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“女汉子(Nǚhànzi)”-Describe a Girl in Mandarin

Aug. 6, 2014


The picture above shows two types of girls faced with a fierce dog. One of them is scared and hiding behind a boy while the other tames it, which demonstrates a typical image of a “女汉子 (nǚhànzi).” This has become a popular catchphrase in recent years and an increasing number of Chinese girls proudly claim themselves to be “女汉子 (nǚhànzi).” So what does this term really imply? And what kind of girl could be classified as a “女汉子 (nǚhànzi)?

“女 ()” means “female” while “汉子 (hànzi)” refers to a man. Essentially, “女汉子 (nǚhànzi)” refers to a manly woman or a tomboy; she is a woman who thinks and acts like a man and is yet more than just a butch woman. She generally hates high heels, dresses, make-up, and the color pink. She would rather spend the day playing sports, watching the big game, or exploring in nature than shopping. She spits out curses rather than shedding tears. In a word, she is nothing like the traditional image of a delicate, sweet Chinese female. As a result, it is easier for her to get buddy-buddy with boys than girls, and seldom is she able to turn her male friends into boyfriends.


Wáng Lín: Nǐ nǚ péngyou wēnróu ma?
王       林:你 女   朋友       温柔    吗?
Wang Lin: Is your girlfriend gentle?

Zhāng Wěi: Wēnróu? Tā kě shì gè “nǚhànzi”.
张        伟: 温柔?      她 可 是  个  “女汉子”!
Zhang Wei: Gentle? She is a tomboy!

Recently, a list spread across the internet which pointed out 20 features of a “女汉子 (nǚhànzi).” Girls could then check for themselves to see how many attributes they matched and to determine if they were or weren’t a real “女汉子 (nǚhànzi).” Here are a few of the attributes from the list:

· They easily become buddies with men since they are straightforward and open-minded like men.

· If unable to unscrew a tight cap off of a bottle, they’d rather keep trying instead of asking for help.

· They don’t bother to wash their face or hair if planning to stay at home for the day.

· They carry their own luggage when travelling.

· They’re perfectly fine with ordering big portions of food even when in the presence of men. 

· They hate wearing make-up and seldom take pictures of themselves. It is said that whoever can relate to 10 out of the 20 items on the list is a suspected “女汉子 (nǚhànzi).” If you meet 15 of the criteria then congratulations, you are a real “女汉子  (nǚhànzi).”


Dàbùfen nǚhànzi tǎoyàn chuān qúnzi.
大部分     女汉子   讨厌      穿     裙子。
Most tomboys hate wearing skirts.

It is also said that “女汉子 (nǚhànzi)” tend to end up being “剩女 (shèngnǚ) leftover women.” This happens because they are extremely independent women who also enjoy being single. As a result, they still remain single into their late 20s and gradually become “剩女 (shèngnǚ) leftover women”, or women who are unlikely to get married.


Wǒ shì nǚhànzi, dànshì wǒ bùxiǎng chéngwéi shèngnǚ.
我   是    女汉子,但是    我   不想       成为       剩女。
I’m a masculine woman, but I don’t want to become a leftover woman.


1. Jack describes Rose as being a “女汉子(nǚhànzi).” This is probably because Rose is___.

A. a girl who has changed her gender to male.

B. a girl who is strong, firm, decisive, and even cocky like a boy.

C. a girl who likes strong and powerful men.

2. When a “女汉子(nǚhànzi)” sees a cockroach, how will she react?

A. She will scream and run away from it.

B. She will take her shoe to swat it.

C. She will just ignore it.

See Answers

Chinese Popular Words (Fun Stuff)

General Chinese (Beginner Level)

General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

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