Is there a word for "sophisticated" in Chinese?

"Sophisticated" here will mean of a person or their thoughts, reactions, and understanding, being aware of and able to interpret complex issues:

Though young and inexperienced, his thoughts are more sophisticated than the world's best philosophers...

Google translate has these options:

  1. 复杂

  2. 尖端

  3. 诡辩

Yet neither of which is suitable to be used to describe a "sophisticated" person. What other alternatives are there?


I don't think there is an exact Chinese counterpart for 'sophisticated'. It depends on the context.

世故 (worldly) is the context-agnostic translation but sometimes it has a negative connotation of slyness. When you use it on a 10-year old, it's almost surely negative.

Like the other comment mentioned, (少年)老成 can be used when to say a kid is sophisticated, but 老成 also implies '(psychologically) mature'.

The options Google translation gave you (复杂/尖端/诡辩) are definitely not the common words one would use to say 'sophisticated'. They may serve the purpose only in very specific contexts.


For the example you've added to the question, I'd choose 深邃 (deep) which is more idiomatic than the other words mentioned above to praise a philosopher's thinking ability.


超前 (ahead of time/peers/age/...) mentioned in the other answer, or 领先 (in the lead) is also fine to use, though the meaning is slightly different: 超前/领先 is describing the thoughts, the outcome of thinking, rather than the thinking ability.

  • What about the sentence "Though young and inexperienced, his thoughts are more sophisticated than the world's best philosophers".... – Pacerier May 14 '13 at 11:26
  • @Pacerier Edited my answer according to the updated question. Please take a look. – NS.X. May 14 '13 at 19:27

The word "sophisticated" has several meanings. As you have already stated in your question the meaning in context being "a person or their thoughts, reactions, and understanding, being aware of and able to interpret complex issues", I will try to elaborate on this meaning first before going into the details.

Being sophisticated does not mean being, 精明 (smart) or 老练 (an old hand). Being sophisticated is usually related to EQ rather than IQ. A sophisticated person is usually someone who is able to handle complex situations in a social setting rather than someone who can solve a complex algorithm. From this, we can infer that this person must be mature in his/her thinking. Maturity comes with experience. Sophistication does not require the over-experience of an old hand nor the exposure to worldly affairs.

With that, the following examples is what I feel appropriate by inference:

  • 熟女 - a sophisticated lady
  • 成熟的观众 - a sophisticated audience
  • 经验丰富的人 - a sophisticated person

Another meaning of sophisticated would be refined:

  • 品味高尚 - having a sophisticated taste

Both meanings can be applied on the same person and they usually do when applied to a person.

Based on your updated example, the meanings above would not apply. In this case, sophisticated takes on the meaning of "advanced" or "ahead of times". I would translate it as follows:


  • The meaning I want, as stated in the question is "being able to interpret complex issues". 经验丰富 sounds more like "experienced" (doing something alot of time), whereas 成熟 sounds more like "mature" (of age). – Pacerier May 13 '13 at 16:32
  • @Pacerier I think 精明, 老练, or 精明老练 are a lot closer to "being able to interpret complex issues" than 成熟 and 经验丰富. By the way, in Chinese, 成熟 also means mature mentally and/or psychologically. – 孤影萍踪 May 13 '13 at 17:25
  • @孤影萍踪 I'd love to see you give an answer w/examples. You always give a lot of attention to detail in your answers. – Stumpy Joe Pete May 13 '13 at 20:15
  • @StumpyJoePete Thanks for your nice comments about my answers. I just try to give many examples to help understand. I belive learning by examples is much better than by rules. But I am sorry, on this topic of "sophisticated", I don't have a lot info/experience to share. – 孤影萍踪 May 13 '13 at 22:40
  • @Pacerier, please see my edited answer. – 杨以轩 May 14 '13 at 3:16

We can say like this:


which means that he knows a lot about how the real world works, how to deal with complex politics, how to not offend others, etc.

  • Can this phrase be used to describe someone young like 10 yrs old? – Pacerier May 13 '13 at 16:33
  • 2
    @Pacerier For teenagers or young adults, we say 少年老成, meaning they are more mature mentally and/or psychologically than their peers. – 孤影萍踪 May 13 '13 at 17:09

I don't know why but I can't write comments. So I'll just write something here.

To me, Chinese language doesn't have a corresponding word to "sophisticated" to describe a person. Neither of the Google Translate results is right to describe a person. Instead there are a lot of Chinese words to use in different contexts.

I'd agree more with @NS.X. . Also you'll notice in his/her example, 深邃 is used to describe the thoughts / ideas / thinking ability, but not the person.

Just one little comment here: 熟女 is sometimes used to describe a sexually matured young woman so I would avoid this. Except this, I'd agree with other examples @Question-Overflow posted.

In short, different words as listed above are used in different contexts.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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