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Must-Know Five “Bad Words” in Chinese

Apr. 17, 2014
Bad words in Chinese

In Chinese, like all other languages, there are “bad words.” Of course, these are not words to be used in the presence of others. This type of language is offensive. However, it is often the case that such words are used among close friends. Is it inappropriate? Will people’s feelings get hurt when friends use bad words against them? Now, let’s begin by learning these words and the answer will become easy to find.


“神经病(shénjīngbìng)” literally means someone who is insane, or has problems with one’s nervous system. Because people consider “神经病 (shénjīngbìng)” abnormal, they use this word in a derogatory way for “someone whose actions seem odd, rude or offensive.”


A: Míngtiān wǒmen qù yóuyǒng ba?
A:明天      我们     去 游泳       吧?

A: Do you want to go swimming tomorrow?

B: Dōngtiān yóuyǒng? Nǐ shénjīngbìng a?
B:冬天       游泳?     你 神经病            啊?

B: Swimming in winter? Are you insane?

Although it’s rude to call someone “神经病(shénjīngbìng),” close friends or lovers often make jokes about each other using this word when they think their friends’ or lovers’ actions are odd. In such cases, the hearer usually won’t get mad being called this word.


John: Wǒ hěn xǐhuan nǐ, nǐ xǐhuan wǒ ma?
John:我 很    喜欢   你,你喜欢    我  吗?

John: I really like you. Do you like me?

Emily: Shénjīngbìng? Nǐ bié kāiwánxiào! Wǒmen shì péngyou.
Emily:神经病?          你别   开玩笑!      我们     是  朋友。

Emily: Are you out of your mind? Don’t be kidding! We are friends.


“二百五(èrbǎiwǔ)” literally means “two hundred and fifty,” but now we use it to refer to people who are silly, innocent and careless. Actually, this meaning of “二百五(èrbǎiwǔ)” dates back to the Warring States period, when an important political figure, Su Qin, was assassinated by his enemies. The king of Qi was very angry at Su Qin’s death and in order to catch the assassin, he told the people in the country the lie that Su Qin was a spy and therefore the people who killed him could expect to claim an award of one thousand taels of gold. Coveting the money, four liars claimed that they were the killers and it was ok for them to split the money, 250 taels per person. The king burst into anger and killed these greedy men. Although they were not the real killers, they acted as scapegoats and lost their lives. Therefore, Chinese people use “二百五(èrbǎiwǔ)” to refer to people who are silly and careless.


Bob shì yígè  èrbǎiwǔ, méiyǒu rén xǐhuan tā.
Bob 是  一个  二百五, 没有     人    喜欢   他。

Bob is a stupid person, nobody likes him.

However, sometimes, instead of sincerely trying to insult someone, “二百五(èrbǎiwǔ)” is used as a friendly way to comment on people who don’t think or do things carefully.


A: Nà shì nǐ mèimei ma? Zhēn piàoliang!
A:那是  你 妹妹     吗? 真     漂亮!

A: Is that your sister? She is really beautiful!

B: Èrbǎiwǔ, tā shì wǒ dìdi!
B:二百五,他 是 我 弟弟!

B: You silly fool, he is my brother!

Shǎguā / shǎzi
傻瓜 / 傻子

“傻(shǎ)” is an adjective, which means “stupid or silly,” and “子(zi)” means “man.” In one of the dialects of Chinese, “瓜(g)” is an adjective that means silly. Therefore, we use “傻瓜(shǎguā)” or “傻子(shǎzi)” to refer to people who are unreasonable and lack common sense. Chinese people often use “傻瓜(shǎguā)” or “傻子(shǎzi)” to make jokes about someone when he is considered silly.

In addition, “傻瓜(shǎguā)” is often used in a nice and friendly way between lovers, and when used in this way, “傻瓜(shǎguā)” is more of a term of endearment.


A: Qīnàide, wǒ hěn xǐhuan nǐ!
A:亲爱的,我 很   喜欢   你!

A: Honey, I like you so much!

B: Nǐ zhēn shì shǎguā!
B:你 真    是 傻瓜!

B: Oh, you are my little silly fool!


“白痴(báichī)” originally means “someone with mental retardation” and is now used in a sarcastic way to describe somebody who is silly.


Nǐ shì báichī ma?  Nǐ huì bu huì zuò zhè jiàn shì?
你 是  白痴    吗?   你 会  不  会  做    这  件   事?

Are you a nut? Do you know how to do this?

Like other bad words we mentioned earlier, “白痴(báichī)” can also be used as banter among friends and lovers.


(A boy texts a short message to his girlfriend.)

Báichī, wǒ xǐhuan nǐ!
白痴,  我 喜欢    你!

Little fool, I like you very much!


“笨蛋(bèndàn)” literally means “stupid egg.” If someone is called “笨蛋(bèndàn),” he will get very angry, because in some sense, “笨蛋 (bèndàn)” is equal to “白痴(báichī)” and means that someone has a very low IQ.


Zuòyè dōushì língfēn, nǐ shì bèndàn ma?
作业    都是     零分,  你 是 笨蛋       吗?

All your homework are zero scores, are you a nut?

“笨蛋(bèndàn)” is also used as a term of endearment between lovers, and when used in this way, it shows that their relationship is really close.


Bèndàn, nǐ xiǎng chīfàn ma?
笨蛋,    你 想     吃饭     吗?

My numbskull, do you want to eat?

It's worth noting that although these bad words can be used between friends, using them without discrimination may cause enmity between you and others. Therefore, use them carefully and only if your relationship is really intimate.


1. If Mike said “白痴,我爱你(Báichī, wǒ ài nǐ)” to his girlfriend, what does he mean? 

A. Mike wants to show his fondness to his girlfriend.

B. Mike thinks his girlfriend is stupid.

C. Mike wants to break up with his girlfriend.

See Answer

2. In which of the following sentences is “笨蛋(bèndàn)” not used in a derogatory way?

A. 小笨蛋,我喜欢你。(Xiǎo bèndàn, wǒ xǐhuan nǐ.)  Small simpleton, I like you.

B. 作业都是零分,你是笨蛋吗?(Zuòyè dōushì língfēn, nǐ shì bèndàn ma?) All your homework are zero scores, are you a nut?

C. 我是一个笨蛋! (Wǒ shì yígè bèndàn!) I am a numskull!

See Answer


You may be interested in more tips on Chinese conversations:

Flattering & Giving Compliments in Chinese

Chinese Popular Words

General Chinese (Beginner Level)

General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

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Thanks for the useful tips!

Very down to earth explanation

I am glad to learn usefull word from you webside !i want to learn more usefull word about Buddhism so please help me progress my language !

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