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10 well-known Chinese loanwords in English

Chinese words, Chinese loanwords, Chinese words in English

Here are 10 words commonly used in English language which come from Chinese language. Knowing these loanwords can make learning Chinese easier and understand the similarities between Chinese and English!


Gung Ho 共和

Pronounced "gòng hé" in Mandarin. The literal translation is, "work together." The English usage was popularized by Marines fighting in the Pacific in World War II. The phrase came to mean: "whole heartedly enthusiastic, and loyal, eager, and zealous."

在普通话里的发音为gòng hé,意思是"合作、同心协力"。在英语中广泛被使用是二战时期海军陆战队在太平洋作战时期。这个短语的意思是:"竭诚热情,忠诚、愿望、热心。"

Typhoon 台风

Pronounced "tái fēng" in Mandarin. The literal translation is "strong wind." Experts say the term, typhon from the Greek and Arabic, was strengthened with the Chinese translation.

在普通话中的发音为:tái fēng,直译过来就是:"强风"。有专家表示这个词汇源自于希腊语和阿拉伯语,中文里才发生了读音上的改变。

China 中国


In Chinese, the name is pronounced "zhōng guó" and literally means "the middle country." The name was first used by the Italian explorer, Marco Polo.

在中文里的读音为:zhōng guó,字面意思是"中间的国家。"最初使用这个词汇的人是意大利探险家马可波罗。

Silk 丝绸

Pronounced "sī chóu" in Mandarin. The word was first introduced to Western culture by smugglers who took silk worms and mulberry leaves out of China in 552 Common Era.

在中文里的读音为:sī chóu。这个词语第一次引入到西方是公元552年走私者将蚕、桑叶从中国带到西方的时候。

Feng Shui 风水

Literally wind and water. It is the Chinese belief in creating a spiritual balance in one's home and workplace. The word was first introduced to the Westerners in 1757.


Kowtow 磕头

Literally means "knock head." Pronounced "kòu tóu" in Chinese. In China the word is a way of bowing and touching the forehead to the ground to indicate respect. In English the word means to "be servile: to behave in an extremely submissive way in order to please somebody in a position of authority."

字面意思就是"叩头",在中文中的发音为:kòu tóu,意思是:鞠躬,前额碰到地上以示尊重。在英语中的意思是"奴化:为了取悦别人,表现得非常顺从。"

Lose Face 丢脸


The literal translation is "humiliation" and is pronounced "diū liǎn" in Chinese. The word is said to have been introduced to English speakers in 1876.

字面的意思是"丢脸、耻辱",发音为diū liǎn。据说这个词汇是在1876引进西方的。

Shanghai 上海

Shanghai is a Chinese seaport. The word in English came to mean, "to drug a man unconscious and ship him as a sailor." This was the practice of 'recruiting' sailors to the seaport of Shanghai.


Tai Chi 太极

In Chinese, the word is literally translated to the "supreme ultimate." It is now used in American lingo to describe the martial art of tai chi. Some emphasize the slow movements as a form of exercise, while others practice it as a martial art.


Oolong 乌龙茶

Literally "black dragon." First introduced to the English language in 1852 as a dark, black tea.


The article is translated and editted by Chinlingo. Please indicate the source (info.chinlingo.com) for any use, reproduction or transfer. 



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