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Brexit? Learn “脱 (tuō)” to describe Britain’s decision

Jul. 13, 2016

Known in the UK as the EU Referendum, or the “Brexit” Referendum, on June 23rd 2016, the UK voted by 52% vs. 48% to leave the European Union, or “EU (欧盟) .” The EU (欧盟) is a political and economic union between 28 countries that is home to over 500 million people. The UK joined what is now the EU in 1973.

The news of “脱欧 (tuō ōu) Brexit” was a big story throughout the world, and news followers in China took notice as well. But how can we describe the UK voters’ decision to split from the EU? In Chinese, we can describe the UK voters’ decision to exit the EU by using the verb “脱 (tuō) to leave.” The verb “脱 (tuō)” is versatile and can also be used when we need to express the actions of “to shed / to take off / to get away from.”


When we are describing the UK’s exit from the EU, we can construct the sentence like this:

脱欧 (tuō ōu): to leave the EU / Brexit

“脱欧 (tuō ōu)” is an abbreviation of “脱离欧盟 (tuōlí ōuméng).”

脱离 (tuōlí)=break away, 欧盟 (ōuméng)=European Union

Yīngguó gōng tóu juédìng tuō ōu.
英国        公     投    决定    脱 欧。
The UK has voted to leave the European Union.

When not discussing politics, we can use “脱 (tuō)” in daily life by describing when we “take off” some of our clothes.

“脱掉衣服 (tuō diào yīfu) to take off (clothing)”

Tiānqì biàn rè le, wǒ juéde hái shì tuō diào wàitào hǎo le.
天气    变  热 了, 我  觉得   还 是   脱   掉    外套   好  了。
It’s getting hot outside, I think I’d better take off my coat.

We can also utilize “脱 (tuō)” to describe that a person is not single anymore. However, we don’t use this in formal situations, usually casual times.

Dānshēn zhème duō nián, tā zhōngyú tuō dān le.
单身          这么    多   年,  他      终于     脱 单  了。
After being single for many years, he finally got a girlfriend.


1. You can use “脱欧 (tuō ōu)” to describe:
A. the EU
B. the verb “leave”
C. when a country leaves the EU
D. not being single anymore

2. What does the phrase “脱单 (tuō dān)” mean?
A. to get away from something
B. not being single anymore
C. taking off some of our clothes
D. divorcing a spouse

See Answer Analysis

Further Reading:

Discuss the new president of the United States with this Chinese quiz

Get Ready for a 对决(duìjué): Trump vs. Clinton in November!

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In French, they say ‘Brexit’ although the word ‘exit’ is very different in French (sortie). How can we say the English sound ‘Brexit’ using Chinese characters?

“Brexit,” we say “脱欧” in Chinese.

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