Glossary of Chinese Terms

Glossary of Chinese Terms 2017-05-28T18:37:17+00:00

Here you can learn some Mandarin Chinese

Bai Qiu En (白求恩) – Dr. Norman Bethune, Canadian surgeon viewed as a hero in China

Bu Liao Qing (不了情) – “Love Without End,” a song originally made famous by actress Lin Dai in a Chinese classic film

bu si niao  (不死鸟) – immortal bird, used in reference to the phoenix

Chang’e (嫦娥) – beautiful immortal woman living on the moon

Chang’e xia fan (嫦娥下凡) – Chang’e has returned to earth, an expression used to describe a girl’s beauty

chengyu (成语) – an idiom usually comprised of four characters often derived from classical Chinese literature

da jiang shan rong yi, zuo jiang shan nan (打江山容易,坐江山难) – to conquer a country is easy; to govern it well is hard.

da nan bu si, bi you hou fu (大难不死, 必有后福) – literally, big bad thing don’t die, then have good fortune. If you survive a disaster, you are guaranteed great fortune and happiness.

Deng Lijun (邓丽君) – a Chinese singer/superstar from Taiwan who won the hearts of millions before dying prematurely. Teresa Teng was her English name.

ding xiang hua (丁香花) – lilac(s)

di shui zhi’en, dang yong quan xiang bao (滴水之恩,当涌泉相报) – to repay as much as you can for even a small favour received in a time of need. “A drop of water in need, shall be returned with a spring indeed.”

dong tian guo qu le (冬天 過 去 了) – literally, winter has passed. In other words, hardships are over.

erhu (二胡) – traditional two-stringed Chinese instrument, sometimes referred to as the Chinese violin

fenghuang (凤凰) – phoenix

fenghuang shu  (凤凰树) – phoenix tree

feng yu guo hou shi cai hong (风雨过后是彩虹) – After wind and rain is a rainbow; in other words, hard times will pass

guaiguaide (乖乖的) – be good

Guanyin (观音) – viewed by many as the Buddhist goddess of mercy, the “female Buddha”

Gulangyu (鼓浪屿) – a tiny island near Xiamen in Fujian province, sometimes referred to as the “Island of Pianos”

hao ji le (好极了) – wonderful

hongbao (红包) – red envelopes. At Spring Festival children receive these with money tucked inside.

hua (花) – flower(s)

hua long dian jing (画龙点睛) – literally, paint dragon, dot eyes. A chengyu meaning to add the finishing touches to something and have it come to life in a remarkable way

I Ching (易经) – Taoist “Book of Changes,” an ancient Chinese text consulted for guidance

jiao hua  (狡猾) – sly teacher

Jingdezhen (景德镇) – a city in China famous for fine china, porcelain

junzi (君子)– superior or ideal person, often mentioned in the writings of Confucius

ke ai de (可爱的) – cute, lovely, sweet

ku nan de ren sheng zhi hui shi yi zhi jian qiang de ren geng qiang da (苦难的人生只会使意志坚强的人更强大) – a hard life will only make a strong-spirited person stronger

Laoshu Ai Da Mi (老鼠爱大米) – “A Mouse Loves Rice,” a cute Chinese pop song

liang shi yi you (良师益友) – a chengyu meaning you are my good teacher, my mentor and my friend.

long (龙) – dragon

long feng cheng xiang (龙凤呈祥) – a chengyu meaning the dragon and the phoenix together bring prosperity/good fortune.

Lu Xun (鲁迅) – renowned writer and satirist of the 20th Century

mei lan zhu ju  (梅兰竹菊) –  literally “plum, orchid, bamboo, chrysanthemum.” A chengyu honouring these special plants (referred to as “the Four Gentlemen”) for their seeming human qualities.

mei meng cheng zhen (美梦成真) – A chengyu meaning a beautiful dream that is hard to realize will come true if you are patient and industrious.

mo li hua (茉莉花) – jasmine flower

ni chi le ma? (你吃了吗?) – Have you eaten?

ni hao (你好) – literally, you well, this expression means hello

ni hen hao (你很好) – You are very nice

pinyin (拼音) – literally, put-together sounds. A system used to transcribe Mandarin Chinese sounds by using the same alphabet as Western languages. (All the words in this list are shown in pinyin.)

qiang da chu tou niao (枪打出头鸟) – an idiom meaning the bird that sticks its head out of the nest will have his head shot off. In other words, don’t stand out if you want to be safe.

shou de yun kai jian yue ming  (守得云开见月明) – wait for the clouds to open and you will see the moon shine. In other words, keep your faith alive and things will get better.

Shou Xing (寿星) – literally: star of long life. Taoist god of longevity

Tao (道) – way the universe works, essence of the Universe that keeps everything functional and in balance, sometimes referred to as “the way”

tao guang yang hui (韬光养晦) – literally: “hide light nourish weaknesses.” A chengyu meaning to maintain modesty as you develop your character.

tao yan  (讨厌) – something like “you’re disgusting” or “I hate you.” Often used by a girl to feign dislike for a boy who is interested in her.

wai jiao (外教) – foreign teacher

wang nian zhi jiao (忘年之交) – literally, “forget year (age) friendship,” special inter-generational friendships

(wei) wu wei  (为无为) – literally, action without action or effortless doing, a Taoist concept meaning to live according to one’s own true self, surrendering to the natural flow or rhythm of one’s life.

wo ai nimen (我爱你们) – I love you guys

wo bao le (我饱了) – I’m full.

wo shi Jianadaren (我是加拿大人) – I’m Canadian.

xiao (小 ) – little

xiang (想) – think

xin nian kuaile (新年快乐) – literally, new year happy; Happy New Year

xin xiang shi cheng (心想事成) – literally, heart thinking becomes successful. A chengyu meaning you will realize your heart’s dreams.

xie xie ni (谢谢你) – thank you

xi xin (洗心) – literally, wash heart. Purify your mind and heal your emotions.

you yuan (有缘)– brought together by fate

you yuan wu fen ( 有缘无分) – fated to romantically meet but not to stay together

yuan fen (缘分) – fate

zhe ge (这个) – this one

zou ba (走吧) – let’s go


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