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Absolutely the best first question I've ever asked on any site, ever.

I've considered:

  • 吃豆腐 (but I don't think this is limited to physical actions)
  • 偷偷亂摸
  • 猴子偷桃 (but I think this is too specific?)

Is there a colloquial phrase or saying that approaches the English meaning and feel?

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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I would like to use 动手动脚 for 'cop a feel', or 'paw someone'.

他一接近女人就忍不住动手动脚. He can't be near a woman without pawing her.

揩油 and 吃豆腐 are also good options for 'cop a feel'.

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I forgot about 动手动脚, nice one. I would actually say that is more descriptive towards physical touch than is 吃豆腐. –  Growler Oct 17 '13 at 20:35
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whoa! I always thought this was way more innocent, haha...Google Image search tells me that it is definitely not :P –  Blakomen Oct 18 '13 at 16:46
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吃豆腐 (Chī dòufu): You're right, "Eating someone's tofu" can be physical actions (copping a feel) or biting someone's style. But I think this is as close to what you're looking for in English.

These also work:

Description: 调情时抚摸 (Tiáoqíng shí fǔmō) Touching someone while flirting


耍流氓 (Shuǎ liú máng): Hoodlum. Or what someone may call someone who copped a feel (not so much the act of copping a feel).

咸猪手 (Xián zhūshǒu): Someone dirty who gropes at people, tries to "cop a feel". (lit: Salty Pig Hand). Ex: 请你的咸猪手跟我的朋友保持距离 (Qǐng nǐ de xián zhūshǒu gēn wǒ de péngyǒu bǎochí jùlí) Please keep your salty pig hands away from my friend

动手动脚 (Dòngshǒu dòng jiǎo): be "handsy" with someone (lit: move hands move feet)

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I would mention 耍流氓 instead of just 流氓. 流氓 can refer to all kinds of immoral behaviors (e.g. in 流氓无赖), while 耍流氓 has a strong implication on sexual harassment. –  NS.X. Oct 17 '13 at 20:42
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