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Chinese Popular Word: 土豪 (Tǔ háo) Rich but Vulgar!

Dec. 4, 2013

Recently, the word “土豪(tǔháo)” has become wildly popular in China. Since September this year, there have been more than 100 million references to the word “土豪(tǔháo)” on social media sites.

Literally, “土()” means earth and “豪(háo)” means rich. So it seems that “土豪(tǔháo)” means rich earth. But Internet users in China define “土豪(tǔháo)” as “uncivilized splendor.”

The word “土豪(tǔháo)” dates back to ancient Chinese society. It referred to “the rich and powerful local tyrants as they were called or the bully in the countryside.”


Nàgè lǎorén yǐ qián shì yíge tǔháo.
那个  老人    以 前   是  一个 土豪。

That old man was a local tyrant.

However, with the development of society the historical meaning of “土豪(tǔháo)” has disappeared and a new usage has emerged.

The new meaning of “土豪(tǔháo)” first began as a joke that spread on the Internet. The joke goes as follows: a young man asked a Buddhist monk: “Master, I am very rich now, but I am not happy. Can you give me some advice?” The Buddhist monk asked: “What is wealth?” The youth replied: “I have an eight figure bank account and own three apartments in Wudaokou (Wudaokou is a commercial center in the Haidian District of Beijing, known for its luxury apartments and famous companies).” The Buddhist monk said nothing, only held out his hand. The young man expected to be told to live a more simple life. But the monk replied instead with the phrase: “'土豪(tǔháo)', let's be friends!” (check what kind of friendship you own.)

Nowadays, the word “土豪(tǔháo)” is a kind of pejorative expression. To call someone “土豪(tǔháo)” is to imply they come from a poor peasant background and have made themselves rich quickly, but don't quite have the manners or sophistication to go along with their money. It is also used to ridicule people whose thinking and cultural attitudes are not very sophisticated, but these people are very rich and like to show off their wealth.


Zhè liànɡ chē de zhǔrén shì ge tǔháo  ba?
这    辆     车   的  主人    是  个  土豪   吧?

Is the owner of the car a tuhao?

Tǔháo, wǒmen zuò péngyou ba!
土豪,  我们     做  朋友         吧!

Tuhao, let’s be friends!

But in this case, its popularity seems to be down to the fact that it encapsulates China's changing society. Many people sneer at the rich, but they are secretly jealous of them. These new rich live a happy life, flooding themselves with luxury and comfort. And such deeds are easy to arouse a kind of self-deprecating social expression from the common people. The common people feel that, in this cruel social reality, they are helpless and have no choice but to accept the social status they have been given.

In September, Apple released the new gold- colored iPhone, which was very popular and admired by the new rich. Now the phone is called “土豪金(tǔháo jīn), the tyrants gold,” which demonstrates the big influence of “土豪(tǔháo).” It is said that if the influence of the word “土豪 (tǔháo)” continues to grow then it is likely to appear in the Oxford English Dictionary.


1. What’s the meaning of “土豪(tǔháo)” today?

A. the local tyrant

B. the rich earth

C. the rich man with low cultural sophistication

2. Which of the following words does not represent the emotion of the common people when referring to “土豪(tǔháo)?”

A. secretly jealous

B. respectful

C. sneering

See answer

Related Post:

More Popular Words

大款 (dàkuǎn) Rich Guy

高富帅 (gāo fù shuài) Tall, Rich and Handsome Guy

Chinese Popular Words (Fun Stuff)

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