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'niu bi' (牛逼? like the bees knees in English) is one of the more amusing expressions I learnt in my time in China. The literal meaning in English is quite colourful, so I won't describe it here, but I'm curious to know more about this term.

What is the correct way to write this word, and how did it originally get it's meaning in Chinese?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

niu bi = f**king awesome in English. And niu in slang means awesome.

The usage is pretty same as in English.

For example:

A:我能一连吃10个汉堡.
   I can eat 10 burgers in a row.
B:牛啊!
   Awesome!

A: 你好牛,这么难得题目你也会做!
   You are so awesome. You can even do such difficult questions!
B: 谢谢。
   Thanks.

Additionally, regarding to 牛X or 牛叉. It is common in online forums/tweets/blogs, but it is rare in conversations. Reason is same as people write LOL online very often but seldom say L-O-L in conversations.

If you want to be polite, say instead of 牛X or 牛叉

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Hi @Rannnn, welcome to the site. Can you confirm "the situation is formal you should say niu" do you mean if the situation is informal you should just say niu? It would be great if you could add an example sentence in Chinese to your answer of just using niu. –  xiaohouzi79 Jan 20 '12 at 3:41
    
@xiaohouzi79 Sorry for the misleading. I mean the situation when you say niu is slight more formal than niu bi, because bi is consider as a coarse word. –  Rannnn Jan 20 '12 at 6:46
    
@xiaohouzi79 examples added. –  Rannnn Jan 20 '12 at 7:39
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I am Chinese, "牛逼" means a person who did something great like achieving a goal or did their homework faster than others etc.

Originally, we used "牛叉 niú chā" instead of "牛逼", because the former one is more polite.

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As a matter of fact neither one is polite. –  fefe Jan 18 '12 at 2:28
    
but in fact, facing a girl, if you have to say this, you will think that "niu x" is better than "biu bi" –  scy251147 Jan 18 '12 at 2:39
    
I agree. But I still think neither of them is polite, though the "x" version is the more polite (or maybe it should be less impolite) in the two impolite phrases. –  fefe Jan 18 '12 at 2:51
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In front of a girl it's fine to just say 牛! –  Bathrobe Jan 18 '12 at 2:58
    
I have never head 'niu cha' before - what does that mean? How do you write it? Thanks for your answer –  Ciaocibai Jan 18 '12 at 2:58
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It's 牛屄. the meaning of 屄 is very easy to guess by its radicals, 尸 means body, 穴 means hole. you might not be able to find the char 屄 in some chinese dictionaries, it's considered as a vulgar word.

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This is the origin, but when we write or type the phrase, we usually use 牛逼 instead. Rannnn's answer is also correct. 牛 often refers to good/awesome things, and 逼 is used to make the statement much stronger. –  coolcfan Jan 19 '12 at 8:47
    
LOL to both q&a –  Laguna Jan 19 '12 at 18:07
    
but... which hole? –  prusswan Jan 25 '12 at 20:13
    
@prusswan, the vagina. –  ziyuang Jan 28 '12 at 3:11
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牛逼 牛X 牛叉 吊爆 all means "Freaking Awesome" These can ONLY used in colloquial speech

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Hello regou, and welcome to CL&U. Would you please expand more on your answer? Also, please avoid unusual formatting. :) Thanks for understanding. –  Alenanno Jan 27 '12 at 17:16
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To supplement, there are several slang words that have "屄/逼".

牛逼: The one has been fully explained.

傻逼: A stupid guy (especially when he has done something very stupid) (这个傻逼把彩票扔了!)

装逼: A verb means improperly showing himself in a higher level (for examples, of knowledge or cultivation) than others. A post on the internet refers it to "campy". Think that you and your other friends are playing happily in a party, but he takes out a book written by Hegel and starts to read in the corner. Or you and your friend are talking about a comedic soup opera with a background in Roman times but he breaks in and says that he won't watch it because the opera is not in Latin at all, let alone the numerous details that fail to reflect the actual history. Some also thinks that adding too many English words/phases in a Chinese sentence is 装逼 (like "不多写点application的话,这个project的funding就拿不下来."). 装逼 can be separated in a sentence (like "你装什么逼呢!").

二逼: A idiotic guy, subtly different from 傻逼. An 二逼 behaves improperly or sillily. Also, 二 can be a adjective with the same meaning in 二逼. (你看你,二了吧!)

Note that 二叉 is never used (except that you are talking about 二叉树 LOL).

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