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What It Means to Have a “玻璃心 (bōli xīn) Glass Heart”

Mar. 22, 2017

Chinese General glass heart

“Your Chinese is probably the worst in the class.” A classmate said jokingly to my close friend in a study abroad program. Although her Chinese was not the best, it definitely wasn’t the worse. Yet, she took his teasing very personally and I am pretty sure even cried about it later!

Afterwards, my Chinese roommate taught me the popular internet slang word 玻璃心 (bōli xīn). It metaphorically refers to a person whose heart is as fragile as glass and is easily hurt by what others say. This word is applied to people who are overly sensitive and very, very easily take offense by others’ words.

玻璃心 (bōli xīn): glass heart; overly sensitive, fragile; easily offended by others.

玻璃 (bōli):glass, noun.

心 (xīn):heart, noun.

Generally, this term is used online to refer to people who are easily offended by other people’s thoughtless jokes or teasing. My old roommate told me she has a friend who cares too much about other people’s criticism. If you say anything about him and he overhears, the next day he will come running asking exactly what you meant by it. Even if it is a complete joke!

Keep in mind, this is a derogatory term, so offline it is usually just used with good friends and family in a bantering tone or as a joke. Avoid using it with strangers or acquaintances as it may offend the other person and cause a misunderstanding.

Examples:
Zuò rén búyào tài bōlixīn!
做    人   不要  太  玻璃心!
You don’t want to be too sensitive of a person!

Jack yǒu kē bōlixīn!
Jack  有  颗  玻璃心!
Jack is a very vulnerable person.

Zhè gè rén fēicháng bōlixīn, jīng bù qǐ yì diǎn cuòzhé.
这   个  人   非常    玻璃心,经  不 起 一 点     挫折。
This person is extremely sensitive, he cannot bear even the smallest setback.

Nǐ tài bōlixīn le ba! wǒ zhǐ bú guò gēn nǐ kāi le yí gè wánxiào!
你 太 玻璃心了 吧!我 只 不  过    跟  你 开 了 一 个  玩笑!
You are too sensitive! I was just joking with you!

Quiz:

Which person below could be described by the word “玻璃心 (bōli xīn)?”

A.Eric always works hard to pass his exams.
B.Lily is a warm-hearted girl who regularly likes to feed stray cats.
C.Tony feel very sad and depressed when hearing his teacher’s criticism.
D.Amy failed the driver’s test many times, but she still hasn’t given up.
See Answer

Learn more fun Chinese buzzwords:
辣眼睛 (làyǎnjīng) Spicy Eyes—Hilarious Internet Slang
Screwed Over? In a “坑 (kēng)”? This Lesson May Help!
Show humility and learn “自黑 (zìhēi)” for “self-mockery”

—Written by Elizabeth Brown—
Elizabeth Brown works in China and has studied Chinese for 4 years. She has been a student at eChineseLearning for 2 years and is preparing to take the HSK 5. A special thanks to her roommate for teaching her this word and how to use it.

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