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Today I went to an ice-cream shop with my Chinese friend, and we wrote notes to stick on the wall. My friend wrote:

enter image description here

开心健康平安、发发发
kāixīn, jiànkāng, píng'ān, fā fā fā

The first three items are ordinary well wishes, but I have no idea why she would write 发发发. I asked her about it, but she couldn't explain it to me.

Question: Why did my friend write 发发发 on her note?

Searing for 发发发 at YouDao gives inappropriate suggestions, and it's not listed at Dict.cn, nor Line Dict, nor 小马词典.

  • 4
    I think it's short for 發財. – droooze Jul 4 '18 at 8:01
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    droooze, short? But it IS a funny way to say 发财. – user19549 Jul 4 '18 at 14:55
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发:Short for 发财,make a fortune,become rich。

Chinese people like to use reiterative locution to emphasize the strong meaning or wish. Other cases like: 好好好、 旺旺旺、棒棒棒、赞赞赞。 Sometimes you will also see 888 instead of 发发发,because 888(bababa) has similar pronunciation with 发发发(fafafa) and much easier to write/type.

  • 666 is another common one - not for the devil though. – user3306356 Jul 5 '18 at 5:33
  • @user3306356 Aha, yes, you're right! – Bruce Huang Jul 5 '18 at 5:35
  • @user3306356 Presumably not as a stand-in for 发财 either, since liù doesn’t exactly sound like either or cái… so what is 666 used for? I’ve only ever seen it used to mean ‘exaggerated floods of tears’ (because 666 is ‘one more’ than 555, which sounds like 呜呜呜). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 5 '18 at 7:32
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    @JanusBahsJacquet 666 stand for 六六六(means smoothly,顺利) or 溜溜溜(means proficiency,熟练) – Bruce Huang Jul 5 '18 at 7:59
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    @JanusBahsJacquet I was just adding it to Bruce’s list of “other cases,” perhaps I didn’t make that clear. 666 can also be for 牛牛牛 (poor southern accents!) to mean awesome, amazing, wicked. – user3306356 Jul 5 '18 at 8:13
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发发发;

发 is short for 发财(get rich, make a fortune). There is a catch saying: 重要的事情说三遍(important things should be reiterated three times). This is kind of emphasis for its importance. That's why people usually put three 发s: 发发发. They wish you make a great deal of money!

  • 1
    Note that 重要的事情说三遍 is an online meme/catchphrase popular since 2015, but 发发发 or the phenomenon of triplets has been widely used long before. – Frenzy Li Jul 5 '18 at 3:47
  • @dans On the contrary, the origin of “重要的事情说三遍” is disputed and all proposed origins has no direct relation with the historical Chinese usage-- variant of popular Japanese ACG catchphrase; Japanese comedy shows; Japanese commercials. “重要的事情说三遍” cannot be used as an explain the origin of “发发发” but the existence of phrases such as “发发发” and techniques of using three-time-repetition to prove a point both prompted the invention and popularization of “重要的事情说三遍”. – Frenzy Li Jul 5 '18 at 4:15
  • Thank you for your suggestion. However, I'm not writing a competing answer because there already is one. – Frenzy Li Jul 5 '18 at 4:58

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