The standard phrase for tastes bad is 难吃. But plenty of stuff tastes bad without being edible. For instance toothpaste. I performed a google search for:


finding no exact and just one near match.

So, how to express tastes bad, when the subject is not edible?

味道不好的牙膏 ?

苦口的牙膏 ?

Perhaps only for bitter pastes?

  • 1
    X(的)味道很难受: X tastes bad.
    – imrek
    Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 6:10
  • 1
    As a native Chinese speaker, I stumbled upon this problem a few times in my life. I wanted to express the food was difficult to eat, but it did taste pretty good. When I said "难吃" (difficult to eat), I immediately retracted my statement, as I suddenly realized that "difficult to eat" was actually the euphemism of "tasting bad". Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 9:49

4 Answers 4


味道不好的牙膏 ?

Yes, 味道不好 or 味道很差 would do

味道不好 (doesn't taste good) e.g. 这漱口水味道不好,像消毒酒精一般的

味道很差 (taste awful) e.g. 这口香糖味道很差,像咳嗽药水一般的


Also: 難以入口 (too awful to put in mouth)





imrek wrote:

X(的)味道很难受: X tastes bad

Yes, you can substitute 不好(not good) or 很差(very bad) with 很难受 (hard to take) in the first three examples I provided

Beside 漱口水,口香糖,牙膏, 嚼烟草 and 檳榔 , I can't think of anything else with a taste that you put in the mouth but not supposed to swallow it

  • 1
    What is 咳药? this comment must reach 15 characters
    – Ludi
    Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 6:16
  • 1
    Cantonese call 咳嗽药水 (Cough Syrup) 咳药水, It may sound funny to Mandarin speakers. We also call 消防車 (Fire truck) 火燭車
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 6:22

這牙膏的味道很差.(The taste of toothpaste is very bad.) 這 means "this", 牙膏 means "toothpaste", 牙膏的味道 means "taste of toothpaste", 很 means "very", 差 means "bad".

這牙膏的味道還真噁心.(The taste of toothpaste is very disgusting indeed.) 還 denotes "something is unexpected." 真 means "indeed". 噁心 means "distrusting".


So, how to express tastes bad, when the subject is not edible?

Because the subject is not edible. So it's not a kind of "NORMAL FOOD", right?

To express this, you can use:


(I have never eaten toilet paper before, so I can only guess that the taste of toilet paper is bad.)


For bad tasting inedibles inadvertently introduced to the taste buds:


For inedible edibles:

This is rancid!

Although, yesterday, I mistook the jar with monosodium glutamate for sugar and put it in my delicious 中咖 coffee! 真恶性!

  • 3
    Do you mean 噁心 instead of 噁性? Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 9:50
  • You're right! I sit too much at the computer, gone mad in this sticky heat!
    – Pedroski
    Commented Aug 1, 2020 at 23:50

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