene where Zhu’s father finds his own way of showing affection towards his son.

A sketch of Zhu Ziqing's short essay "Retreating Figure" (Photo taken from Baidu)
A sketch of Zhu Ziqing’s short essay “Retreating Figure” (Photo taken from Baidu)

However, the phrase has since gained a new meaning through pop culture, where netizens began to abuse it to denote being someone’s big daddy. It is pretty much comparable to the North American pick up line, “Who’s your daddy”, except the Chinese version would be more like, “I’m your daddy”, or “Call me daddy”. And yes, it does carry with it an explicit and sexual connotation when a guy says it to a girl in bed. Just like the English slang expression, it’s used to show dominance over someone else in an aggressive, playful, or sexual way. Nowadays, Chinese netizens would simply say, “I’m gonna go buy you some oranges” to implicitly state, “I’m your daddy!”

8. “Sit down, Chen Duxiu” (“陈独秀同学,请你坐下”)

“Chen Duxiu, please have a seat.”

Chen Duxiu was a Chinese revolutionary socialist, educator, philosopher, and author. So anyway, some big historical figure in China. But for this meme, it wasn’t about who he was or what he’s done. It’s more about his name specifically. Du can mean “independent, alone, or single (in the numerical sense)” in Chinese, while Xiu means “excellent or outstanding”. So when you put these two together, it pretty much means “him alone is the most outstanding person”, or really “no one can be more outstanding than him”.

And so, netizens used his name to praise someone for their outstanding acts, more often in a sarcastic way to make fun of someone. Telling that person to “take a seat” is just a way of saying “Alright, you outstanding fuck. Give others a chance to shine”.

A photo of Chen Duxiu often used as a sticker for this meme (Photo taken from Baidu)
A photo of Chen Duxiu often used as a sticker for this meme (Photo taken from Baidu)
  • Example:
    (three guys having a conversation)
    A: I don’t need a girlfriend. I’m single by choice.
    B: Not your choice.
    C: (talking to B) You outstanding prick. Take a seat, Chen Duxiu.

9. It’s been arranged (安排上了)

“It’s been arranged”, or “It’s been dealt with”. In pop culture, this phrases carries with it a connotation of having arranged for someone to be punished, disciplined, or gotten rid of.

The old Nokia is an allusion to its old software that's hard to be hacked, making things more shady-sounding (Image taken from WeChat)
The old Nokia is an allusion to its old software that’s hard to be hacked, making things more shady-sounding (Image taken from WeChat)

The phrase originated from a Chinese dialect from the Northeastern regions, where it was used to mean getting something done. It can be used in many contexts from regular meetings to sexual appointments.

  • Example 1:
    (discipline connotation)
    Boss: This kid needs a lesson. Go arrange it.
    Right-hand man: It’s been dealt with.
  • Example 2:
    (sexual connotation)
    A: Hey, boss is coming. Go get it arranged. (安排一下)
    B: Alright, it’s been arranged. (安排上了)
  • The phrase was also widely used during this year’s FIFA World Cup, when many fans were disappointed by how matches turned out. Many used this image as a sticker on WeChat to mock the matches and denote that the final scores were all arranged behind the scenes.
  • Example 3:
    A: What the fuck? XXX lost 0-5 against YYY?!
    B: It’s been arranged.

10. Fucking panicking! (慌得一比)

“Breaking a cold sweat”, “So fucking anxious”, “Panicking like mad”, etc.

Also popular during FIFA World Cup was this particular meme. Throughout the world cup tournaments, Mengniu Dairy ran a commercial starring Lionel Messi where he is seen lying down on a soccer field with a soul-less expression on his face. The dubbed commercial begins with the line, “I’m Messi. I’m not naturally powerful, it’s just my nature to thrive.” (我是里奥·梅西,我不是天生强大,我只是天生要强)

However, Messi’s under-par performance brought disappointment to many fans and gave rise to lots of hilarious versions of the Mengniu commercial. The picture below has been remade with different punchlines that mocked Messi and other famous FIFA players. And the punchlines usually more or less go a little something like this: “I’m Lionel Messi. I’m panicking like mad right now.”

Here’s my attempt at translating one of my favourites:

Mengniu's FIFA commercial featuring Lionel Messi in China (photo taken from Baidu)
Mengniu’s FIFA commercial featuring Lionel Messi in China (photo taken from Baidu)

My attempt at translating: 我不是天生要强, 我是八成要凉

In another version, all that’s seen is a bare soccer field with the captions reading: “I’m Lionel Messi. I’ve already gone home.”

Mocking Argentina's loss during FIFA World Cup 2018 (Photo taken from Google)
Mocking Argentina’s loss during FIFA World Cup 2018 (Photo taken from Google)

11. Skr

As many of you probably know already, the term “skrt” is a relatively hiphop onomatopoeia that represents the sound of rubber wheels scratching against the concrete when you drift or turn abruptly. Nowadays, it’s used as a slang to express excitement and humor. Often used as “skrt skrt” with a minor voice crack by many rappers.

Kris Wu on the show Rap of China (Photo taken from Baidu)
Kris Wu on the show Rap of China (Photo taken from Baidu)

Although misused by Canadian rapper Kris Wu, the term went viral in China in July of 2018. Wu used the term as an adjective to praise something or someone on the show Rap of China.

  • Example:
    Man that guy’s so skr!
    His flow is too skr!
    The breaks between the bars are skr skr!
A sketch of Kris Wu used as a sticker in WeChat (Photo taken from Baidu)
A sketch of Kris Wu used as a sticker in WeChat (Photo taken from Baidu)

12. Confirmed with my eyes (确认过眼神)

This phrase can be roughly translated as “I’ve confirmed it now that our eyes have met”. Taken from the lyrics of a Chinese pop song named “醉赤壁” (zui chi bi) by artist JJ Lin. The original lyrics go a little something like this: “After looking into your eyes, I’m sure that you’re the one for me.”

(GIF taken from Google)
(GIF taken from Google)

This is another popular phrase that went viral because of its wide flexibility to be paired with pretty much anything. The neutral clause can be completed with anything to provide irony. The clauses usually rhyme in Chinese.

  • Examples:
    “I’ve confirmed it with my eyes, you’re the person I despise.” (确认过眼神,是想怼的人)
    “I’ve confirmed it with my eyes, I need to give you the stink eye walk by.” (确认过眼神,是不想理的人)
    “I’ve confirmed it with my eyes, you can’t be considered mankind.” (确认过眼神,根本不是人)
    “I’ve confirmed it with my eyes, you’re my boss’ wife.”(确认过眼神,是老板的女人)
    etc.

13. Official Announcement! (官宣)

Literally “Official announcement!”

This term became popular following Chinese celebrity Zhao Liying’s wedding announcement with Feng Shaofeng on her Weibo account. She posted a photo of her marriage certificates with these two characters as the caption. It has since been a popular way for netizens to announce something as if they were making an official announcement.

Screenshot of Zhao Liying's Weibo account on Dec 16 (Image taken from Baidu)
Screenshot of Zhao Liying’s Weibo account on Dec 16 (Image taken from Baidu)
  • Example:
    Posting a picture of books on your social media account with this as the caption and two heart emojis just means you love books, or you love studying.

14. Prick (杠精)

(Image taken from Google)
(Image taken from Google)

This term came from another verb—抬杠 (tai gang). 抬 (tai) means to lift, or to carry. 杠 (gang) can mean a thick pole, bar or rod. When combined together, 抬杠 means arguing with someone for no reason, or misinterpreting one’s opinion deliberately. And 精 (jing) just means a spirit. So a 杠精 (gang jing) is just someone who’s out to make your day a nightmare by intentionally taking your words the wrong way.

  • Example:
    A: Man my mom’s bitching about not cleaning again.
    B: Wow, calling your mom a bitch? Seriously, you ought to stop disrespecting your mom. #respect
    A: My god, you’re such a 杠精 (prick).

15. Men are all pig feet (男人都是大猪蹄子)

Translated as “Men are all pig feet”. I guess the closest English equivalent would be something like: “Men are all dicks.”

Screenshot of Yanxi Palace (Photo taken from Baidu)
Screenshot of Yanxi Palace (Photo taken from Baidu)

This particular theme originated from the popular Chinese drama Yanxi Palace. In short, two women were arguing and one says to the other in a generalized fashion, “men are all giant pig feet”, which really just means “men are all thickheaded liars who cheat on you. In short, dicks.” So I guess nowadays, “pig feet” can be used to describe someone (usually men) as dull or stupid.

  • Example:
    A: My boyfriend bought me a flowers for Valentine’s Days. I’ve told him I was allergic!
    B: Men are all pig feet.

So that’s it! Got more you’d like to share with us? Message us on our Facebook page or e-mail us at [email protected]

Featured Image Source: Google.

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