Answer to Chinese Emoji: A Second Second Language

Answer: B As a technology user, you probably often reach into your “表情包(biǎoqíng bāo)” or “emoji bag” to represent some feeling that needs more than words. With this lesson you will get behind the scenes on what the emoticon actually means when it is sent by a Chinese person. You might be surprised to find that it is used to mean something different than you thought! You can also use the words correlated with the emojis in daily speech or on social media and expand your Chinese vocabulary.

The first emoticon in the quiz is of a smile. In Chinese, this emoticon is called 微笑(wēixiào) and is also used to describe the action of someone smiling.
Here are some examples of how to use this word in Chinese:

Māma de liǎnshàng lòuchū le wēixiào.
妈妈    的    脸上       露出   了 微笑。
Mother had a smile on her face.

Tā dàizhe tiānzhēn de wēixiào wàngzhe wǒ.
她  带着    天真      的  微笑      望着      我。
She is wearing an innocent smile while gazing at me.

Yet, this emoticon has another meaning when it is used! Often when it is sent, it means the other person has nothing to say or they don’t want to talk anymore. If you receive just a smiling face it might mean the conversation is over.

This cute emoticon, although perhaps isn’t used as much in the west, is fairly popular in China. It has a couple of different meanings, all usually used in a playful manner. It could be used to say someone thinks something is boring or is feeling carefree. As in the quiz, it can be a way to express disdain, like they 看不起(kàn bù qǐ) or look down on something the other person has said.
The character 抠(kōu) means “to dig out” or “to pick out” and 鼻(bí) means “nose.” So the name for this emoticon is “pick nose.” Although this action might carry a different meaning in other cultures, in China it has been used as an action to express disdain, particularly when its the pinky finger that is used. You also might say to a small child, 别抠鼻(bié kōubí) or don’t pick your nose!

This emoticon has become very popular in China recently. Perhaps because of its newness it shares a similar meaning in both the west and China. It is usually used in scenarios where something is so funny, they laugh until they cry. The character “笑(xiào)” means “laugh” or “smile,” and the character “哭(kū)” means “cry.”

Kàndào nǐ chīfàn de yàngzi, jiǎnzhí ràng rén xiàokū le.
看到     你  吃饭  的  样子, 简直    让    人  笑哭   了。
It simply makes people laugh until they cry when seeing your manner of eating.

Lǎobǎn fā le 100 yuán de hóngbāo, yǒugè tóngshì lǐng le 0.14 yuán, yào xiàokū wǒ a!
老板     发 了100  元    的   红包 ,   有个   同事      领  了 0.14  元, 要   笑哭   我 啊!
The boss sent out 100 yuan worth of lucky money and a colleague received just 0.14 yuan. Its going to make me cry from laughing!


To westerners this emoji might look like a cute way to wave good-bye to someone. Yet, in China, the meaning can be much more extreme! When you are speaking with someone and you say something they don’t like or makes them unhappy, they might send this emoticon. That is to say, they don’t want to be your friend anymore.

So, its another way to break off relations or end the conversation. Luckily, the majority of the time this is just meant as a joke and nothing else. Just make sure when you use it, you understand its dual meaning – goodbye or the end of a friendship!

Shíjiān guòde zhēnkuài, yòu dàole gāi shuō zàijiàn de shíhou le.
时间     过的    真快,    又   到了  该   说     再见  的   时候  了。
Time has passed so quickly, again it is time to say goodbye.

Related Post:
When You Feel Crushed, Use “心塞(xīnsāi)” in Mandarin
<<Back to “Chinese Emoji: A Second Second Language”
Chinese Popular Words
General Chinese (Beginner Level) 
General Chinese (Intermediate Level) 

2 thoughts on “Answer to Chinese Emoji: A Second Second Language”

  1. I have a grammar question about parts of speech. In the sentence Ni Hao, obviously Ni is the subject, but is hao an adjective – as it modifies the subject; an adverb as is modifies how one is; or a verb? Is Ni hao ma? different?

    1. jennifer.zhu

      Hi, Steve. “你好” is equivalent to “Hello” in English. It is just a simple sentence for greeting. There is no need to analyze the character one by one. “你好吗?” has the same sentence structure as “你好”. But the character “吗” at the end of “你好吗” is used to form the interrogative sentence.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top