maternity matron

Chinese women traditionally are confined indoors for a month after delivering a baby on the grounds that they are particularly susceptible to various gynecological diseases in this period. During the maternity month, maids, usually married women already having their own kids, are hired to take care of the newborn and the mother.

out-of-court settlement

Parties sometimes tend to settle disputes among themselves without going to the court or authorities to save trouble or to avoid bad publicity. Drivers in Shanghai are now required to settle disputes over minor accidents by themselves instead of calling for police to help in order to speed up traffic flow.

emergency stand-in

When an actor is not available for a performance that cannot be rescheduled, another may offer or be invited to stand in. In daily life, a person can rush to the help of another one who is unexpectedly unavailable for a job by acting as a substitute.

left on the shelf

It refers to those highly-educated and well-paid successful career women who, for whatever reasons, have not found their Mr Right at an age traditionally believed way past the best getting-married years. The Chinese term translates literally “leftover girls.”

free huggers

Some people offer free hugs for strangers in streets of big Chinese cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing. They hold signs saying “Care from strangers” and “No to cold shoulders” in Chinese and the words of “Free hugs” in English. The huggers say “free hugs will bring people closer.”

secluded clan

Compared with the group of NEET — Not in Employment, Education or Training—these people go further. The secluded clan refers to some young people who do not work, live off their parents and stay at home all the time to avoid any social life or contact with other people.


The Chinese term literally means “lack of calcium.” Calcium is an important element in one’s body, so if you say someone’s suffering from lack of calcium, you are actually calling him stupid.

stay under the radar, keep a low profile

The Chinese phrase literally means low tone. However, it often refers to some people’s desire to keep a low profile or to stay under the radar. Some tycoons, who are listed in the 2006 Forbes 400 richest on the mainland, said they will keep a low profile as usual to avoid attracting public attention.

换客(huan ke)
barter clan

Some young Chinese netizens love to trade their belongings by posting
information on the Internet, but few have been successful, either because those who post an offer live too far away for a face-toface exchange of goods or those who post a matching offer never show up for the trade.

换软档(huan ruan dang)_
relent, soften

The Chinese colloquial expression is commonly used to describe someone yielding to influence or pressure, particularly, after he’s been hit in a soft spot.

软脚蟹(ruan jiao xie)
spineless, namby-pamby

Soft-legged crab, as this term literally translates, is no good because it’s premature and yields little meat. It is often used to describe a person deemed a weakling.

拉郎配(la lang pei)
forced match

The expression originally refers to usually ill-matched marriages arranged by matchmakers or parents in ancient China. These days, people use it to describe a forced match or combination of different groups of people or entities, such as some government or chestrated mergers of companies and banks.

上镜(shang jing)

If you always look your best on a picture, it is a case Chinese people call “shangjing,” which literally translates as “on lens.”

酷抠族(ku kou zu)
cool miser

It is reported that some rich people in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, have followed a fad of living a simple and frugal life, although they can afford a more costly lifestyle, to save money and other resources.

印客(yin ke)

It is a form of business which can make anyone an “author.” People can gather their personal articles and consign the “inker”company to turn them into a book, with pictures they select and pages they design. Such books are not for sale, but to keep as a memento.

江湖义气(jiang hu yi qi)
communalism, brotherly loyalty

Jianghu, the first two characters in this term, means literally “rivers and lakes.” But it often refers to a world beyond the establishment, a world of the outlaws or just the big wide world where vagrants with skills or ambitions or both seek fortune and fame. Credit and loyalty are deemed as the two pillars of the non-mainstream society.
走穴(zou xue)

This term refers specially to actors, actresses or singers and doctors, lecturers or engineers who use their own time to work in something that is not arranged by their employers or take a second or third job for additional income.

秋乏 (qiu fa)
autumn fatigue

It refers to the phenomenon that many people feel fatigued though not ill at the beginning of the autumn season. Some recent traffic accidents were attributed to this phenomenon.

一刀切 (yi dao qie)
across-the-board ruling

It refers to a rule or decision made by a government or a company that allows no exception when being enforced in order to achieve good effectiveness or to avoid unfairness.

拆烂污 (chai lan wu)
mess up knowingly

The phrase originally means to suffer diarrhea in Shanghai dialect. Later it has come to mean an intentional act of muddling along and then looking on without offering a helping hand when problems arise.

抓狂 (zhua kuang)
going crazy

Young people these days often use this term to describe a person who is behaving insanely because he is so mad at something or he has lost control of a grim situation.

素婚 (su hun)
frugal wedding

Instead of traditional lavish wedding extravaganza, some young couples nowadays choose to take plain ways to mark their marriage. They usually participate in a simple group wedding ceremony or just take a honeymoon trip somewhere, skipping all the big banquets and exhausting, costly ceremonies.

本本族 (ben ben zu)
carless drivers

This term refers to those who have driving licenses but seldom have opportunities to practise their skills because they don’t have their own cars. They are also called “road killer” as their lack of experience can easily cause traffic accidents.

裸替 (luo ti)
nude stand-in

Nude stand-in refers to people who substitute big stars in movies for nudity shots. A nude stand-in for movie star Zhang Ziyi in “The Banquet” recently popped up in the spotlight of the media by telling her own stories and career.

节日综合症 (jie ri zong he zheng)
post-holiday blues

After a long holiday, many people tend to feel fatigued, listless, absent-minded, and out of step with the fast rhythm of the workplaces. It usually takes a couple of days for people to readjust before they are back to the normal workday pace.

屎坑贼 (shi keng zei)
toilet thief

Police in Foshan, Guangdong Province, recently detected 20 robbery cases that all happened in public toilets. This term is a moniker of criminals who rob or steal valuables from people using toilets.








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