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I don't remember hearing anyone use an equivalent of "stress" or "stressed" in a conversation, what I usually here is something like 压力很大 which in English would translate roughly to "I have a lot of pressure (on me) at the moment".

Maybe 压力很大 is the only option, or maybe even the right option, when looking to express stress in Chinese. However, I'm wondering if others here think there is a better option or maybe there isn't options because the concept of being 'stressed out' is a somewhat recent mainstream concept in the West and maybe being stressed doesn't quite fit well with Chinese culture.

So my questions are:

  • What do you think about my suggestion of stress being somewhat new in the West so there isn't an immediate equivalent in Chinese?
  • How would you translate something like "I'm feeling very stressed" or "I'm stressed out right now".

I can't see how I can translate the full concept of these sentences just using 压力 because it's not just about feeling pressure, but there are a range of emotions involved.

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  • How is feeling stressed different from feeling pressured? – 杨以轩 Oct 2 '13 at 2:58
  • 压力 is pressure literally, and 压力很大 can mean "stressed out" figuratively. – George Oct 2 '13 at 3:38
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    Please see 烦躁 and 崩溃 and 紧张。The closest eqivalant word could be 紧张 – shuangwhywhy Oct 9 '13 at 1:53
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I guess there is not a single Chinese word which can mean "stress/stressed/stressful" in all cases.

I would like to suggest the following translations.

I'm feeling very stressed. 我感到很大的压力。

A lot jobs are stressful. 很多工作都有压力。

She finds her new teaching job very stressful. 她觉得新的教学工作非常紧张。

Moving to a new house is a very stressful experience. 搬家是一件很令人焦虑的事情。

After a long hard day at work, she is stressed out. 在单位劳累了一整天后, 她已是筋疲力尽了。

How often do we arrive at work or school stressed out, tired and angry? 有多少次我们极度焦虑、疲惫、恼怒地来到单位或学校?

under the stress of poverty 为贫穷所迫

in times of stress 在困难时期

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    +1 for multiple alternatives, w/real examples of appropriate use – Stumpy Joe Pete Oct 9 '13 at 2:50
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I realise this is a thread from 2013, but it is now 2021, I am a native speaker of Chinese, and the same questions have bothered me enough, and enough times, for me to (1) ask people and search it up multiple times in the past few years (2) end up here on this page (3) not help but finally create an account on this site, so I can make this comment at 3:30.

I have been wondering about this, and quite agree with OP:

the concept of being 'stressed out' is a somewhat recent mainstream concept in the West and maybe being stressed doesn't quite fit well with Chinese culture.

(Similar to depression or Autism, for example--the term and concept as we understand it now is new, even though the condition itself was never new)

For me that is the bottom line (unfortunately and 令人焦虑又烦躁,because now I don't know what words to use with my Chinese-speaking mentor at our English-speaking workplace tomorrow. Ha.)

I appreciate all of these examples:

5 \ I guess there is not a single Chinese word which can mean "stress/stressed/stressful" in all cases. I would like to suggest the following translations. \ I'm feeling very stressed. 我感到很大的压力。 \ A lot jobs are stressful. 很多工作都有压力。 \ She finds her new teaching job very stressful. 她觉得新的教学工作非常紧张 \ Moving to a new house is a very stressful experience. 搬家是一件很令人焦虑的事情。 \ After a long hard day at work, she is stressed out. 在单位劳累了一整天后, 她已是筋疲力尽了。 \ How often do we arrive at work or school stressed out, tired and angry? 有多少次我们极度焦虑、疲惫、恼怒地来到单位或学校? \ under the stress of poverty 为贫穷所迫 \ in times of stress 在困难时期

However, for me, only the last two (为贫穷所迫、在困难时期) seem to capture the intended meaning/scenario meaning accurately. And those are ones where you could've just as easily used the words "pressure" and "difficulty" instead of "stress", respectively. ie. those two examples involve a different sense of the word "stress" in English than what we are primarily discussing here.

And that is not bad Chinese or bad translation; I think we just don't have a Chinese word for that exact concept yet. (or if such a word has been created, it just hasn't been popularised--not yet).

I guess this is just another example of how, even though all languages are perfectly capable at depicting and processing all aspects of the human experience, different languages (and cultures) will come at it from differing perspectives (or angles, as we say in Chinese), and with differing (but all valid) logics--one of the most fundamental principles in studies of linguistics.

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  • What do you think of 受壓? – L Parker Mar 12 at 4:37
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First, stress is not new in Chinese. Comparing with "压力很大", it is more like "烦燥".

Second, you can translate "I'm feeling very stressed" to "我觉得很烦燥", and "I'm stressed out right now" to "我现在快烦死了".

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    烦 is one possible result of "stress", but not stress itself. – Stan Oct 2 '13 at 3:18
  • Mercy. Sometimes it can mean that given a context. – George Oct 2 '13 at 3:47
  • 烦燥 is closer to meaning of irritated, 压力很大 is commonly used to express being stressed out. – grayQuant Oct 3 '13 at 3:37
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As a Chinese I must say that everyday we are faced with a variety of troubles too. So stress is not new in Chinese to express stress we have many options for a example “鸭梨山大”or“压力海大了” is a Optimism express when people facing stress.

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