“纠结 (jiūjié)” was first used by the animation Fansub group back in 2001. In one of the cartoons, a character shouted “纠结啊! (jiūjié a!)” Since then, the term transitioned from being popular among animation fans, to being a popular termed widely used by the masses.
The phrase “纠结 (jiūjié)” literally expresses entangled ropes or vines. It’s come to represent the various feelings that tug on our heartstrings and play with our emotions for better, or worse. We’ve all felt those inextricable knots in our stomachs when confronted with moments of confusion, hesitance, or bewilderment. In daily life, the phrase “纠结 (jiūjié)” is quite flexible in its use as a verb, adjective and noun. For instance, “纠结 (jiūjié)” can also be used when people find themselves in a dilemma that prevents them from moving forward. Also, when you find yourself indecisive when confronted with a particular choice, “纠结 (jiūjié)” can describe your state of mind. If you go on any Chinese language social network, it’s quite common to see someone change their status to “我很纠结 (wǒ hěn jiūjié)” when they have no idea how to make a decision.
Zuìjìn de gōngzuò ràng wǒ hěn jiūjié.
最近 的 工作 让 我 很 纠结。
My recent work’s got me in a tough spot lately.
Zhège diànyǐng kànqǐlái tè jiūjié.
这个 电影 看起来 特 纠结。
This movie makes everyone feel conflicted.
Zuìjìn xīnqíng bú tài hǎo, yě bù zhī gāi rúhé páiqiǎn xīnzhōng de jiūjié.
最近 心情 不 太好， 也不 知 该 如何 排遣 心中 的 纠结。
I’ve been in a really bad way lately. I don’t know how to fix this confusion in my heart.
Měi ge rén dōu huì fàncuò de, búyào zài jiūjié yú yǐqián de cuòwù le.
每 个 人 都 会 犯错 的，不要 再 纠结 于 以前 的 错误 了。
Everyone makes mistakes, but shouldn’t get caught making the same mistake twice.
Wǒ xiǎng chī dàngāo, dàn yòu hàipà zhǎng pàng, hǎo jiūjié ya!
我 想 吃 蛋 糕， 但 又 害怕 长 胖， 好 纠结 呀！
I want to eat that cake, but I’m afraid of getting fat…so many choices!