The Chinese language has a close relationship with centuries of cultural wisdom and storytelling tradition. It is packed with unofficial phrases, idioms, and slang that can’t be found in any classes or textbooks but only on Chinese TV shows or in daily conversations. Knowing funny Chinese phrases is important (yet enjoyable) to one’s Chinese learning journey. It’ll help you learn new vocabulary, express your opinion more humorously, and communicate effectively with native Mandarin speakers.
This article will introduce you to the top 10 most popular funny Chinese phrases to use in daily life, and of course, they can turn you into a comedian!
1. 你吃错药了吗？(Nǐ chī cuò yào le ma?)
This Chinese phrase can be translated to “Did you eat the wrong medicine?” in English. In other words, it’s a way of saying, “What’s wrong with you?” You can use this phrase when you think someone’s acting strange.
2. 沉鱼落雁 (chén yú, luò yàn)
In Chinese, she’s not just drop-dead gorgeous. She could be “dazzling enough to make the fish drown, and the geese fall from the sky.” (沉鱼落雁, chén yú luò yàn) It’s an odd compliment that describes someone as so beautiful that they literally are murdering people with their looks
This phrase originates from the ancient Taoist author 莊子 (Zhuāng Zǐ), who coincidentally has written a lot of stuff about fish.
Though this phrase is more often used to describe incredibly beautiful women, you can also use it to describe particularly handsome men.
3. 落汤鸡 (luò tāng jī)
This funny Chinese phrase literally means “drop soup chicken” or “a chicken who falls into soup” in English. It is ironic because no sensible chicken would willingly boil itself in hot water. It can be understood as “a person who usually makes a mistake,” like someone trips and falls or drops things.
4. 有钱就是任性! (yǒu qián jiù shì rèn xìng!)
“有钱就是任性!” is a famous expression to describe wealthy Chinese people or an average Joe who just received their paycheck and begins to behave immaturely or recklessly.
This expression comes from a true story about a pharmaceutical company defrauding a rich man. Long after he realized it was a scam, the man kept going because he wanted to see how far they could get away with it; he was so incredibly rich that it didn’t matter. This story was so widespread that it even became a meme a couple of years ago.
5. 二百五 (èrbǎiwǔ)
The number 205, which is pronounced as 二百五 (èrbǎiwǔ) is a very common insult similar to the English word ‘idiot.’ You can call someone a 二百五 when you believe they’re doing something pretty stupid.
One explanation for this phrase comes from diào, a currency unit of ancient China. During that time, the money used was copper pieces tied together through square holes in their center. Originally, 1000, a unit of the currency, was called a 弔 diào. The term 半弔子 bàndiàozi means “half a diào”, which also indicates a person with poor cognitive abilities. For that reason, modest Chinese disciples sometimes call themselves “bàndiàozi” to humbly depreciate their own expertise. In this case, bàndiàozi is not necessarily a pejorative term. Nevertheless, “250” (èrbǎiwǔ), a quarter of diào has become an offense and an insult in China.
6. 笨蛋 (Bèndàn) or 傻蛋 (shǎ dàn)
笨蛋 is similar to 二百五 but less offensive. It can be translated into “dumb egg,” which means the same thing to “idiot.” However, it’s quite a cute way of saying someone is a bit dumb.
傻蛋 (shǎ dàn) is also a common and lowkey hilarious insult in Mandarin. 傻蛋 means “stupid egg.” Depending on the situation, it can be a harmless and playful insult when a friend does something dumb. Otherwise, it can be straight-up fightin’ words if said to a stranger.
7. 长舌妇 (cháng shé fù)
This phrase implies a woman who enjoys gossiping about others’ business and personal lives. In Mandarin, such a woman would be 长舌妇, meaning “long tongue woman,” “sharp-tongued woman,” “busybody,” or “buttinsky.”
8. 拼命开车的人一定会到达那里 (Pīnmìng kāichē de rén yīdìng huì dàodá nàlǐ)
This phrase can be translated as “a man who drives like hell to get somewhere.” It describes a “speed demon” who drives like it’s their last day on earth. Saying “拼命开车的人一定会到达那里” is an amusing yet clever way to caution reckless drivers.
You might also be interested in:
- How To Speak Chinese Like A Native.
- The Guide to Chinese Internet Slang: How to Chat Like a Native Speaker.
The bottom line
Though these funny Chinese phrases are not taught in Mandarin textbooks, they are certainly an essential part of a native speaker’s everyday conversation. They reflect reality and bring a more humorous (and even sarcastic) way to express someone’s opinion towards things. Keeping these phrases in mind will definitely help you sound more natural, connect with Chinese speakers, and make your language learning journey more entertaining.
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