Let’s try something a bit lighter today. Here’s 15 words in Chinese I’ve collected over the years that I think are pretty funny when translated literally. Some of them also reveal a little bit about Chinese culture and thinking. Enjoy!
1.谈恋爱 – tán liàn ài
If you date someone, you “talk about love” (谈恋爱).
2.吃豆腐 – chī dòu fu
If you come on to someone, you “eat tofu” (吃豆腐).
3.种草莓 – zhǒng cǎo méi
If you give someone a hickey, you “plant a strawberry” (种草莓).
4.出轨 – chū guǐ
If you cheat on your partner, you “go off the rails” (出轨).
5.戴绿帽子 – dài lǜ mào zi
If your partner cheats on you, you “wear a green hat” (戴绿帽子).
6.放鸽子 – fàng gē zi
If you stand someone up, you “release a pigeon” (放鸽子).
7.发福 – fā fú
If you put on weight, you “get lucky” (发福).
8.狂犬病 – kuáng quǎn bìng
If you get rabies, you get the “crazy dog disease” (狂犬病).
9.抱佛脚 – bào fó jiǎo
If you leave something to the last minute, you “grab the Buddha’s foot” (抱佛脚).
10.炒鱿鱼 – chǎo yóu yú
If you’re fired from your job, you have your “squid fried” (炒鱿鱼).
11.穿小鞋 – chuān xiǎo xié
If you make things hard for someone by abusing your power, you make them “wear small shoes” (穿小鞋).
12.打酱油 – dǎ jiàng yóu
If something has nothing to do with you, you say you’re just here “to buy soy sauce” (打酱油).
13.马上 – mǎ shàng
When you do something immediately, you do it “on a horse” (马上)
14.加油 – jiā yóu
When you encourage and cheer someone on, you urge them to “add oil” (加油).
15.隐形眼镜 – yǐn xíng yǎn jìng
You don’t wear contact lens, you wear “invisible glasses” (隐形眼镜).