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May sound like a silly question, but is there a difference between 傻瓜 and 笨蛋?

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    Quite subtle. Most cases of 笨蛋 are in derogatory sense, while 傻瓜 sometimes could bear some complex subjective feeling: the emphasis may be not on "silly", but other commendatory characteristics. For example, the movie "3 Idiots" is translated to "三个傻瓜", readers will probably think, "they are not really silly". – Stan Apr 19 '14 at 16:10
  • if you add a 大 or 小 to them, 大笨蛋, 小傻瓜, the meaning would be changed, like you buy an expensive ring to your girl friend, her may call you 大笨蛋. – Jacob Feb 16 at 9:07
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Literally 笨蛋 and 傻瓜 mean stupid and silly respectively. I would say, as a native speaker, 笨蛋 is used as a negative adjective for others while 傻瓜 is more teasing especially for the the speakers themselves. Also, it depends on the status of the speaker and listener, for example, we will call the kids 笨蛋, but call the wife 傻瓜 when they make the same mistake.

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