How does one translate "generic" brand. I've come across several translations: 通用牌子一般的牌子杂牌。 But none of them really demonstrate a generic brand. The first one just means common, the second one implies average, and the last one means inferior. In the United States, for example, you have a brand name product, and often a generic product branded under a store's name. Another example would be generic brand prescription drugs.

What is the proper translation?

  • 1
    iciba sample sentences offers 2 possibilities for generic drug: 非专利药,一般的药品 他们鼓励医生给患者开较便宜的非专利药,而不是价格更高的品牌药。 一般的药品通常比品牌药品便宜. 一般性药品和品牌药对治疗流感都很有效. note that in examples with 一般的药品,品牌药品 is also mentioned making the meaning clear
    – user6065
    Feb 14, 2015 at 5:27
  • I think 通用 is exactly right for generic drugs. Here "common use" does not mean "lots of people use it," but means like "common property." What are called generic drugs do carry the name of the company that made them, but it is not the company that originally patented the drug. The drug Merck sells as Prinivil is now out of patent and others can make it as generic lisinopril. Generic soup or cereal or detergent are a different case where the famous brand maker may have made the very stuff you are buying but their name is not on thepackage -- it is marketed under a store name or whatever Feb 28, 2015 at 2:19

4 Answers 4


Here's the translated definition of "generic" in Oxford Advanced Leaner's English-Chinese Dictionary (7th Edition).

1 shared by, including or typical of a whole group of things; not specific 一般的;普通的;通用的:
·‘Vine fruit’ is the generic term for currants and raisins. * vine fruit是有核和无核葡萄干的通称。

2 (of a product, especially a drug 产品,尤指药物) not using the name of the company that made it 无厂家商标的;无商标的:
·The doctor offered me a choice of a branded or a generic drug. 医生让我选择用有商标的还是没有商标的药物。

According to the second meaning, maybe "generic brand" can be translated as “无商标的品牌”, but it sounds a little weird.


I have read through the wikipedia article. although with the idea grasped, I have never found such market phenomenon in my life. So while you may after all translate this into Chinese, don't expect to make all people understand immediately. Because there may not be corresponding concept in their mind.

I used to live in Shandong, China and later moved to Hubei, China. I can say both my household knowledge and my sense of the Chinese language align with common people from northern and central China.

The best recommendation from me, is go for “一般” and always have it followed by a brief explanation.


As the comments and other answers already suggested, the concept of 'branded product' and 'generic brand', and the distinction between them, are not familiar to most Chinese people, hence there isn't yet a widely accepted term for 'generic brand'.

All the translations covered by comments and other answers are correct but each of them are more or less ambiguous upon first hearing:

  • 非专利药 may be mistaken as the drug is not patented.
  • 无商标药 may be perceived as the drug isn't certified for commercial use.
  • 一般/通用药物 may sound like the drug is for 'common use'/general purpose.

The one with least ambiguity, IMHO, is 非品牌药 which is also the most literal ('non-branded drug'). You may want to follow it with a brief explanation depending on the audience.

  1. There is an interesting translation called "學名藥" from wikipedia
  2. "學名" is refer to the chemical compound name that has no patent involved espeically focus on its "Biosimilar" property with possible patent expiration. (e.g. "acetaminophen" is the chemical name of brand "Tylenol")

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