Don’t Be Stuck Up! Be Down to Earth!

Chinese General earth

Have you ever met someone and been very impressed by how down to earth they are? In Chinese we have a phrase which is an equivalent to this idea in English and it is “接地气 (jiē dìqì)”. Native Chinese speakers often use it in daily life, when referring to a person or even more often, a celebrity.


接地气 (jiē dìqì)

“接地气 (jiē dìqì)” originated from a Northern dialect in China, and was often used amongst rural residents in Northern China. Now, with the onset of social networking, it is a phrase that is widely used on all levels of society.
Let’s break this phrase down so you can understand its meaning fully:
接 (jiē): to connect; to receive;

地气 (dìqì): ground vapour. The character “地 (dì)” also refers to the people on the lowest rung’s of society.

When you combine these characters you get a fresh meaning:
接地气 (jiēdìqì): down-to-earth (practical or direct in a sensible, honest way); practical and realistic, common touch. It means to be one with the majority, to reflect the desires of those at the bottom, and to adhere to the laws of nature. People like to use this phrase to describe the government officials and celebrities who are very affable, close and friendly (to the public).
Have you noticed any celebrities who seem particularly “接地气 (jiēdìqì)” to you? Lately we have seen a lot of the Obamas. Instead of living a life of celebrity, they seem to be making a life that is much more down-to-earth. This comes as no surprise. Many people predicted that “After Obama retires, he and his wife’s life will be very “接地气 (jiēdìqì).” They have proven this to be very true with their common and realistic way of living. For example, they often go out to buy some necessities of life. Just a few days ago, Obama and his wife buying a few common items that you probably buy during the fall, too–pumpkins!

Here are a few examples of how you can use this word in a sentence:

Zhōngguó xūyào gèngduō xiàng Tú Yōyō yí yàng jiēdìqì de yánjiūyuán.
中国          需要    更多       像     屠 哟哟  一 样  接地气 的   研究员。
China needs more down-to-earth researchers like Tu Youyou.

Féng Xiǎogāng shì yí wèi zhùmíng de diànyǐng dǎoyǎn, tā pāi de zuòpǐn dōu hěn jiēdìqì.
冯     小刚        是 一 位    著名     的   电影      导演,  他 拍  的  作品    都   很   接地气。
Xiaogang Feng is a famous film director whose works reflect the desires of people at the bottom of society.

Xiànzài de diànshì jiémù dōu hěn jiēdìqì。
现在     的  电视    节目   都  很   接地气。
Nowadays, the television programs are very practical and realistic.

HSK 3 quiz

1. Which of the following people can NOT be described as “接地气 (jiēdìqì)”?
A. Xi Jinping is a nice president because he often visits people here and there during Festivals.
B. Jin Hong is working in a ground vapour company.
C. Lu Xun wrote many realistic novels about people’s daily life.
D. People often see super star Nichkhun eating street food in China

— Written by Jennifer Zhu —

Jennifer Zhu is a professional Chinese teacher from eChineseLearning. She has many years of Chinese language teaching experience and received her B.A. andM.A. in “Teaching Chinese as a Second Language.”
Chinese Popular Words (Fun Stuff)
General Chinese (Beginner Level)
General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

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