The first time I notice the word 欸 is in a game (Genshin Impact) with 欸嘿. Then I find another word 诶, which is not that so common vs 欸. So what is the difference between them?

3 Answers 3


欸 and 诶 are both modal word and only used to express some meaningless sound in a dialogue. They sound same, they have no meaning, and usually we don't talk about their difference.


欸 is old Chinese and it is replaced and now more commonly written as the character 唉. It’s colloquially used in many places in different domains - be it dialogues of old Chinese drama or chinese games or even characters in it. Fun fact: Chinese language has more than 70,000 characters out of which only 20,000-30,000 is taught and used in everyday Chinese (Spoken and written) language. AFAIK, these are just exclamation sounds and do not necessarily have any meanings. Some other examples are 嗯, 哇 and so on.

  • 1
    No, you are wrong. 唉 stands for sigh, for example, 「唉,我又考砸了」. But 欸 is used as 「欸,你怎么在这」「好欸」.
    – SHBooKP
    Commented Mar 17 at 16:35

Both words are the same type - "interjection/exclamation; they share the same pronunciations ([ēi],[éi],[ěi],[èi]) with similar uses but the exceptions below:

  • [ǎi] - 欸乃 is an Onomatopoeia, that phonetically imitates the sound of skulling the boat with a long oar (指摇橹声).

  • [xī] - 1. used when expressing negative feelings about an odious event/person. 2. used with a forced smile.

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