I'm genuinely confused about this. Does repeated "什么" have special meaning? Or are they just wordplay?

I've read something like this "那什么什么" but I can't comprehend it at all. I tried looking for similar phrases and found them to be even more incomprehensible.

There was no context to this "那什么什么" I read, hence my confusion.

8 Answers 8


什么什么 can be used as a filler like "blabla". In Japanese the pedant is used (何). Good translations would be "and so on" or "blabla", imo.

Example, when trying to explain how "As soon as" works in Chinese:


--> This is the generic version of the usage of "as soon as".

I would translate this with

"As soon as he [...], he makes/does [...]"

whereas the [...] is filled by 什么什么 and in English this could be "blablabla":

"As soon as he blablabla, he makes/does blablabla".

Source: My own experience as a non native speaker and my wife (who is a native speaker and whom I am going to ask today evening to confirm my answer)

EDIT: I asked her, she can confirm my answer. But there also is another usage of repeated 什么: Your question refers to "那什么什么" - which is used as a substitution, in case you forget a word during a conversation. So instead of saying the name of the thing you use "那什么什么".

Interestingly, a similar concept exists for persons/names. If you forgot a person's name or do not want to use the name the substitute "那谁" would be used.


I'd sometimes use it is as a placeholder for something I want to refer to, especially if the thing is a bit of a mouthful, and I can't remember what it is.

A: 就好像刚才说的那什么什么,这里不就挺适用了吗?
A: That "thing" that we talked about just now, wouldn't it be great for this?

B: 你是说超级武器霸王 要你命3000?
B: You mean watermelon knife?

A: 啊对对对就是那个。
A: Ah yeah yeah yeah that's it.

Granted, this may not be a common usage.

Note: Sometimes I‘d use 谁谁谁 as placeholder when referring someone too if I can't quite remember the person's name. 那谁谁谁。


This is to express the tone of emphasis.


"那什么" is just a filler word, like "you know", "I mean", etc. It just makes a pause in a sentence so that you can have time to think and organize your words. It doesn't really have any meanings. And you can make the pause longer by repeating "什么".


那什么什么 sounds like the speaker indicates that there are more things coming up or it can not be described by only one sentence or word.

For example, 那什么什么的: like ~~.


I have found it to be a filler word, almost like people using "这个, 这个, 这个..." when speaking or "那个, 那个, 那个..." Or an English example would be the stereotypical Canadian , "EH!?" (which we do say). There really isn't any direct or formal meaning, if there is it is purely contextually based. But from my experience 99.9% of the time it is just a filler word.


Like any other words, the 什么 has more then one meanings, and those meanings can interact with each other, and the meaning of 什么什么 depends on the meanings of each 什么.

So it's not a good idea to talk about it without context, for your case, I'm curious if there is any punctuation? like:

  • 那什么什么……
  • 那什么什么?
  • 那什么什么!

If there isn't any, just forget about it, it's just meaningless like an x without equation in algebra.


I think this means "stuff", just like that in British English.

  • I know British love to use "stuff" to means a substance, material, group of objects, etc. when you do not know or forget the name or when it is obvious what you are talking about. I know this from the EastEnders.
    – Yeoi
    Commented Aug 18, 2019 at 9:17

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