Actually Useful Language Guides: How to Curse in Chinese

Actually Useful Language Guides: How to Curse in Chinese
Sep 28, 2016 By ShanghaiCityGirl

Good news, especially for big fans of dropping F-bombs: it is official and scientifically proven that swearing is good for you!

During my tedious five year study of applied psychology, I learned that there are many coping styles and strategies for dealing with stress. Among the most popular and most effective ones are: humor, relaxation, seeking support, physical recreation, and also….cursing!

A Harmless Release

And so that you wouldn’t accuse me of empty theories here, Google/Baidu the psychologists from England’s Keele University, who found that cursing is, “a harmless emotional release and can make you feel stronger and more resilient.” It can even relieve pain!

I can say from my own experience, that, for example – whenever my love/hate relationship with China happens to be more on the hate side – you know – one of those days when you, let’s say, immediately need a taxi. It’s raining and you desperately need to be at the airport/railway station well in advance, you are running out of time and the taxi shifus don’t notice your existence, the juicy ‘F’ bomb (well – in my case, Polish K bomb, because somehow it is more powerful to me) helps vent all the negative emotions one might have in such a moment.

However, since we are in China, it would be good for all of us to know how the locals release their daily frustrations – maybe their swearwords will turn out to be more effective than the ones you've been using!

Cursing in Chinese

Here’s a list of five most useful and popular Chinese swears, necessary for survival Chinese:

1) The F-Bomb: 我操 (wǒ cào)

In the above version, the second character means, “f*ck.” Some common variants of this character include 草 (“cao”) or 靠 (“kao”).The use of this one is exactly the same as the precious English F-bomb, however to me it still loses to my Polish counterpart – “kurva,” also appreciated by some foreigners.

2) Bitch: 傻屄 (shǎbī)

Imagine – It’s 2 or 3 a.m., super cold or rainy and a drunk crowd is waiting outside on the Bund, trying to get a taxi. If you implement your evil plot and jump out of nowhere, stealing the cab just right in front of someone, then – assuming the person is Chinese – expect to be called “shǎbī”– that means for them you are a “stupid bitch/asshole.”

3) F*ck Off!: 滚开/ 滚蛋 (gǔn kāi   /gǔn dàn) (dàn is ruder than kāi according to my trusted source)

Again, picture the above Bund situation. If you feel the need to defend your honor for being called “shǎbī,” you might want to shout back, “gǔn kāi /gǔn dàn,”  or just “gǔn,” which alone is more powerful than when assisted by kāi/ dàn and simply means “f*ck off!” Just be sure that first you lock the door.

4) Bullsh*t: 放屁 (fàng pì)

Picture this: you are at the fake market and there is this nice bag you want to buy for 80 RMB. The vendor keeps telling you it is real leather and won’t go down below 300 RMB, calling you “my friend.” You are so frustrated that you walk away, and he/she says,  “Ok, Ok  - 290!” Then you could ease the pain of your mental disappointment saying “fàng pì,” which means nonsense or bullsh*t (although the literal translation means fart).

5) Dumbass: 脑残 / 脑子进 水 (nǎocán/ nǎo zi jìn shuǐ)

The best example for the use. Imagine – it is summer, 35 degrees and you just parked your bike for a minute outside Family Mart to grab some nice, cold water. You get out only to see a person walking away with your vehicle, telling you it is theirs. After the first shock, and before you run to claim what is rightfully yours, you can say “nǎocán,” which means that the self proclaimed, new bike “owner” is a dumbass (the character 脑 stands for brain and 残 means incomplete or destroyed. The full meaning is brain dead or sh*thead) Or nǎo zi jìn shuǐ – where nǎo zi means brain and jìn shuǐ means water inside.

Venting Emotion

Timothy Jay -  a psychologist who devoted 35 years (!) of his life to study our use of profanity explains that cursing is more than just the release of aggression.

“It allows us to vent or express anger, joy, surprise, happiness," he remarked. "It's like the horn on your car, you can do a lot of things with that, it's built into you." Obviously he forgot to add that swearing is also necessary when you are getting used to a new culture!

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Keywords: Swearing in Chinese How to Curse in Chinese


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Oct 18, 2016 10:18 Report Abuse



I do like using profanities to idiots who make me annoyed. I can curse in Chinese, Korean, Thai, French, Japanese and English. I do like swearing in Thai, it sounds quite comical the way it rolls off your tongue. Chinese swearing is fun too, just make sure that it's not at some big guy with his buddies; or you will have a very bad day.

Sep 29, 2016 14:40 Report Abuse




Sep 28, 2016 09:40 Report Abuse



cannot understate the satisfaction gained of calling some obnoxious chinese guy a "f**king w**ker" at extremely high volume. it releases a lot of tension. You can bet they will not know what the last word means even though they are doing it daily.

Sep 26, 2015 13:10 Report Abuse



I should print them like flashcards and carry with me all the time. When I think I need them, I don't have to say them. I just flash them.

Jun 28, 2015 23:39 Report Abuse



SHABI The word has so many meanings, its meaning in any situation depends on who, what and where. Around here it usually refers either to a prostitute or to a dumbass.

Jun 14, 2015 00:10 Report Abuse



interesting that we are all told off by some posters to mind what we say 'because we are guests in China', and on the other-hand, this sort 'jokey' blog is promoted as oh-so-funny with the swearing as a clever response to the frustrations in China. Please ECC, credit the visitors to this site with some sort of intelligence, we are not all college age students with a under-developed puerile sense of humour. Although this might be the sort of visitor that you want to attract to the site. Or maybe you just want to reinforce the stereotype of the uneducated flaky loser foreigner type that makes Chinese people feel so smug.

Jun 07, 2015 22:13 Report Abuse



你妈的!This article is terrible! Is this the cuss word guide for foreigners still hung up on learning to count to 10 in 普通话(Mandarin)?

Jun 02, 2015 12:29 Report Abuse



Very useful. My Chinese colleagues were very amused when I checked the pronounciation with them.

Jun 01, 2015 15:57 Report Abuse



What a stupid article! Obviously you have nothing intelligent to write about. Most of these words, characters and meanings are wrong anyway. If you're going to write a garbage article, at least get it right.

Jun 01, 2015 10:36 Report Abuse



Garbage article? I am pretty sure that this is a "drag and drop" from her garbage blog.

Jun 01, 2015 11:23 Report Abuse




Jun 01, 2015 11:32 Report Abuse



swearing is an acknowledgement of interacting with responsive individuals. it's something i've refrained from doing long ago. they don't deserve it. if you get angry at a storm for disturbing your balance, you just look like a crazy man shouting in the wind.

Jun 01, 2015 09:25 Report Abuse



The character for fuck is wrong. It should be 肏 for cao(which rather brilliantly is made up of the characters for "enter" and "meat"). That said there are some character entry systems on phones and computers that won't allow you enter this character. Also shabi does not mean stupid bitch/arsehole but actually the far ruder stupid cunt.

Jun 01, 2015 09:20 Report Abuse



I hope you can understand why we didn't want to include the word "c*nt" in an article and substituted bitch instead.

Jun 01, 2015 11:04 Report Abuse



Well you did use Fuck in the article, so who cares?

Jun 01, 2015 21:31 Report Abuse



Oh I understand, but it's not much consolation when you get into trouble for using a far ruder insult than you intended.

Jun 02, 2015 22:52 Report Abuse



can't wait to put tis to use

Jun 01, 2015 08:22 Report Abuse



In China even if you're right, you're wrong. Take care using insults against Chinese nationals.

Jun 01, 2015 04:38 Report Abuse



LAOWAI Gui Lao seems to be far more prevalent in the south; I've only heard it a few times in Dongbei. I've heard "laowai" so many times, in reference to me, that I can easily tell the difference between a descriptive term and a pejorative or derogatory comment, even without knowing much Chinese. ANY word can be derogatory or insulting. Try it! It's like Rule 34, so maybe call this Rule 35.

Jun 14, 2015 00:09 Report Abuse



滚开 is not really a swear word. Its just a phrase for asking someone to buzz off, def not as harsh as fuck off.

Jun 01, 2015 01:24 Report Abuse