Chinese Urban Dictionary: Qiushengyu

By Mia Li, December 18, 2019

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qiushengyu / qiú shèng yú / 求生欲 n. the willingness to come up with torturous and innovative ways to please one’s significant other, friends or family members

A: I’m off to my job interview. 

B: Good luck! 

A: But I’ve already used up all my luck the day I met you. 

B: Aw! You’ll nail the interview with such a strong qiushengyu.

We all know that the best way to make a person prove his or her love for you is to torture them. A wife makes her husband spend six hours in a mall on a Saturday so she knows how much he loves her. A boyfriend travels to the other side of the city to get the kind of bubble tea his girlfriend likes to please her. You prove your love for your mother by buying six feet-washing machines and returning five of them. 

Besides doing things, we also say things to please our loved ones. Any good boyfriend knows to tell his girlfriend that she is the prettiest girl at a party. You won’t hesitate to tell your father he looks the youngest at his high school reunion. 

We endure mild discomfort and tell bold-faced lies in broad daylight to please our loved ones because we can’t live without them and can’t bear to lose them. Literally meaning “the will to survive,” qiushengyu is the willingness, and often ability, to please those important people in our lives by whatever means possible. 

Your qiushengyu can be tested in many ways. Sometimes it’s in the form of a tricky question like: “Who would you save first if your mother and I both fall into a river?” (Hint: The right answer is “you,” regardless of who you are speaking to, and you must answer in no more than two seconds.) Sometimes it’s compliment-fishing comments like “I wonder if last year’s dress will still fit me…” (Correct answer: “You are beautiful no matter what!”) Sometimes it’s straight up torture, like making you sit through a four-hour-long French film. 

Those who are very good at pleasing their loved ones are said to have a strong qiushengyu. They know exactly what to say when presented with tricky questions and can answer in a timely fashion. Those who have weak qiushengyu often don’t know the right answer or are unable to say it at the right time. But don’t worry, once you’ve endured enough of this sweet torture by the significant people in your life, your qiushengyu will only get stronger! 

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