Most Popular Chinese Words 2016

When one is learning Chinese, he should be aware that any language is dynamic and always developing. Constraining only to textbooks will let you learn old-fashioned expression, and worst of all, make you lose interest in learning. It’s important to keep your vocabulary bank updated and speak the Chinese that people actually use in their daily lives.

In this article, we will sum up the 10 most popular and frequently used catchphrases and internet buzzwords in the year 2016. Also take time to check out the most popular Chinese words of 2015

Popular Chinese Words

小目标

xiǎo mù biāo, a small target

It’s now a sarcastic expression originating from the advice to the young given by China's richest businessman Wang Jianlin in August, who said, "You shouldn't be that ambitious. Set a small target first, like earning 100 million Yuan ($15 million)."

E.g.

xiǎnɡ yào shíxiàn dàmùbiāo, yīnɡɡāi xiān dìnɡ yíɡè xiǎomùbiāo.

想要实现大目标,应该先定一个小目标。

One should set a small target first in order to realize a big target.

Popular Chinese Words

洪荒之力

hónɡ huānɡ zhī lì, primitive power

Meaning one's full strength and energy, the word went viral on internet when it had been used by Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui in an interview during the Rio Olympics, saying that she had tried her best and was satisfied with the results in an exaggerating tone.

E.g.

zhè cì bǐsài, tā shǐ chū le hónɡhuānɡzhīlì.

这次比赛,她使出了洪荒之力。

She has used all her power in this game.

Popular Chinese Words

吃瓜群众

chī ɡuā qún zhònɡ, onlooker

Literally meaning “watermelon eater”, the word came from an interview of an old man. After a car accident, the journalist asked the old man what was going on. The old man replied with a puzzled face: “I know nothing. I was eating a watermelon just now.” His words soon became popular and people use吃瓜群众 to refer to an onlooker who doesn’t know anything about the truth.

E.g.

wǒ zhǐshì yíɡè chīɡuāqúnzhònɡ.

我只是一个吃瓜群众。

I am just an onlooker.

Popular Chinese Words

友谊的小船

yǒuyì de xiǎochuán, the small boat of friendship

The full sentence is“友谊的小船说翻就翻”, meaning “the boat of friendship is very easy to turn over”. The phrase is used as an irony to some friendship which is very fragile.

E.g.

tāmen yòu chǎojià le, yǒuyì de xiǎochuán zhēnshì shuōfānjiùfān.

她们又吵架了,友谊的小船真是说翻就翻。

They quarreled again. The boat of friendship can turn over easily.

Popular Chinese Words

套路

tào lù, tricks

套路 is a negative word used to describe someone who is very sophisticated. If somebody “套路多/深”, it means he/she is full of cunning tricks. However, this word can be used as a joking way between friends.

E.g.

tā zhèɡerén tàolù tài shēn le.

他这个人套路太深了。

He is a very sophisticated person.

Popular Chinese Words

葛优瘫

ɡě yōu tān, to slouch down like Ge You

葛优瘫 is a gesture of lying down. It came from the scene shot of the comedy “我爱我家”. The gesture shows that one is depressed and seems to be losing interest in life.

E.g.

ɡěyōutān shì yìzhǒnɡ shēnɡhuó tàidù.

葛优瘫是一种生活态度。

To slouch down like Ge You is a kind of life attitude.

Popular Chinese Words

一言不合就 …

yì yán bù hé jiù …, once a disagreement occurs, then …

E.g.

tāde píqi bùhǎo, jīnɡchánɡ yìyánbùhé jiù dònɡshǒu.

她的脾气不好,经常一言不合就动手。

She has a bad temper. Once a disagreement occurs, she will beat someone.

Popular Chinese Words

蓝瘦香菇

lán shòu xiānɡ ɡū, to feel awful and want to cry

蓝瘦香菇 is homophonic for “难受,想哭”. A young man from China’s Nanning province made a video of himself after breaking up with his girlfriend. In the video, the young man who has a strong accent of Chinese looked very sad and said “蓝瘦香菇”, which he actually wanted to say is “难受,想哭”.

E.g.

wǒ xīn mǎi de shǒujī diū le, fēichánɡ lánshòu xiānɡɡū.

我新买的手机丢了,非常蓝瘦香菇。

I lost my newly-bought cell phone. I feel so awful and want to cry.

Popular Chinese Words

工匠精神

ɡōnɡ jiànɡ jīnɡshén, the spirit of a craftsman

E.g.

yíɡèrén zuòshìqínɡ yào yǒu ɡōnɡjiànɡ jīnɡshen.

一个人做事情要有工匠精神。

One should do anything with the spirit of a craftsman.

Popular Chinese Words

供给侧

ɡōnɡ jǐ cè, supply-side (reform)

E.g.

ɡōnɡjǐcè ɡǎiɡé duì zhōnɡɡuó jīnɡjì láishuō jìshì tiǎozhàn, yěshì jīyù.

供给侧改革对中国经济来说既是挑战,也是机遇。

The Supply-side Reform will pose both a challenge and an opportunity to China's economy.

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