According to the English Wiktionary there are four Chinese terms equivalent to English "oyster":

  • mǔlì : 牡蠣 / 牡蛎
  • hǎilìzi : 海蠣子
  • háo : 蚝
  • háozi : 蚝子

Is one of these standard or most common in Taiwan? What's the difference between them all?

  • don't forget 蚝's variant form: 蠔 Feb 3, 2014 at 21:07

3 Answers 3


In Taiwanese 蚵仔 (ô á), in Taiwan Mandarin 牡蛎 (mǔ lì).

There's also 蛤蠣 (há lì) but this means clams.


In addition to 牡蠣, or 蛤仔 in Taiwanese, which are the general terms, 牡蠣 being the scientific name as well, the other most common term you would hear in Taiwan is 生蠔.

Taiwanese usually colloquially differentiate them by using 蛤仔 for the smaller oysters that are eaten cooked, found in many traditional dishes, and 生蠔 for the larger oysters that are eaten raw, or sometimes grilled. Scientifically, they're the same thing, though.


@Amateur: Ten year-old mispronunciation

{CLAM vs TOAD} 蛤蠣 (also written as 蛤蜊) is pronounced gélì [Pinyin] / geʳliₕ [GR Tonal Spelling]. The MOE dictionary marks the second syllable as 2nd tone, but I've only ever heard 蜊 pronounced as 4th tone. After half a century in Taiwan. I have never heard anyone pronounce the word 蛤蠣 as hálì / haʳliₕ As the second syllable of "toad", the same character is pronounced 蛤蟆 háma/ haʳ.ma

{TAIWANESE "OYSTER"} Even when speaking Mandarin, many people code switch and use the Southern Min word 蚵仔 (ôá) for the small clams used in omelets.

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