Chinese Way of Saying Onlookers

Meaning of 吃瓜群众

The Internet buzz word 吃瓜群众(chī ɡuā qún zhònɡ) is on top of list of must-learn words recommended by our online Chinese tutors. Literally, it means “people eating watermelon”. 瓜 is a word for “melon”. In this phrase, it refers to watermelon specifically. However, the real meaning of 吃瓜群众 has nothing to do with watermelon.

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On various Internet forums where people post questions or discussions, a lot of people will engage in the discussion and start the casual chatting, some relevant to the point, some irrelevant. Some other people just choose to be onlookers instead of posting any comments or expressing an opinion. Since 2016, people started to call such kind of people吃瓜群众, as a way to show “I have nothing to do with the matter being discussed.” This phrase can be used to refer to onlookers who are unaware of the facts or those who don’t care what’s being discussed.

 

Where does 吃瓜群众 come from?

Nowadays in China, you can hear people say “吃瓜群众” very often in daily conversations, especially among young people. Where does the phrase originate from? Despite the many versions, one popular saying is that it came from a roadside interview. A reporter was asking an old man what was going on. The old man answered: “I don’t know anything. I was eating watermelon”. Then someone posted a comment under the news “我只是一个不明真相的吃瓜群众。(wǒ zhǐ shì yí ɡè bù mínɡ zhēn xiànɡ de chī ɡuā qún zhònɡ)- I am just the one who don’t know anything about the facts.”. Since then, it started to gain its reputation. On Dec. 14th, 2016, he word 吃瓜群众 was selected as one of the top ten most popular words 2016.

 

Examples

měiɡè xīnwén dū huì yǒu hěnduō chīɡuāqúnzhònɡ wéiɡuān.

每个新闻都会有很多吃瓜群众围观。

There will be many onlookers behind every piece of news.

 

    nǐ duì báibǎihé chūɡuǐ zěnmekàn?

A: 你对白百合出轨怎么看?

What do you think of Bai Baihe having an extra-marital affair?

 

  wǒ méi shénme kànfǎ. wǒ zhǐshì yíɡè chīɡuāqúnzhònɡ.

B: 我没什么看法,我只是一个吃瓜群众。

   Nothing. I am just a watermelon eater.

 

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