What is the meaning of 萌 (méng)? Does it mean 'cute'? In this article we'll talk about the Chinese character 萌.
The initial meaning of 萌 was 萌生 (méng shēng, produce). For example: 'This film produced in me the idea of going to Tibet to have a look.' There is also the word 萌芽 (méng yá, sprout), which means: the seed of a plant has broken the ground and sprouted, a seedling has sprouted.
In China, Japan and Korea, regardless of whether male or female, it is felt that women that look young and cute are the most attractive so women in these countries will do their make-up in a young style also representing sweetness and to look as cute as possible.
With this background, the modern meaning of to have 萌 is: 'cute'. The first occurrence of this was in Japanese mangas in which female characters were described as 萌. We can also say 'she is extremely 萌' ('she is 'cute' in the extreme). Later this was also used to describe animals, e.g. 'Giraffes are cute.' 'I find pandas cute as.' In these sentences it functions as an adjective. But 萌 can also be used as a verb in which case the meaning is 'to like': I really 萌 this manga (I really like this manga).
When we describe female characters in manga as 萌, on the one hand we are saying that they are 'cute', but not only 'cute'. So, what sort of female characters are cosidered 萌? In general they have the following traits:
Young, especially in the face, like a twelve or thirteen year old girl.
Big eyes, preferably bright and intelligent.
The head is proportionally large and the limbs proportianally small. They will look thin and weak. They are not those girls that with clearly defined muscles that like sport.
The hair is often coloured and with bangs.
萌 initially became popular in manga circles and later became popularised in the wider world through the internet with expressions such as 萌妹子 (méng mèi zi)、萌萌哒 (méng méng dā) and 卖萌 (mài méng) becoming popular. 卖萌 means the same as 'to act cute'. Nowadays in the internet there are a lot of pictures of animals which are designed to be cute. You just need to do a search on 卖萌的动物 and you will see.
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