Get Shot While Lying Down: The Chinese Expression You Need to Know

Chinese General Lying Down

Often, the Mandarin Chinese students in my class will hear trendy slang language that they don’t understand. It’s always fun, as a Chinese teacher, to explain to the class what these new expressions mean. Often, I let the students make an educated guess before explaining the meaning fully. Today, I will introduce to you an expression that is commonly used online in forums and group chats, but also increasingly used on the streets. The expression is “躺着也中枪 (Tǎngzhe yě zhòngqiāng) Get shot even when lying down”. Can you guess what it means?

For occasions when you are the “innocent bystander” and a victim of overhearing some gossip or criticism that was not intended for you, but applies to you and may offend you anyway, you “躺着也中枪 (Tǎngzhe yě zhòngqiāng) Get shot even when lying down”. Basically, you are caught in the crossfire even though you tried to remain quiet and not get involved. You’re innocent, but still hit. How unfortunate!

“躺枪 (Tǎngqiāng)” is the shortened version of “躺着也中枪 (Tǎngzhe yě zhòngqiāng)”. “躺枪 (Tǎngqiāng)” is often used online and by young people in social situations.

We can break the expression down as:

躺着 (tǎngzhe) = lying down;

也 (yě) = also;

中枪 (zhòngqiāng) = get shot.

Examples of how you can use “躺着也中枪 (Tǎngzhe yě zhòngqiāng) Get shot even when lying down” in everyday conversation:

The scenario: On a city bus, two elderly men are talking about some recent gossip about a young local who doesn’t want to take care of his aging parents. One of the old men takes a glance at the young men around and makes the comment:

Xiànzài de niánqīngrén dōu bú tài dǒngshì’r.
现在     的    年轻人      都   不  太   懂事儿.
Nowadays, the young people are insensible.

The young man standing quietly nearby, minding his own business thinks to himself:

Āi, wǒ tǎngzhe yě zhòngqiāng!
哎, 我   躺着    也    中枪!
I get shot even when lying down!

On an Internet news site, a headline about recent events reads:

Měiguó hé cháoxiān xiānghù shìqiáng, hánguó dānxīn zìjǐ huì “tǎngqiāng”.
美国      和   朝鲜      相互       示强,     韩国    担心  自己 会   “躺枪”.
The United States and North Korea Continue to Make Threats While South Korea is Worried That They Will “Get Shot Even When Lying Down!”

New word:

示强 (shìqiáng): v. express strong.


Cōngmíng rén bú yīnggāi chùchù shìqiáng.
聪明          人  不  应该      处处      示强。
Smart People shouldn’t show they are strong in all aspects.

So, now you know some fun Chinese expression to use for when you are the innocent bystander or a victim of circumstance. Go ahead and impress your Chinese friends with “躺着也中枪 (Tǎngzhe yě zhòngqiāng)”!
HSK 3 quiz
1. In which situation can you use “躺着也中枪 (Tǎngzhe yě zhòngqiāng)”?
A. You make someone angry and they want to pick an argument with you.
B. You can’t agree on a resolution to an argument.
C. You are minding your own business and someone suddenly insults people from your country.
D. You criticize people who are behaving a certain way in an online forum.

―Written by Becky Zhang―
Becky Zhang is a teacher at She has over eight years of experience teaching Mandarin Chinese to foreign students and promoting Chinese culture. She lives in Beijing but loves traveling to ancient Chinese villages. One day she’d like to be a tour guide in China!

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