Many Cantonese dramas titles contains the suffix 風雲. Examples include:

  • 法外風雲 TVB
  • 酒店風雲 Korean

What does it even mean? A google translate gives:

  • Outrage Situation ( Makes sense)
  • Hotel Situation?? What does this mean?

I believe there is another meaning. If there is, what is it? Obviously, apart from wind cloud. If not, could you explain 'Hotel Situation'?


4 Answers 4


Google translate is not a dictionary, so don't be surprised if you get odd results for single words. If you give it a whole sentence, you'll have better luck. Colin McLarty has the correct meaning for 風雲 above, but I thought I would add a little more because 風雲 is one of those Chinese words that doesn't have a real English equivalent, yet has a very concrete, vivid meaning that is not hard to explain.

風雲 refers to a dramatic moment in history or life when great changes come about in a short period.

Where English uses 'hour' or 'day', Chinese will often use 風雲. An example is 'man of the hour', often translated as 風雲人物. Similarly, someone who brings about dramatic change in a situation is said to 叱吒風雲 'ride the wings of the storm' (Google translate says 'Reverbercy situation', another sign that you're looking in the wrong place).

In a title, 風雲 is similar to English words such as 'crisis', 'drama', or 'melodrama': 'Manhattan Melodrama', 'Shanghai Drama', etc. In fact, ANY movie or television show that we might label a 'drama' can have 風雲 added at the end, just to make sure people know what kind of work it is

This is VERY common: in addition to the examples Hello Harry gives below, Chinese Wikipedia lists movie examples such as Spartacus (風雲羣英會), Casino (賭國風雲), and Wag the Dog (桃色風雲搖擺狗), TV examples such as Peyton Place 小城風雲 (an older translation), Six Feet Under (六呎風雲), and Jailbreak (監獄風雲), and don't forget the board game Risk (戰國風雲), as well as a zillion computer/console games.

Besides its use in titles to indicate a drama, 風雲 is often used proverbially. Sudden change presents opportunity so that a man of talent who seizes the moment is said to encounter 風雲際會, (風雲際會十年間,樊作諸侯劉作帝 Dramatic change in ten years time, Fan becomes prince , Liu the Emperor).

On the other hand, the idea of a storm is also present (as when the wind blows clouds across the sky) giving expressions such as 天有不測風雲, where English might say 'a reversal of fortune'

In general then, searching for a single unchanging English equivalent for vivid, dynamic Chinese words can often lead to odd or frustrating results; better to try and figure out the internal logic of the Chinese.

  • professional explanations, it refers to dramatic/focused/important changes in a short period, just like winds & clouds changed before rainstorm. May 5, 2017 at 10:04

See http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/風雲 . Just as 山水 (shān shuǐ) literally means mountain-water and in fact means a landscape painting, wind-cloud is a figurative term for storm.

In these tv shows it means a stormy dramatic situation.

The actual hotel http://www.sunsweet.com.tw/room04.html uses "mountain-water-hotel" to mean a hotel as beautiful and restful as as a classical landscape. So 酒店風雲 means the show is about dramatic situations in a hotel. More fun to watch on tv than to stay at!

  • some other words with similar rule: 天地, 山水/山河, 五湖四海/五洲四海, 古今, 左右, etc.
    – xenophōn
    Nov 6, 2019 at 5:28

You will notice this pattern in a lot of titles translated in Hong Kong/Taiwan. The same movie translated in mainland China will have the 風雲 removed.

  • 賭城風雲 (From Vegas to Macau)
  • 無間道風雲 (The Departed)

風雲 can be translated to 局势 (situation)

But in the case of movie titles, it is simply a fancy way of saying The story of .... However emphasis on the mystery, the grandiose, and the ups and downs of the story.


Existing answers are well written. I deem that you may render it "romance" (=legend) or even simply "story".

  • 1
    Does this add to any other answers?
    – Xetrov
    May 1, 2017 at 9:03

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