Six Chinese Internet buzz words you need to understand!


China has a unique internet and online culture, with its own set of phrasea.  As part of our work on naming, we are a little obsessed with language.  So we wanted to introduce some of the key words shaping the local internet.

1 – Shua 刷 - to swipe across



But on China’s internet it means: “to browse ” “to go through quickly” or “to refresh”. 刷微博 (to browse Weibo) 刷微信 (to chat on WeChat) and 刷朋友圈 (to browse Moments in WeChat).  Essentially, the idea being ‘head down’ in your phone, swapping away, without awareness of your immediate surroundings.

2 – Shai 晒 - to bask in the sun



But on China’s internet it means:to share, or even show off!

With an original meaning of ‘bask’ or ‘dry in the sun’, the Chinese word ‘晒’ is now used to describe sharing or ‘showing yourself’ on Weibo and WeChat – online posting, sharing anything that can represent an attitude and lifestyle.

So you can  ‘晒’(share) selfies, foodies ‘晒’ exquisite delicacy, and travel enthusiasts ‘晒’ the places they have been to, basically everything you can think of. Among them all,  you can ‘晒’ images of your A4-sized waistline and Iphone 6 thin legs.

3 – Hong 红 - red, Communist



But on China’s internet it means:to become famous and popular

Another character used often among China’s netizens is ‘红’(red). It is well known that Chinese have a special connection to the color ‘red’. The phrase ‘网红’(Web-red) was coined to describe the normal netizens who became internet celebrities,  especially on Weibo. Weibo owner, Sina collaborated with Huawei (local phone brand) to throw a party to celebrate the ‘internet reds”. The most famous being Papi Jiang – read more here.

4 – Hei 黑 - black



But on China’s internet it means:to attack and criticise

Opposite to the positive term “red”, “black” ‘黑’ is used negatively.  Netizens turned it into an unfriendly verb to express the strong indifference, scorn or contempt towards someone.

5 – Tuan 团- social organization, to unite, dumpling-type food



But on China’s internet it means: to do group-shopping/team-buying (usually online)

The term comes from the regular online campaigns of group-shop on Taobao, called “团购” (Tuángòu), which usually offer discounts for group buying.  Currently, tuangou already becomes the hottest social commerce trend in China, thus, most of the shops offer a group-shop option to consumers.

As a result, “团” a regular daily activity for China’s netizens;  such as  团水果(to buy  fruit as a team),  团电影 (to buy movie tickets together) , 团优惠券(to get discount coupons as a group) – all are commonly used phrases online in China.

6 – Duo shou 剁手- to chop off your hands

Duò shǒu

But on China’s internet it means: to be a crazy and impulsive shopper on line

It was derived from the “Double 11” (November 11), China’s  Internet Shopping Day in 2015. Some netizens spent more money than their budget, meaning they could not cover their living expenses for the following month. Therefore, to curtail online shopping addictions, locals joke that they need “to chop their hands”.   They group, predominantly local women, will proclaim: 再买就剁手!(if I over-shop again, I will chop off my hands!).

Thus, new phases like “剁手党“ “剁手族”, “剁手帮”, refer to the proud community of online shopper who admit – they cant get enough.  So much so the term 剁手 is now interchangeable with ‘online shopping’.


About Author

Jerry Clode

Jerry Clode is Head of Digital & Social Insight at Resonance. He leads Resonance SMART, providing leading-edge research, strategy and naming for brands in China using bespoke methodologies. Jerry also produces Resonance's popular China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly publication covering modern marketing methods of the world's top brands.

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