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Are You a Victim of “Late-night Poisoning”?

Aug. 5, 2021

Have you heard the term “late-night poisoning”? It’s like this:

Imagine it’s the middle of the night and you get home after a hard day of work. As you collapse into bed, you flip open your phone to watch something funny before you go to sleep but suddenly you spot… one of your friends has posted a picture of the 5-course Michelin-starred meal they ate that night!

HSK 3 quiz

The phrase “深夜放毒 (shēn yè fàng dú)”, or, “late-night poisoning” refers to when you should be sleeping but are kept awake by someone’s message or post of something you’d want (usually something food-related). In other words, they’ve poisoned your sleep!

HSK 3 quiz

1. Breaking down the expression “深夜放毒(shēn yè fàng dú)”

Let’s take a moment to look at the component parts of the whole expression, namely “深夜(shēn yè)” and “放毒(fàng dú)”.

深夜(shēn yè
late at night; in the small hours of the morning

例句 (lìjù):
wǒ  zuó  tiān  gōng  zuò  dào  shēn  yè.
我    昨    天       工    作     到     深     夜。
Yesterday I worked well into the night.

Here are some other expressions that refer to late at night; can you try using them in a sentence? Write your attempts below!

a. 半夜三更 (bàn yè sān gēng): in the depth of the night; lit. midnight

b. 夜深人静 (yè shēn rén jìng): in the dead of night; lit. late night when all is still

c. 月黑风高 (yuè hēi fēng gāo): lit. a moonless night when the wind howls


“dú” is a general word for poison, drugs, or poisoning of all kinds. It’s pretty versatile, meaning you might see it pop up anywhere from “Snow White” to a criminal court!

Nouns: poison; toxin; drug; narcotic
Adjectives: poisonous; noxious; malicious; cruel
Verbs: to poison; to drug

例句 (lìjù):
Tā   fǒu   rèn   zì    jǐ     xī   guò    dú.
他   否    认    自   己    吸   过    毒。
He denied he had used drugs

tā    de   xīn  cháng  zhēn  dú!
他    的    心     肠      真     毒!
He’s so cruel!

HSK 3 quiz

2. How to deal with “late-night poisoning”

We can all agree that sending someone pictures of a scrumptious meal when they’re about to sleep is inhuman, right? Well, that’s certainly not going to stop some people from doing it, so let’s talk about what to do when someone does you wrong.

Option 1:

This expression is usually used jokingly – you wouldn’t say it if you were really upset, but nonetheless if someone does this to you, you can’t let them off easy! Below are some ways you can talk about it next time someone starts your stomach grumbling at 12am:

例句 (lìjù):
Nǐ   bié   shēn  yè  fàng  dú   le,   zhè   shì    zài     lā   chóu   hèn.
你    别    深    夜     放   毒   了,  这     是     在     拉     仇     恨。
Stop making me jealous, you’re really pushing my buttons!

Zuò  wéi  yí  gè   chī   huò,  lǐ   lín   měi   tiān   zhǔn   shí   shēn   yè   fàng    dú.
作     为  一    个  吃   货,  李   林     每    天    准       时     深      夜     放      毒。
As a foodie, Li Lin “poisons us” like clockwork every night.

HSK 3 quiz

Option 2:

以毒攻毒 (yǐ dú gōng dú): to fight fire with fire

Of course, there’s always the option to “以毒攻毒 (yǐ dú gōng dú)” – literally, “to fight poison with poison” – so when your phone dings and picture of someone’s salivating-inducing lunch pops up, now’s the time to dig through your photo album and send back a picture of that New York-style cheesecake you had last week! Let the flame wars begin…

Have you ever “poisoned” someone late at night? There must have been a good reason for it… tell us about it in the comments below (or link to your blog post with your tasty brunch pics!)

You May Want to Learn More :
“Sleepless in Shanghai? Here’s Why”
“Tour the World of Chinese Drinking Culture”
”5.20: Another Valentine’s Day in China”

HSK 1 quiz

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