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Are You Super Cute, Even in Chinese?

Sep. 29, 2018

HSK 3 quiz

Just like with English, Mandarin has evolved a lot since the use of the internet. We have a lot of slang words whose meanings started as something and ended up as something entirely different because of the way it’s used in messaging and online. One of my favorite words like this is “卖萌 (màiméng).”

Let’s break this word down so you can understand it better:

卖 (Mài): sell; betray; show off.

(How to Use “卖” in Chinese?)

萌 (Méng): bud, sprout; an image that makes people feel happy.

(Do You Know What the Meaning of the Popular Word “萌 (méng)” in Chinese?)

So originally the use of “卖萌 (màiméng)” was the extended vocabulary of the ACGN word “萌 (méng),” which means to deliberately show your own likability. It describes someone who obviously really wants people to like them and will even display false behavior to get people to do that.

With the use of online slang, this word later extended its meaning to include deliberately being cute and impressing others.

The funny thing about this word? Part of it isn’t even Chinese! “萌 (méng)” actually originated from Japanese. It was first used in animation works, and some anime fans imitated it.

When you get all of this vocabulary evolution you come out with the word.

卖萌 (Màiméng): play cute; being cute; act cute; play innocent.

There’re even another few meanings this word has:

1. The character “萌 (méng)” is divided into “艹grass head ” and “日 ()“ and “月 (yuè).” Now the moon and sun here are yin and yang, and the yin and yang represent women and men. The meaning is indicative of a couple falling in love with each other on the grass.
(How to Say “Fall in Love at First Sight” in Chinese?)

2. “萌 (Méng)” means that when the reader sees the role of a beautiful girl, his mind is stimulated. This has become a popular network term in the ACG community.

3. Fanaticism; Appreciate.

Examples:

Lǐ méi zài màiméng.
李梅在卖萌。
Li mei is being cute.

Tā zài wǒ miànqián màiméng, yīnwèi tā xiǎng ràng wǒ bāng tā.
她在我面前卖萌,因为她想让我帮她。
She gives me those puppy-dog eyes because she wants my help.

HSK 3 quiz

1. Among the following, which kind of behavior is not described by “卖萌 (màiméng)?”

A. Use more emoji in chat.
B. Wear a rabbit-shaped crown.
C. Change the water dispenser bucket.

See Answer Analysis

More Chinese Slang Words You Need to Know:
Get Shot While Lying Down: The Chinese Expression You Need to Know
You Should Have Never Trusted Him: Learn The Meaning of “栽跟头 (Zāi gēntou)”
Have You Watched Any “狗血 Dog Blood” Movies Lately?

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