There are some Mandarin Chinese words that just don’t have an exact equivalent in English.
Because when it comes to slang, there are a lot of hidden meanings behind each and every word. And you really have to know the full meaning to be able to use it correctly in any sentence.
Whenever I introduce a new Chinese slang word to my students, I make sure to give them a thorough background of it, so they are better equipped to use it correctly in daily conversation.
In daily life, “狗血 (gǒuxiě)” is used commonly by youth. Many Mandarin Language teachers also use the word when talking about study topics such as TV dramas, internet slang, etc. with their Chinese language students.
“狗血 (gǒuxiě)” means absurd, exaggerated, ridiculous, contrived. When we breakdown the characters, we get:
狗 (gǒu): n. dog.
血 (xiě): n. blood.
It is said that the word originated in the 1990s, when the Hong Kong and Taiwanese films were popular in the television industry.
In those Hong Kong TV Series, there was a scene repeated over and over again in many of the films.
It always looked the same: A person would sprinkle the “狗血 (gǒuxiě) dog blood” to drive evil spirits away if someone was controlled by a menacing evil.
Later, people use “狗血 (gǒuxiě)” to joke about the use of the same old, repeated boring scenes or story sequences in a TV drama or film.
What are some of these “狗血 (gǒuxiě)” scenes in popular Chinese TV Dramas? I know you know them!
1. Every time when something bad/sad happens, rain is beating down heavily outside.
2. Every time someone is about to die, he/she just never has quite enough time to speak the truth/ tell those hidden secrets.
3. Every time the main character gets seemingly-mortally wounded, he doesn’t actually die. He somehow manages to survive.
What about in Western films?
4. Every time there is a helicopter in a movie, it just has to end up exploding. Just does.
5. Every time there is an explosion, the cool guys manage to look away.
It is used to describe TV drama scenes that are ridiculous, repetitive and exaggerated. It is most often used as an adj. When it comes to daily life, if we ever see hypocritical behavior, we also describe it as “狗血 (gǒuxiě).”
Zhè bù diànshìjù zhēn gǒuxiě.
这 部 电视剧 真 狗血.
This drama is ridiculous.
Zhè jiàn shìqing tài gǒuxiě.
这 件 事情 太 狗血。
This thing is too absurd.
Nǐ jīnglì guò de zuì gǒuxiě de shìqing shì shénme?
你 经历 过 的 最 狗血 的 事情 是 什么?
What is the most absurd thing you’ve ever experienced?
Jessie: Jack, jīnwǎn wǒmen yìqǐ qù kàn diànyǐng ba?
Jessie: Jack, 今晚 我们 一起 去 看 电影 吧！
Jessie: Jack, let’s go watch the movie tonight!
Jack: Wǒ bù xiǎng qù, diànyǐng lǐmiàn de jùqíng tài gǒuxiě.
Jack: 我 不 想 去， 电影 里面 的 剧情 太 狗血！
What does Jack mean? Please choose the best answer.
A. Jack wants to see the movie because the story is wonderful!
B. Jack doesn’t want to see the movie because the story is too ridiculous!
C. Jack doesn’t want to see the movie because the story is too horrible!
D. Jack wants to see the movie because the story is very romantic!
— 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. and M.A. in “Teaching Chinese as a Second Language.”