Chinese Urban Dictionary: Xidi

By Mia Li, January 24, 2018

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Xidi/ Xǐ dì / 洗地 v. to defend someone who is most likely guilty, to defend something inexcusable

A. I'm only saying that if I was a Wall Street banker, I’d totally grab the opportunity to make millions, too.

B. Look at you xidi for the bankers who caused the recession! How much did they pay you?

A. Would you have left money on the table, if it had been you?

B. You disgust me.

If you are having your carpets cleaned and your floor washed at a time that's not spring cleaning, something bad has probably happened in your house, and now you are trying to cover it up. It could be anything from adultery to murder – no one orders a full car detailing for fun. Such is the logic of xidi. Literally meaning “to wash the floor,” xidi refers to covering up a crime. But in Chinese slang, it has come to mean the act of defending or excusing someone of a crime that they have probably committed.  

Xidi can be trying to find excuses for people's bad behaviors, like when people say ”she probably came on to him,” when a public figure is accused of sexual harassment. Or it can be excusing bad things by trivializing them, like saying, “it's just a lack of wind” when the AQI is above 500. 

In public life, xidi often happens when a spokesperson of an organization is defensive after a public scandal, such as when United Airlines said they were "re-assigning seats" when a passenger was forcefully beaten and dragged off a flight

Since the person or organization's bad behavior is already out of the bag, they have lost all credibility. Those who xidi for them instantly lose their credibility too. In fact, the act of xidi implies that the latter is an accomplice of the former, getting paid to wash the floor for the offenders. This is clear in the origin of the word: xidi comes from Stephen Chow's 2004 film Kung Fu Hustle, in which policemen are paid off by gang members. Every time the gang kills someone, they yell “officer, come xidi” and the police clean up the scene.

That's why xidi is such an emotionally charged word – sometimes it seems like you can be called xidi no matter who you defend. Or, when you’re angry, any defense can sound like xidi to you. It makes xidi one of the most used words in online arguments – and probably the most abused one as well.


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