Here is a comment by my friend, when I post it on my WeChat moment:

I: 乌克兰有太多绝代美女,你来吧!

My friend: 什么叫绝代美女?

However, I don't understand what this means. Having google up a little, it seems 什么叫 has a sort of idioms, but I don't get what it means.

The literal translation is "What calls 绝代美女?" but it doesn't make sense. I copied and pasted 绝代美女 from my dictionary so I'm sure it is a valid Chinese word.

So what does 什么叫 mean and what does the entire sentence mean?

Note: I'm male and my friend is female. We are both 20s, if that is relevant.

3 Answers 3


Think of the term 絕世高手 (Master out of this world/ extraordinary master); 绝代美女 would mean (Beauty out of this generation). Which means you may only see beauty like this once in a generation. It is an exaggerated adjectival phrase, a more realistic version of this phrase would be 'top class' or 'extraordinary'

Exaggerated adjectival phrase is very common in Chinese, for example, 惊天 (shock heaven) is an exaggerated phrase for "shocking"; 万能 (ten thousand usage) is an exaggerated phrase for "multi-functions"

"太多绝代美女" means "there are so many extraordinary beauties "

As for your question, depend on the context, "什么叫" can mean "what calls" (with "what" as the subject) or " what is called" (with what as the object)

In this context : "什么叫绝代美女?", she is asking "what is called extraordinary beauties?"

The difference:

  • "什么叫绝代美女?" (what is called extraordinary beauties?) is asking what qualified someone as an extraordinary beauty (asking for your opinion, implies some doubt)

  • "什么是绝代美女?" (what is extraordinary beauties?) is asking what is the definition of extraordinary beauties (asking for a definite definition)

Since you claimed Ukraine have many 绝代美女, she was asking you to make clarification on this statement.

She knew what the term '绝代美女' means-- "an extraordinary beautiful woman; a rare beauty"


When you say “我叫Blaszard” to introduce yourself, you don’t mean to say “I call Blaszard,” but “I am Blaszard” or “I’m called Blaszard.”

The same goes for “什么叫绝代美女?”: “What is 绝代美女?” or “What is called 绝代美女?”

So, 什么叫 is a colloquial way of saying 什么是, What is... .

  • Thanks, but then why didn't she simply say 什么是? I found it is more natural... (at least for a novice language learner...)
    – Blaszard
    Oct 6, 2017 at 8:53
  • @Blaszard Unfortunately (or rather: Fortunately), I cannot look into her head, so I do not know why she used that exact phrase. You could ask her :) I’m not a native speaker, but I’ve heard “什么叫” a couple of times: enough to find it a natural yet colloquial expression.
    – Philipp
    Oct 6, 2017 at 8:56
  • Also, did she ask it since 绝代美女 doesn't make sense in Chinese, or since she didn't get what I consider a person 绝代美女 for?
    – Blaszard
    Oct 6, 2017 at 8:56
  • @Blaszard I can only guess: Maybe she didn’t know what you were trying to say. That’s because 绝代美女 means that a woman is so beautiful, in later generations there will be noone as beautiful as her. Yet you say there are too many of these exceptionally beautiful women in the Ukraine. Sounds like a contradiction to me. edit: See zhidao.baidu.com/question/680716031419870772.html
    – Philipp
    Oct 6, 2017 at 9:00
  • "什么叫" is very natural. @Blaszard
    – fefe
    Oct 6, 2017 at 10:40

There are many meanings of 意思, such as thought; mind, meaning, reason. Intention, meaning; will; look; taste; fun and so on.

什么 is a Chinese word, a question, a question of a noun, usually a question of a question

Differentity, such as this

  • that asked someone, something or something itself or nature.
    What information did you get from
  • Ask about something or something What are you telling me?
  • imaginary means that something is not sure
    Such as: smell what kind of flowers.
  • Negative.
    What is he? You miss him!
  • that blame
    What do you laugh like?
  • indicates the possibility of asking the word or a series of words in front of it.
    Such as: is this reptile, amphibian, or something else?
  • expressed surprise or excitement.
    Such as: what, do not eat breakfast!
  • All things.
    Such as: no matter the earth - fertility of all mothers - what is produced.
  • used in the "also" before that within the scope of the said no exception.
    He is not afraid of anything.
  • used in the "all" before that within the scope of the said no exception.
    Such as: as long as serious study, what can learn. [1]
  • for the pronoun with: all, all, everything; for example: as long as you agreed, I give you anything. .... I'm not afraid of anything.


  • 表示询问某人、某物或某事的本身或性质。
  • 表示询问某物或某事的情况
  • 虚指,表示不肯定的事物
  • 表示否定。
  • 表示责难。
  • 表示询问在它前面的词或一系列的词中所未包括的可能性。
  • 表示惊讶或激动。
  • 一切事物。
  • 用在“也”前,表示所说的范围之内无例外。
  • 用在“都”前,表示所说的范围之内无例外。
  • 作代词用:所有、全部、一切;例如:只要你答应了,我什么都给你。 ....我什么都不怕。

Chinese translation, yes words to see Chinese, English is not very sorry


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