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I speak Mandarin Chinese, but it is the first time that I stumbled upon the word 鸡贼. According to 百度百科 (Baidu wiki), it means being stingy. The wiki page also says that it comes from the Beijing dialect. Can anyone tell me what the origin of this word is?

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This might have something to do with 一毛不拔, but I am not 100% sure. Never heard of the term either. – deutschZuid Mar 5 '13 at 2:49

4 Answers 4

This word is obviously from a half-fictional character with the nickname of “Zhou Bapi” 周扒皮 which was well known during the 1950s and 60s.

“Zhou Chunfu 周春富, who owned over 200 hectares of farmland in Dalian, was also identified as a landlord. His story became widely known after the soldier-writer Gao Yubao's semi-fictitious autobiography depicted Zhou as a landlord who allegedly mimicked a crowing rooster to get his hired laborers to work early. ”

In that fiction, Zhou was then mistaken as a chicken thief and shot by a Japanese soldier. The fiction grew so popular in the 1950s and 60s that this word became a phrase in some areas. But although this novel was believed to be semi-autobiographic, in recent years researchers found this novel was far from reality and was a product for the purpose of political propaganda.

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Could you explain how the word is derived from “Zhou Bapi”? – user238264 Dec 14 '13 at 8:52
zhou bapi is an extremely stingy, and he was then mistaken as a chicken thief and shot by a Japanese soldier in the end dramatically.Since everyone knows the novel,everyone knows "chicken thief" refers to "zhou bapi"=stingy man.Eventually,"chicken thief" refers to being stingy. – hillleigh Dec 14 '13 at 11:41

Canny and selfish.


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According to this page: 鸡贼 stems from a popular online article that coined the term. Specifically, this article:

For posterity, baike claims that the origin of the term is:



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Occasionally, we see the links go away for some reasons. I like the explanation provided by the first link. How about copy the first section of that first link in case it disappears. – scaaahu Dec 10 '13 at 4:28
added it, but in the future feel free to edit my post yourself if you see room for improvement – user238264 Dec 10 '13 at 4:51
Your linked articles and excerpt do not explain where 鸡贼男 comes from; the only specific mention is that it comes from Beijing dialect. That's no more informative than the question. – congusbongus Dec 10 '13 at 5:15
Well, it claims that 该新词来源于网络热贴 and later, saying virtually the same thing, 鸡贼男来源于网络热帖, but I cannot verify that assertion; I can only pass it on. – user238264 Dec 10 '13 at 5:21
The linked article has clearly stated “这不免让人想起一个北京地方词汇——鸡贼。” As far as I can attest (I am from Beijing), the word has been there for at least 25 years. It can't be originated from the internet. – NS.X. Dec 14 '13 at 11:02

This means a kind of ability of saving money or get more or cost little than others. For example, you buy a coco-cola, the waiter will add some ice to the cup. Ice is cheaper than coco-cola. If you ask the waiter not add ice at all, then you cost the same amount of money as other people but buy more valuable thing. This kind of action could be said 鸡贼。

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The question is the origin, not the meaning. – NS.X. Mar 8 '13 at 7:54
Welcome to CL&U, don't worry you'll get the hang of it :) – jsj Mar 8 '13 at 16:37
I tried this in Japan last week & they just gave me less of the drink, plus it was lukewarm! – aelephant Apr 8 '13 at 14:18
So it means "cheapskate"? – Jens Jensen Apr 15 '13 at 12:13

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