This excellent answer explains the differences between 成语, 俗语, and 谚语.

However, it doesn't discuss which one -- if any -- translates into "slang."

Do any of these mean "slang" in Cantonese and Mandarin? The dictionary definitions are not clear.

成语 俗语 谚语 俗話 熟語 俚語

  • 俚語 ..................
    – dan
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 6:30
  • @dan for both cantonese and mandarin? also please post as answer or you can't get credit! ;)
    – Crashalot
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 6:30
  • 1
    Not sure about Cantonese. So someone who knows Cantonese is the right person to answer this. Credits or reputations of this site are not important as long as we can help more Chinese learners.
    – dan
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 6:43
  • 1
    If you’re trying to get Chinese people to understand I would go with 口语 as opposed to 书面语, it’s probably the easiest way to express this colloquially.
    – Mou某
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 9:12

1 Answer 1


For "slang"

俚語- Mandarin

俗称- 'slang' (n) Cantonese e.g.「孖煙囪係男裝短內褲嘅俗称」('Double chimney' is a slang for men's short under pants)

俗称 (v) 'commonly called' e.g, 「男裝短內褲俗称孖煙囪」 (men's short under pants is commonly called 'Double chimney'

俗语 = 'folk saying/ as the saying goes' e.g. 俗語都有話:「牛唔飲水點㩒得牛頭低」( As the saying goes: " If a bull doesn't want to drink water, there's no way you can force its head down")

  • once again, thanks! how about 口语 as another user suggests for "slang" in cantonese?
    – Crashalot
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 17:14
  • 口语 means "colloquial spoken words" in contrast of 書面語 ( literary reading) for example, when you say "係我", it is a 口语 ; when you read from a script and say "是我", then it is a 書面語
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 9:06
  • The 口语 and 書面語 of 孖煙囪 are the same
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 9:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.