I'm reading a Chinese novel and I'm having trouble understanding something I feel is rather metaphorical. 张侃侃 is resisting being 追求ed by the flirtatious 谈晋. 张侃侃 tore her clothes and as she is changing, 谈晋 puts his clothes on 张侃侃's head. 张侃侃 says...


(喜欢你,我也是, p.10)

The part in bold literally means something like

not in accordance with [不按] routine [套路] majiang-playing [出牌] brain [脑] circuits [回路]

which is nonsense. I think it's metaphorical. Part of it seems answered here: 不按套路出牌 is something like "unconventional" (see also this Q.), so putting it together means something like "unconventional brain circuitry", but I'm not sure this is correct.

Question: What does 不按套路出牌的脑回路 mean?

3 Answers 3


Let's break it down:


套路 usually indicates a frame of reference, a set of rules ("routine" may be correct for some sports, like martial arts, or weight-lifting exercises; or the "every day routine"), and the term is often associated to playing cards or games. So 不按套路 means literally "not according to the rules", but not in the sense of cheating; more in the sense of "out of the box" as in "thinking out of the box", "unconventional", "unexpected".
As if when playing Monopoly (大富翁) you land on one of the expensive lots and even if you could, you don't purchase it, contrary to what other players would do in the same situation.


And as a matter of fact we have 出牌,so 不按套路出牌 is something like "playing unconventionally". It doesn't refer to a specific (card) game. It's just used metaphorically here.

Just the noun modifier.


As you correctly note, 回路 means "circuitry", "circuit", as in 电回路。 The variant 脑回路 here is also a relatively common term to indicate, by extension, the "circuits in your brain"

Putting it all together:


I like your translation "unconventional brain circuitry". The meaning is that Zhang Kankan 张侃侃 the woman, is kinda "unconventional" in her line of though.

As a matter of fact the woman says “你的衣服很香” to Tan Jin 谈晋,who is a male. And Tan Jin is taken by surprise, he thinks that this sentence is unconventional, coming from her, because it's normally said by a male to a female, and not the other way around (he says 不要随便说男生的台词).

So he feels a little bit 无奈,or “我服了你了” toward Zhang Kankan unconventional approach, which is elegantly rendered as 甘拜下风, "whatever", "I raise white flag".


You just can't always put all the Chinese into English. Try to catch the idea.

"Your clothes smell nice." said Zhang Kankan distractedly.

Tan Jin was startled

that Zhang Kankan could pull such an unconventional trump,

he saw he was beaten

He laughed and said, "You shouldn't steal my lines."

(I'm the flirt, don't nick my lines!)


It means that "You don't use normal logic."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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