In this website they write "乳酪 ru3 lao4" is a word which is used in Taiwan to describe cheese.

But my Taiwanese friend told me they don't use this word, they use "nai3 lao4" or "cheese".

Could you write me something about popularity of "ru3l lao4" in China and Taiwan, and also how often you hear people using each of these words to describe cheese in the country you're living in? In percentage, like "I hear "cheese" about 60% of times and "nai3 lao4" 40% of times".

2 Answers 2


乳酪, pronounced ru3 luo4 (not lao4) in Taiwan, is kind of the official technical term for cheese, it would be on an ingredients list, for example, but this term is not commonly used in casual speech, except where it's part of the name of some dish and in those cases it seems to mostly refer to cream cheese.

奶酪, pronounced nai3 lao4 here, in Taiwan doesn't mean cheese, it refers to a panna cotta-style milk pudding. You can google 奶酪 and check the images.

芝士 Is also found on many labels, like 芝士麵包, but I've never personally heard anyone say it out loud. I'm pretty sure I've seen people read or "translate" that into qi3shi4. Might even be an alternate reading of the first character.

Most common way to refer to cheese in informal speech and in a lot of informal writing, like menus, is 起司 qi3 shi1, occasionally 起士 qi3 shi4. That's what the vast majority of Taiwanese know cheese by.

Not sure how those terms are used in other counties though.


Your Taiwanese friend said 奶酪 is more popular than 乳酪 in Taiwan, then it is probably true.

When I say '芝士' is the term Hong Kong Chinese most commonly use to describe 'cheese' you should believe me too.

I would say 乳酪 is more popular in written Chinese, because I rarely see 奶酪 appear in any text. On the other hand, I had came across the term 乳酪 many many times in menu, cook book, label etc.

  • 1
    Same in my experience. In the mainland I find 乳酪 mostly in recipes
    – blackgreen
    Commented Jun 18, 2020 at 20:24

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