高端大气上档次 (gāoduān dàqì shàngdǎngcì) became incredibly popular in 2013. Nobody is exactly sure of the etymology of the phrase. The most common theory is that it started on the 2005 TV soap opera My Own Swordsman (《武林外传》). In one particular episode, a cook was ordered to make a mooncake that was "high-end, elegant and classy". Frantically trying to get it right, he ended up making a hamburger. More often than not, the phrase is deployed in jest of something that's over-elaborated or contrives to be classy, such as:
I just ate a bowl of delicious high-end, elegant, classy instant noodles: lobster ﬂavor!
wǒ gāng chīle yīwǎn gāoduān dàqì shàngdǎng cì de fāngbiànmiàn: lóngxiā wèi de!
Another comic effect might be to use the term where the terms high-class or classy are more or less irrelevant. Thus, the term is redundant and accordingly amusing:
I want to make my resume look high-end, elegant, classy.
wǒ xiǎng ràng wǒ de jiǎnlì kànqǐlai gāoduān dàqì shàngdǎng cì.
Like many a Chinese word, the (rather long) phrase has mutated. Nowadays it is completely ﬁne to just drop the second character in each adjective for the abbreviated version, 高大上 (gāodà shàng), as in:
How can I make a high-end, elegant, classy travel plan on a 2,000 RMB budget?
wǒ zěnyàng cáinéng huā 2000 kuài qián guīhuà yīcì de lǚxíng?
If any conclusion can be drawn, then it's likely that if you really want to be high-end, elegant, or classy, then you be might well be better off not using any of these gaudy terms at all.
Translated from: theworldofchinese.com