The idiom 降维攻击 is quite popular in Chinese chatting rooms.
Interestingly, it's used almost in any context. What's the origin and meaning of it?
Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
降维攻击 or 降维打击 is from 刘慈欣 (Liu Cixin)'s famous sci-fi novel 三体 (The Three-Body Problem).
It means that an advanced civilization uses a dimension reduction weapon 二向箔 to destroy a low-grade civilization by crushing their stellar system into a 2D plane.
If someone is not familiar with young netizen's culture or fashion, he won't know this idiom.
As you mentioned, this so called idiom can derive to any meaning and apply to any context, it doesn't need to express an exact meaning. Instead, it can express any relative meaning depending on its context. If we talk about this idiom, we should first talk about not only its context, but also its users.
I've never heard anyone around me using this high-end idiom...
So I searched the Internet, and found the idiom coming from Liu Cixin's renowned sci-fi novel The Three Body Problem.
The original explanation is not easy to understand, so people just use its derived meaning: "attacking others in a 'vulgar/despicable' way".
降 - 下降 - lower v.
维 - 维度 - literally means dimension n. - more precisely means level n.
攻击 - attack v./n.
降维攻击 - lower-levelled attack
Please be aware that it's a highly informal expression, to some extent a man-made expression by contemporary people, to express sb is much more powerful than others.
For example, professional football team vs amateur football team
Honestly speaking, I don't think this kind of expression worth spending much time learning. They're sort of amusement making you sound interesting, however, unlikely to be used in an appropriate situation when the popularity cools down after a period of time.
In economics there is this term called "creative destruction" coined by Joseph Schumpeter. It describes a scenario where outdated past business practices are demolished and replaced with new innovative methods. The invention of the steam engine / smartphone is a creative destruction: by "destroying" the old, unproductive tools (human & animal power / pre-smartphone era phones) they brought about new means of production / communication and significant efficiency gains.
降维攻击/降维打击 has a similar meaning to creative destruction: employ more advanced techniques/measures/ideas and bring a devastating blow to the less advanced ones. It can be literally translated as "higher-level blow" or "strike from a higher level". The term is often used in marketing speak as a reference to a more advanced business concept.