Does the expression “plate him!” sound strange to you?

Have you heard the expression, “

盘他(pán tā)

The expression was made popular by a TikTok video where the speaker said, “Don’t mind what he is, 盘他(pán tā). Everything can be ‘盘’, just ‘盘’”.
What does that mean?
Let’s talk about 



Now, you may have seen the word 盘(pán) before in the context of eating. For example:

一盘菜(yī pán cài)

. This literally means, “A plate of food.”
Cānzhuō shàng shàngle yī pán cài.
A plate of food was brought to the table.

In this case,

“盘” (pán)

is being used as a quantifier to mean, “plate.” A quantifier is a word used to express the unit of quantity of people, things or actions.


can also be combined with another word, “子(zi)” to make “


” – plate, the kind of plate that is generally used to serve food and eat from.


: dish/plate


tā bǎ pánzi xǐ gānjìngle.
He washed the dishes.

pánzi bèi dǎ suìle
The plate was broken.

You may be asking yourself: Why are we talking about “plating” someone

(盘他(pán tā)


This is because


can also be used as a verb to mean repeatedly rubbing an object to make the surface smooth and textured. Many ornament collectors carry their ornaments, like good luck charms or even walnut shells, with them in their hands as they go out for a walk, rubbing them and over time changing the texture. In contrast to what many people are used to in the west, this action over time is thought to actually increase certain objects’ value – at least as far as the owners are concerned.
Applying this usage to people first appeared after a 2018 “cross talk” performance, when the speaker said, “It’s so dry, numb, and not round at all … 盘它!” After that, 盘 took on some new meanings:

To express your love for someone or something, e.g.:

juéde tā piàoliàng? xǐhuān tā duì ba? pán tā!

You think she’s beautiful? You like her right? Well, show her how you feel!
To jokingly threaten or tease someone, e.g.:
nǐ shuōhuà zhùyì diǎn, xiǎoxīn wǒ pán nǐ.

Be careful about what you say, or I’ll teach you a lesson!
As you can see, being able to this word appropriately takes some practice, given all its possible meanings. Luckily for you, we’ll get you started with a quick quiz to see how closely you paid attention:
Which of these sentences is appropriate to say to a waiter when you’re ordering your food?
A. (pointing at your friend)
qǐng ng pán tā!

B. (pointing at the menu)
qǐng gěi wǒ lái yī pán ròu.

C. (pointing at your plate)
zhège pánzi yǐjiīng pán h o le ma?

D. (pointing at yourself)
wǒ kěyǐ pán něige cài?

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