12 Trendy Chinese Phrases from 2017 You May Have Missed

By That's, December 29, 2017

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201712/year-in-review-logo.jpgThose of us living in China might have been spared the tumultuous drama that our US counterparts have experienced in 2017, but like always, the Middle Kingdom has had its own fair share of attention-grabbing headlines. From the boom of shared bikes to a presidential visit from The Donald, our team has put together a list of 2017’s most unforgettable viral stories, recounting major events that defined the worlds of sports, tech, arts, fashion and food. Here’s to another year of eclectic, weird and wonderful life in China, we wouldn’t have it any other way. 

For more, follow our full 2017 Year in Review coverage. 

Each month, Mia Li introduces you to a trending phrase in our regular 'Chinese Urban Dictionary' series. Here's a look back at some notable highlights from the series in 2017.

1. Xiao Touming / xiǎo tòumíng / 小透明  

Xiao Touming

What it means: people who don't draw attention to themselves and are largely ignored in social situations.

A. Have you recovered from the flu?
B. Yes, thanks. But how did you know I had the flu?
A. You told me yourself when we spoke last week.
B. We spoke? I don't remember talking to you at all.
A. I guess that makes me a xiao touming.

Read the full definition here.

2. Zhang Zishi / zhǎng zīshì / 涨姿势

Zhang Zishi

What it means: Raise one’s social status through gaining knowledge.

A. This gallery is the best one to shop in if you have a penthouse loft with lots of natural light.
B. Zhang zishi!
A. You are so welcome.
B. I think ash gray is the best color if you are buying a Bentley this season.
A. Zhang zishi.

Read the full definition here.

3. Nixi / nìxí / 逆袭 

Chinese Urban Dictionary: Nixi

What it means: (noun) a vengeful comeback; (verb) to defeat those who defeated you, to strike back.

A. Why does that bureau official look so familiar?
B. He went to high school with us!
A. Oh my God, is he who I think he is? He was failing every class and almost didn't graduate.
B. Well he nixi-ed on us, and he’s now in charge of trillions of yuan.

Read the full definition here.

4. Zhuangbi / zhuāngbī / 装逼

Chinese Urban Dictionary: Zhuangbi

What it means: to pose, to pretend to be a bigwig.

A. I can’t come to dinner because I can’t eat at a public restaurant.
B. Why not?
A. I’m too famous on the Internet. I'll just plunge the restaurant into chaos.
B. We’ll book a private room then.
A. *Walks away*

Read the full definition here.

5. Ditupao / dìtúpào / 地图炮

Chinese Urban Dictionary: Ditupao

What it means: judging or discriminating against individuals or groups purely based on where they are from; stereotyping.

A. People who live in Guomao are soulless money grabbers.
B. Why are you firing ditupao on Guomao?
A. Because I live in the Gulou area for the purpose of feeling superior.
B. You are the victim of your own ditupao

Read the full definition here.

6. Bishilian / bǐshìliàn / 鄙视链


What it means: the chain of despises.

A. What are you reading?
B. Shakespeare. I’m a fan coz I went to school in the UK
A. I’m reading Thomas Piketty coz I studied economics at Cambridge
B. I recognize that you are one notch higher on the bishilian
A. Good

Read the full definition here.

7. Jianpanxia / jìanpánxiá / 键盘侠

Chinese Urban Dictionary: Jianpanxia

What it means: those who think they are getting justice served by commenting on social media.

A. That school of migrant workers’ children is closing down due to lack to funding.
B. But my timeline is flooded with hundreds of people calling it a grave injustice.
A. Yeah but they are all jianpanxia and will never do anything in real life to help the school.
B. All that indignation for nothing.

Read the full definition here.

8. Laosiji / lǎosījī / 老司机

Chinese Urban Dictionary: Laosiji

What it means: "an old driver", someone with a lot of experience, especially when it comes to dating; someone who's been doing something for a very long time, knows everything there is to know about it and is willing to teach newcomers.

A. I have been struggling with this PowerPoint presentation for weeks, and Lao Wang did it for me in minutes!
B. Wow Lao Wang is a Laosiji. It's so nice of him to teach you.
A. I know. I will be able to do it myself next time.
B. Thank god for Laosiji.

Read the full definition here.

9. Kengdie / Kēngdiē / 坑爹


What it means: deceptive, swindling, being a scam or a con.

A. When I was booking the hotel, it said “this price does not include lunch or dinner.” So I assumed that it included breakfast.
B. Did it?
A. Nope. It was so kengdie.
B. Indeed. 

Read the full definition here.

10. Cunzaigan/ Cúnzàigǎn / 存在感

Chinese Urban Dictionary: Cunzaigan

What it means: the feeling that others acknowledge that you exist; the sense that you are not ignored by others in a society; a validation of your existence.

A. Oh my god, Lily put naked photos of herself on WeChat Moments again.
B. She would do anything for cunzaigan.
A. I don't understand. Where is the fun in having a bunch of horny dogs follow you all day?
B. She is a cunzaigan addict.

Read the full definition here.

11. Youjin/ Yǒujìn / 友尽

Chinese Urban Dictionary: Youjin

What it means: “our friendship has ended."

A. How can you watch Harvey Weinstein films?
B. I like Shakespeare in Love.
A. But you are supporting an alleged rapist!
B. I can like his movies without endorsing his behaviors.
A. No you can’t. We are youjin. Don't call me ever again.

Read the full definition here.

12. Zhong Er / Zhōng èr / 中二

Chinese Urban Dictionary: Zhong Er

What it means: A full-grown adult who acts like a high schooler, someone who never grew out of adolescence.

A. Once I launch my app, I'll be the next Mark Zuckerberg.
B. Oh yeah? What does it do?
A. It connects things with people who want to buy them.
B. Like Taobao?
A. Yes, but much better. We’ll beat Taobao within the year, for sure.
B. It took Taobao 15 years to grow into what it is today.
A. You don’t get it. A friend in my WeChat group for startup geniuses said, “The lion doesn't concern itself with opinions of the sheep.”
B. Okay.

Read the full definition here.

For more 2017 Year in Review coverage, click here.

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