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3 Chinese slang terms for expressing looks


1. 小鲜肉 xiǎo xiān ròu

Literally meaning "fresh little meat", this phrase describes those young, cute, handsome and innocent male idols, roughly between the ages of 12 and 25. Originally, it was used on celebrities, but now it can refer to ordinary guys as well, as long as they fit the criteria.

“小鲜肉”英文字面意思为“fresh little meat”,指年龄为12到25岁之间的年轻、英俊、可爱无邪的男性偶像。小鲜肉原用于指明星,现也指符合这些标准的普通男性。

Firstly, let's look at the character breakdown:


小xiǎo: means that one should be young and energetic. The average age should be 25.


鲜 xiān: indicates that one has not been through many relationships


肉ròu : refers to strong muscle, which makes someone looks healthy.


To qualify as this, a young man needs to have good skin as well as six-pack abs. Usually, it is similar to the American slang term "hunk".


小鲜肉have a large number of fans and the movies starred by them have made tremendous achievements commercially.


The "Tiny Times" trilogy, produced by author-turned-director Guo Jingming, grossed 1.3 billion yuan in the past two years, outselling many Hollywood blockbusters.


The rom-com "Miss Granny: Back to 20", led by heartthrob Lu Han, earned 360 million yuan. The initial investment for the film was about 20 million yuan.


For Rao Shuguang, secretary general of the China Film Association, fresh meat fever reflects a demographic change in Chinese moviegoers. With fast economic growth, more and more young people are willing to pay to go to the theater, and filmmakers have been quick to meet their demands, according to Rao.



2. 颜值 yán zhí
It is one of the hottest buzzwords in Chinese. Literally, "颜" means "appearance" and "值" is short for "数值" (numerical value; figure); So the word basically means "appearance score". The higher someone's 颜值 is, the more beautiful/pretty/handsome he or she is.

“颜值”是最热门的词之一。“颜”的意思是指“外貌”,“值”则是“数值(numerical value; figure)”的简称。因此,该词的基本意思为“外貌分值”。一个人颜值越高,则越漂亮/英俊。

例如: 她被赞颜值爆表。
She is extremely beautiful.
(Literal meaning: She is praised for her extreme beauty, as the numerical value of her face goes off the charts.)


3. 明明可以靠脸吃饭,却偏偏要靠实力
kě yǐ kào liǎn chī fàn què piān piān yào kào shí lì

This slangy expression comes from Chinese comedian Jia Ling (贾玲). Chinese netizens accidently found an old photo of Jia Ling's, in which she looked young and pretty, quite different from her current appearance. When netizens discussed the photo, she relied wittily on her weibo, "我深情地演绎: 明明可以靠脸吃饭,却偏偏要靠才华。" (My story indicates: I could totally live on my good looks, but I chose to rely on my talent.) Due to its humor, the sentence became very popular on the Internet. Since then, it has been widely used to describe those who succeed at what they do by merit rather than by looks.

这一俚语出自中国喜剧演员贾玲。中国网友偶然发现了贾玲旧时照片,照片中她年轻美丽,和现在大不相同。网友纷纷讨论,贾玲在微博中机智回应“我深情地演绎了:明明可以靠脸吃饭,偏偏要靠才华” (英译:My story indicates: I could totally live on my good looks, but I chose to rely on my talent)。此后,由于其幽默的回答,这句话迅速在网络上流行开来,被广泛用于描述那些靠自己的才华而非相貌取得成功的人。


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