I have this text:

购物时,售货员的态度很可能会影响人们的情绪,碰到态度差的售货员,你可以不买,再去别的商店看看。 如果非要在那儿买,可能花钱买气受。

What does "花钱买气受“ mean please?

  • note web discussion of this expression (6 hits),e.g. 几乎每个消费者都有过“花钱买气受”的经历
    – user6065
    Aug 20, 2016 at 21:43

7 Answers 7


花錢 - spending money

買 - to buy

氣受 - reverse of 受氣 - to be ill-treated

together, 花錢買氣受 is roughly "spending money to buy ill-treating"

have fun :)

  • 你是说是一种‘双关语‘?受气没相当气受。
    – Gangosa
    Aug 20, 2016 at 10:54
  • hardly 双关语(s. e.g. bkrs: 1) pun 2) double entendre)re: fronting object,cf。"外国人实用汉语语法"前置宾语。为了强调、对比,或使句子简洁起来,有时宾语也可以放在动词谓语或主语前边,wide range of meanings for 买:(8) 招惹, 引起 [provoke; incur],离合词:买单、买好、买通、买帐,"买气受"might be compared to 兼语句 pivotal sentences (except that 气 is object not subject for verb 受), there may be additional reasons arguing against use of 花钱买受气 besides 花钱买气受having become fashionable
    – user6065
    Aug 20, 2016 at 23:42

By the way, it implies not to receive service deserved for such an amount of money.


花: to spend.

钱: money.

买:to buy.

气: anguish, sever mental pain, humiliation, embarrassment.

I can't find a reliable source to explain the origin of this use. 气 literally means vapour or air. Anguish is often accompanied with shortness of breath, which has something to do with air - imagine the feeling when someone's chest is pumped with air like an over-inflated balloon. It seems that associating anger with inflated chest is rather universal; I remember an American cartoon depicted an angry bird like an inflated balloon. There is a Chinese legend 三气周瑜 which means "the three galls (irritations) of Zhouyu"; by the end of the last bout of irritation, Zhouyu died of anguish; google translate says "three gas Zhouyu."

受: to endure, to bear, to suffer.(the polar opposite of enjoy).

Literally means "to spend money to buy anguish to bear."

In that context it means this: what you are actually going to buy is a product plus a huge insult; the benefit of the product is so tiny in comparison with the damage that'll be done by the insult to your mental health, you are actually just buying anguish to endure.

In The Soup Nazi, Seinfeld and Newman think the soup is worth the ordeal.


You feeling unsatisfied and frustrated when you have something not worth the money you spent, normally it used to describe a bad service


Pay money for unpleasant things.


花钱买气受 ≈ 花钱买气 to 受 ≈ 花钱 to 受气 ≈ 花钱受气

受 ≈ to bear with

generally, you 花钱 to buy something to serve your needs or to please yourself, but "气" in this case means anger/unpleasantness, which is told in the previous context 态度差的售货员(a poor attitude seller), no one will want to spend money for it, right :)

气受 is a bit like the old Chinese grammar, which ofter put the object before the verb, I would say that it's written in this "reversed" way to emphasize the object, in today's grammar, you can say:

我不是来花钱受气的。 I'm not come with my money for a poor service.


spend money purchase with the unpleasant felling 花 钱 买 气 受

it's an idiom expressing, when you could have just be happy about purchasing item, but if you came across the toxic or unprofessional attitude seller/cashier, you may have to bear the unpleasant experience even you're purchasing with your own resources, and they treat you like as if you're going to their home to take their item. so it's ironic idiom in Chinese, that even you spend money to purchase, cashier made you have to bare with anger and unpleasant feeling.

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