How to translate 'crack'?

As in:

To crack ones knuckles?

To crack ones fingers?

and other joints/bones/etc?

(Supposedly in 四川话 it's 'pi' - I don't know the character, hopefully @Huang can let us know).

  • 1
    Hi, here I am. The corresponding character is 撇 pie 3rd tone, which actually means to bend. In Sichuan dialect, we say 撇手指 or 撇指姆儿 to express cracking fingers. Of course you may make sounds when cracking other joints or parts of the body, but I don't think there's one single word like crack that works for all cases. – Huang Jun 30 '14 at 5:03

This depends on the method used to generate the sound. The actual "cracking" is not generally mentioned when speaking about this phenomena in Chinese. Instead, the act that you perform to get the sound is the focus of the phrase.

For example, "cracking your knuckles" would become something like "squeezing your fingers", which is "捏手指", 捏 being "to pinch". As a direct translation, "pinch" doesn't make much sense in English, but just imagine the action of squeezing when pinching two pieces of skin together.

Chinese people don't always use this method of cracking fingers, however. Many people choose, instead, to twist their their individual fingers one by one. This has a different term: "掰手指", "掰" being something like "to twist".


In Cantonese, we kept the character "baak1" but few people know that the original character is simply "迫". Unfortunately, "迫手指" is not acceptable in contemporary written Chinese. (Don't confuse it with "啪" which is pronounced as "paak1".)

Edit: To translate "crack one's fingers", I think we can say "把手指扳得咯咯響".


I would use 压关节,压指头,挤关节,扳指头. I am from the north of China.


'Crack' in 'Crack Knuckles' is "咔", which is an onomatopoeia. The pinyin of "咔" is "ka", sounds just like "crack" for short. So I would translate 'Crack Knuckles' into "把指节扳得咔咔响"。

把 指节 扳得 咔咔 响
Knuckles pull Crack sound

Means "pull the knuckles, make noise sounds like crack"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.