I speak Mandarin Chinese, but it is the first time that I stumbled upon the word 鸡贼. According to 百度百科 (Baidu wiki), it means being stingy. The wiki page also says that it comes from the Beijing dialect. Can anyone tell me what the origin of this word is?
This word is obviously from a half-fictional character with the nickname of “Zhou Bapi” 周扒皮 which was well known during the 1950s and 60s.
“Zhou Chunfu 周春富, who owned over 200 hectares of farmland in Dalian, was also identified as a landlord. His story became widely known after the soldier-writer Gao Yubao's semi-fictitious autobiography depicted Zhou as a landlord who allegedly mimicked a crowing rooster to get his hired laborers to work early. ”
In that fiction, Zhou was then mistaken as a chicken thief and shot by a Japanese soldier. The fiction grew so popular in the 1950s and 60s that this word became a phrase in some areas. But although this novel was believed to be semi-autobiographic, in recent years researchers found this novel was far from reality and was a product for the purpose of political propaganda.
This means a kind of ability of saving money or get more or cost little than others. For example, you buy a coco-cola, the waiter will add some ice to the cup. Ice is cheaper than coco-cola. If you ask the waiter not add ice at all, then you cost the same amount of money as other people but buy more valuable thing. This kind of action could be said 鸡贼。
According to this page: http://www.baike.com/wiki/%E9%B8%A1%E8%B4%BC%E7%94%B7 鸡贼 stems from a popular online article that coined the term. Specifically, this article: http://www.vdolady.com/html/17/n-4017.html
For posterity, baike claims that the origin of the term is:
Canny and selfish.