12 Trendy Chinese Phrases from 2019 You May Have Missed

By That's, December 26, 2019

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The good, the bad and the ugly. The weird and the wacky. As is the That’s tradition, we’ve compiled our 2019 China Year in Review series. So sit back, relax and relive the highs and lows of the last 12 months.

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 2019.

Anli / ān lì / 安利


What it means: v. to strongly recommend something to someone, to get someone hooked on a product, a celebrity, a TV show/film


A: What are you drinking?
B: This new beer that Mei Mei anli-ed to me.
A: Is it good?
B: I'm completey hooked! Now I have cases of it at home.

Read the full definition here.

Malisu / mǎ lì sū / 玛丽苏


What it means: n. someone who thinks they are perfect, or pretends to be perfect or powerful because they wish to


A: My dad says he never feels safe abroad because he is the country’s most prized spy in history.
B: But you guys just took a vacation to Italy. Did he feel safe there?
A: Yes, but he said that is only because he is a double agent.
B: Your dad is the oldest malisu I know.

Read the full definition here.

Xiaotianbing / xiǎo tián bǐng / 小甜饼


What it means: n. little cookie, someone who’s born into a well-off family, has an easy life, is nice and popular


A: Lily just got elected to be class president!
B: Good. She’s got good grades and loves to help others.
A: It must be good to be a xiaotianbing.
B: She once told me her parents taught her that studying was FUN.

Read the full definition here.

Renshe / rén shè / 人设


What it means: n. a social media persona we design for ourselves, maintain and cultivate


A: Try this cotton candy. It’s so delicious!
B: I can’t be seen eating cotton candy. It’d break my renshe.
A: What is your renshe exactly?
B: A mysterious and always pensive tough guy.
A: Okay, do you want to take some home and eat it when no one’s watching?
B: Yes, thank you.

Read the full definition here.



What it means: adv. very proficient in a skill; a task done extremely well


A: Little Zhang just asked out the prettiest girl in the office and she said yes! 
B: Wow. 666.
A: More like 666666.

Read the full definition here.

Caihongpi / cǎi hóng pì / 彩虹屁


What it means: n. rainbow fart; over-the-top compliments fans needlessly heap on their idols


A: Look at this gorgeous photo of Huang Xiaoming.
B: This is a picture of the back of his head.
A: He is so good looking that the back of his head makes me cry.
B: That's a good caihongpi.

Read the full definition here.

Xiaodian / xiǎo diàn / 笑点


What it means: n. the threshold of funniness or amusement required to make one laugh


A: I can’t stop watching this hilarious video of a squirrel falling out of a tree.
B: Your xiaodian has gotten so low in the last year.
A: I’m crying from laughter!
B: Good for you. I’ll put the clip on a loop.

Read the full definition here.

Bolixin / bō lí xīn / 玻璃心


What it means: n. a person who is overly sensitive about criticism and reacts strongly to any mildly negative feedback


A: Great vacation photos! Your girlfriend looks much younger than you.
B: What are you saying? Are you saying I’m not good enough for her?!
A: No. It was just a casual observation. Don’t be such a bolixin.
B: How can you disrespect me like that?!

Read the full definition here.

Ningmengjing / níng méng jīng / 柠檬精


What it means: n. someone who is so envious of another person’s possessions or achievements so as to harbor suspicion and resentment


A: Look! This guy is live-streaming proposing to his girlfriend with 100,000 Xiaomi phones!
B: I bet they’ll get divorced within the year.
A: You are such a ningmengjing.
B: Ugh. I don’t even have a boyfriend.

Read the full definition here.

Fengkou / fēng kǒu / 风口


What it means: n. wind tunnel; an area or sector where, for a period of time, all investors want to invest in; a much-hyped but often empty concept


A: What is your new start-up?
B: It’s online-to-offline social-enabled and location-based haircuts.
A: So… a barbershop?
B: Yes, but a barbershop on a fengkou!

Read the full definition here.

Gaojihei / gāo jí hēi / 高级黑


What it means: v. to throw shade in a subtle and shielded way or even disguised as a compliment, to backhandedly diss someone


A: How is your new boss?
B: He has such a talent for stringing together many expletives in one sentence.
A: Is that gaojihei?
B: He is very talented indeed.

Read the full definition here.

Qiushengyu / qiú shèng yú /求生欲


What it means: 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.

Read the full definition here.

For more 2019 Year in Review coverage, click here.

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