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I know what the word as a whole means but just wondering if anyone know something about perhaps the etymology and/or meaning or the like of the 炮 part in the word 娘炮, i.e. why use the character 炮 here and/or what does it refers to in this case.

I can't find much about the word meaning apart from the literal dictionary definitions of "sissy/effeminate", but I have my own theory: it seems to be some kind of innuendo to the penis, since 炮's common definition is "something that shoot projectile" so perhaps 娘炮 could be defined as something like a " 'defective/weak' penis "?

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  • any explanations from more "official" sources? even something like the Chinese equivalent of Urban Dictionary is better than nothing
    – Leo
    Sep 22 at 3:04

3 Answers 3

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Your theory's right. The word "炮" in this context is a metaphor for the penis. The term '娘炮' can therefore be understood intuitively as a male with a '炮(pennis)' but a female appearance.

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As far as I know, in some northern chinese dialects, "炮" is a derogatory name for a person. And it is usually used in specific words.

e.g., the word "屯 (village) 炮" refers to a hillbilly, and the word "山炮" refers to a reckless person.

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  • And 大炮, though literally meaning a "cannon", also means a "habitual liar" Aug 31 at 11:43
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My two cents.

The meaning 娘炮 could be related to the famous saying - "如法炮制", which means following/copying other people's methods/ways of doing something.

One of the old/original usage/meanings of the word "炮" was "utilizing the heat from fire to bake/prepare medicine", for each different medicine, there existed an established way/method to be successful, thus, the latter drug makers, who wanted to put a foot in the market quickly and cheaply, tended to "如法炮制" to save troubles.

From the above, 炮 literally implies the act of copy or imitation, so someone at some time used the phrase 娘(mother/female)炮(copying/imitates) to describe a man who acts like a woman - a replicate of a female (or his mother), a "sissy".

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