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We're having trouble figuring out the preferred Simplified Chinese translation for "log out" or "sign out" for a web application we're translating.

Our third-party translator thinks it's 注销, and an American informant in China who knows the language and the industry well agrees. On the other hand, we have internal Chinese staff who think it ought to be 登出. To complicate things, it appears that Google uses 退出 for its SC site.

Is this a matter of preference, or is one of these better, or are there nuances of meaning?

  • How do you say "信箱" in English? I'd say it's "mailbox", but there are some people across the pond would say it's definitely "letterbox". Here's a fun one: ask these people how to translate "cream" into Mandarin. You'll probably get a unique answer per person. – DaoWen Nov 20 '14 at 4:17
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Baidu user account with Log out in green color (bottom of drop down list)

退出 almost everywhere (website, smartphone application, etc.)

[apparently the img caption isn't displaying, Baidu uses 退出, as an example]

EDIT: 登出 also means logout, but it is less common (1.7 million) compared to 退出 (124 million results at Google)

注销 is related to money transfers and means 'write off' or 'cancel'.

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    注销 is not necessary for money, although it is often used in finance. 注销 is just the opposite of 注册, for example you need a card, so you register the card, i.e. 注册XX证, and then you do not need it one day, and you unregister the card, i.e. 注销XX证. – Victor Nov 19 '14 at 16:56
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The term 注销 appeared before the existence of computers, which is the antonym of 注册 (register). As a result, 注销 means "unregister", i.e. cancel the account. This term is usually used in banks, such as 注销银行账号 (unregister the bank account).

However, after computers became popular, Microsoft uses 注销 as the official translation of "log off" in its Windows operating system. This usage is absolutely wrong, but this usage is well-known because of the popularity of Microsoft Windows, and becomes gradually accepted by native Chinese speakers, and therefore many people use this "wrong" term.

The term 退出 also appeared before the existence of computers, which means "exit" or "quit".

The term 登出 appeared after the popularity of computers, which is an modern made-up term intentionally for the Chinese translation of "log out", because etymologically, 登出 is the antonym of 登入 (log in), although the "more correct" Chinese term for "log in" should be 登录.

In a word, the correct term of "log out" should be 退出 or 登出, which is often used in Google and Baidu. 退出 is used more often.

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The word 注销 is not a suitable translation, it is well-known only because it was firstly introduced in Microsoft Windows Operation System. The two phrases, to log in and to log out, was translated to 登入 and 登出 in Traditional Chinese version of Windows, but 登录 and 注销 in Simplified Chinese version of Windows. The meaning of the Chinese word 注销 means to cancel or close (an account, for example) actually. Nowadays many websites are no longer using the word 注销, they use 退出 (means to exit or quit) or 登出 instead, but unfortunately it is still the same in Windows.

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You'd better use 退出 because it is the popular term used in mainland China where the simplified Chinese is used.

登出 and 退出 have the same meaning to Chinese but the previous one is preferred by Chinese who speak Cantonese like the people in Hong Kong or Taiwan.

注销 is mostly used to un-register an account on a website.

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    People in Taiwan do not speak Cantonese. They speak Minnan language (闽南语) – Victor Nov 20 '14 at 3:01
  • yes, you are right. – Evan Nov 21 '14 at 8:10

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