The little text I'm listening to has a poetic style. So I presume this is a poetic useage of 淘。Think it just means 'buy'. Is that right?

。。, 有很多特色的小商品店,可以淘一些特产带回家。Something like 'can fish up a few souvenirs to take home.'??

  • exactly, see iciba (needless to say, it does not exactly mean "buy", not necessarily poetic)
    – user6065
    Aug 21 '15 at 23:34
  • Your English is improving! The text says things like '看郁郁葱葱的狗尾巴草和芦苇在风中招摇‘。Sounds very poetic to me!
    – Pedroski
    Aug 21 '15 at 23:58
  • (in response to answers and comments below [not responding to preceding comment]:)"exactly" in preceding comment was supposed to refer to "fish up", and "see iciba" to: 3.动作快的人能够在1月份的打折中淘到最便宜的东西(get the best bargains)。5.美国消费者习惯淘一些便宜货(hunting out bargains).
    – user6065
    Aug 22 '15 at 13:55

It is a modern slang for 买.

淘 comes from 淘宝网 (Taobao), a very popular Chinese online shopping site, similar to eBay or Amazon. Although its name does literally mean "searching for treasure website", where 淘 means "searching", 淘 has become a verb that first meant "to buy on Taobao", "to buy online", and then to mean "buy" in general. This is similar to how "google" has become a verb meaning "to search online".

Since it's new slang, you won't find dictionaries attesting to this usage, but if you search for "淘东西" you'll find plenty of examples, such as this:


(where 55 refers to 55bbs.com, a different shopping site to Taobao)

or this:


(where 海淘 means "to buy overseas")

  • I'm one of 淘宝's best customers, always buying something and I didn't know that!
    – Pedroski
    Aug 22 '15 at 2:03
  • It just occurred to me that 淘宝 must have, forgive the pun, dredged up this name somewhere, so the phrase could have been in existence before they began their online venture.
    – Pedroski
    Aug 22 '15 at 3:42
  • 1
    I'm pretty sure the expression "淘便宜货" has existed before Taobao. Since it literally means "search for cheap goods" but has the connotation of buying things, it could also come from that.
    – Tony
    Aug 22 '15 at 7:08
  • "淘 comes from 淘宝网 (Taobao)", not true, and opposite.
    – user4072
    Aug 22 '15 at 13:45
  • “淘宝”的由来与首页
    – user4072
    Aug 22 '15 at 14:01

No it's not 买.


淘 táo


So it means (find valuable by) washing away impurities. When people say 淘东西 like in your example, it's referring to the treasure-hunting aspect rather than the activity of trade.

可以淘一些特产带回家 You can hunt for some souvenirs of your liking to take home.

  • 淘 does have the meaning 'dredge, dredge up' or 'pan' as in '淘金,pan for gold' 'fish up some souvenirs' is also slang useage, but comes closer to 淘, dredge' in my humble opinion. Thanks!
    – Pedroski
    Aug 22 '15 at 2:09

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