I know certain measure words convey respect, for example:


Is there something similar I could use to emphatically disrespect someone, as in:


Or is just using disrespectful enough?

  • 1
    Measure words convey a unit of measurement. That's about it.
    – 杨以轩
    Jul 7, 2013 at 8:55
  • @QuestionOverflow: Yeah, but the words can still be tinted. 个 and 位 can measure a person, but one of those measuring sticks is more respectful.
    – rxmnnxfpvg
    Jul 7, 2013 at 21:13
  • "饭桶" is a disrespectful word, and to measure any type of "桶(Bucket)", one never use "位". If your focus is on "measure word", you could use another example like: why "他是一位作家" sounds more respectful than "他是一个作家".
    – pimgeek
    Jul 8, 2013 at 0:30
  • @ash, "他是一个正人君子" doesn't convey less respect than "他是一位正人君子". Also most people would say "他是一个好丈夫" instead of "他是一位好丈夫". Measure words are neutral words.
    – 杨以轩
    Jul 8, 2013 at 3:55
  • I understand now. Although some measure words are typically paired with respectful nouns, the measure words themselves are only respectful by association and not because of inherent meaning.
    – rxmnnxfpvg
    Jul 8, 2013 at 4:31

2 Answers 2


General answer to disrespectful measure words

I can't recall any special disrespectful measure words in Chinese. Such disrespectful phrases are just expressed with simple measure words according to the noun. Like


  • 一个笨蛋 [offensive level: 1]

  • 一个饭桶 [offensive level: 2]

  • 一个贱人 [offensive level: 4]

  • 一个傻逼 [offensive level: 5, with profanity word 屄/逼(cunt)]

  • 一个二逼 [offensive level: 5, with profanity word 屄/逼(cunt)]


  • 一坨屎 [offensive level: 3]

  • 一只(个)禽兽 [offensive level: 2]

  • 一条走狗 [offensive level: 2]

Note that the offensive level is my personal feeling: 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest. You'd better not use offensive level >= 3 words when speaking to somebody face to face, or, you'd better be ready for a fight :)

Metaphor of measure words

A few Chinese people use measure words 只/坨 to show emphatic disrespect with metaphor.

他是一只小人。 (the measure word implies he is even not a human.)

But it is rarely heard in daily life. Interestingly, the official editorial often use

一 小撮 不明真相的群众

一 小撮 犯罪分子

to describe some kind of people are really few with a derogatory sense. It's a metaphor too, implying that kind of people are just like a small pinch of dust.

Common ways to emphasize your expression

To emphasize the expression, you can omit the numeral

他是个饭桶。 He is a scalawag.

Or you can also use 就是, 真是

他就是个饭桶。 He is exactly a scalawag.

他真是个饭桶。 He is really a scalawag.

And for shouting, omit the verb



  • 1
    Concerning the readers of this website are language learners, it's important to point out that 饭桶/笨蛋 are rude language while 傻逼/二逼 are profanity words. The latter ones are much more harsh than the former ones, although they're used quite extensively.
    – NS.X.
    Jul 7, 2013 at 7:42
  • @NS.X. Good advice.
    – Stan
    Jul 7, 2013 at 8:22

Hong Kong Cantonese uses the expression

(一  ) 條       友/友仔
(jat1) tiu4    jau5/jau5zai2
one    long:MW friend

as a contemptuous way of referring to a person. While 個 can be used instead, the measure word 條 suggests something long, slippery and unpleasant.

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