Is there any difference between 哥 and 哥哥? Both are defined as “elder/older brother” in various online dictionaries.

  • 哥哥 is used when the user is young or trying to appear naive.
    – jf328
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 13:32
  • Can it be considered girlish as well? Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 14:07
  • IMO, not beyond the general feeling that an adult man when behaving naively seems girlish
    – jf328
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 14:29
  • Also, as EmmaXL commented below, its use has been extended widely. Especially under one-child policy, brother/sister will more likely to mean cousins and general friends.
    – jf328
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 14:37
  • TV dramas seem to show that 哥 is used as a form of address (when addressing a 哥哥), same with 姐
    – user6065
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 19:16

4 Answers 4


哥哥 is more likely to be used by kids. Similarly, in English, children call their parents Mummy and Daddy but when they grow up, they would call them Mum and Dad.

As an adult, you can still call your brother or male cousin 哥哥 and that is not a problem. In fact, many people use both 哥 and 哥哥. It just depends on which they feel like to use at the moment. Generally speaking, 哥 also shows that you are a little bit closer to each other.

Chinese people sometimes call their best friend 哥哥, 姐姐, 弟弟, or 妹妹; Each of them can be said only by one character, such as 哥 or 姐. Besides their cousins and siblings, people used to use them on their best friends only.

These days, 哥 and 姐 have been widely used. For example, sales people may call their potential customers 哥 or 姐。


There is no difference between them of the meaning, I feel 哥 is more formal than the other one, and 哥哥 feels closer than 哥. Generally, girls would like to call 哥哥 more than boys.

  • 2
    "哥 is more formal than the other one" Citation needed? I'm Chinese and I've never heard of this. Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 13:15
  • @DanielCheung the feeling
    – Whhhhhhhhy
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 13:16
  • "The feeling" isn't an objective reason. Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 13:17
  • @DanielCheung I admit that I haven't explained correctly, I will change.
    – Whhhhhhhhy
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 13:33
  • 4
    I think the opposite, 哥 is more casual than 哥哥。哥哥 is more likely to be used by kids. 哥 shows that you are close to that person, but it has been used a little bit too widely these days.
    – EXL
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 13:34

In Mandarin Chinese, both “哥” and “哥哥” refer to an older brother. The primary difference between the two lies in the degree of formality and affection, as well as usage context.

1.  “哥哥” is the more standard and formal term for older brother. It’s used in general conversations, especially when clarity is important or when speaking respectfully. For example, when introducing your older brother to someone else, you might use “哥哥”.
2.  “哥” is a shorter, more colloquial term. It can convey a sense of closeness or familiarity. It’s often used in casual conversation, particularly among peers or within the family when referring to one’s own older brother. However, “哥” can also be used as a respectful address for a man slightly older than the speaker, not necessarily related, indicating a friendly or brotherly respect.

The choice between “哥” and “哥哥” depends on the speaker’s relationship with the person being referred to, the context of the conversation, and the level of formality required.


The correct answers have already been given above. So, I would just like to add that other variants are also common, for instance

妈妈 and 妈 爸爸 and 爸

But don’t think literal meaning when you hear words like 大哥 (that’s used to casually call a gangleader or a boss)and 小姐(used to call young girls as Miss).

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