Questions tagged [meaning]

Questions about understanding the meaning of words, phrases, etc. For in-context meaning, use [meaning-in-context].

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How to understand “你怎么了?”

I understand 怎么 generally means "how". However, I came across the following translated example: 你怎么了? 说话声音这么小! Nǐ zěnme le ? Shuōhuà shēnɡyīn zhème xiǎo! What happened to you? You are ...
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A unified theory of 就 meaning

就 always bothered me. I couldn't (and maybe still can't) get a hold of its meaning. By looking at many examples of the usage I came to realization that 就 marks a process of becoming a subject to or ...
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What is the meaning of 相声?

Today I read a blog post talking about a Canadian guy called Mark Rowswell (aka 大山) that appears on Chinese TV shows and who is able to do 相声. This 相声 is referred to as "the art of language". What ...
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犬子: who's the dog?

犬子 (literally, dog + son) is an archaic, self-depreciatory term to refer to your son (occasionally it's used to insult other people's sons). This answer raises a question though; who is the dog ...
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What does 反动 mean?

The dictionary definition of 反动 means reactionary, and in the political sense it can also mean someone who is very conservative, as opposed to progressive. However, it seems that this word is being ...
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What does 厉害 mean, and in what context does it mean what?

This has to be one of the more ambiguous words I have struggled with. 厉害 can be: very well performed = 玩得很厉害; harsh = 骂得很厉害; severe = 生病得很厉害; probably a bunch of other stuff... Can anyone give a ...
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What is “qiou”?

Apparently this character has been dubbed the character of the year (2018): It's pronunciation is said to be: qiou but a lot of people claim it should just be pronounced the same as: 我 I can'...
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早已 and 早就: what's the difference?

To my understanding, both hold the meaning of "already happened long ago". What are the nuances though? Are they interchangeable? Examples: 他早已打定主意了。 (He made up his mind long ago.) 他早就搬走了。 (He ...
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Who exactly is a 干妈

This dictionary translates 干妈 as "Godmother", and my pocket dictionary also gives "nominal mother". In English, "Godmother" and "Godfather" are very specific titles - Your Godparents are the people ...
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What is the meaning of this expression (落了下乘)?

然而当和尚走上石阶,禅房内却传来一声苍老的叹息:“长捷,虽为杀人事, 亦是菩提心,但若存了杀人念,你便落了下乘。” “落了下乘”是什么意思呢?我已经百度一下,但是还没明白。词典也无用了。 我知道“落了”有fall, drop的意思,然后“下乘“有”小乘佛教“的意思。但是”落了下乘“的意思不明白。 请你解说我一下。
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他在工厂住了半年/living in factories

This was an example sentence in Practical Chinese Reader 31. Do people actually live in factories, or is there some cultural context I'm missing? In previous chapters, people are constantly visiting ...
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1answer
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Difference between 觉得 and 认为

I know both 觉得 and 认为 can be used to mean "to think", like: 你认为这篇文章怎么样? 你觉得这篇文章怎么样? But most people would translate 觉得 to "to feel". Does 觉得 express more of what someone thinks ...
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表达 vs. 表现 vs. 表示 vs. 显示

These four words all express (get it, because they all mean express ha ha ha) similar meanings: to express/show/display/manifest/demonstrate/convey/indicate etc. I'm sure there are subtle differences ...
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What does “作” mean in this context?

I was listening and they said stuff like 大作 and 小作。 My friend thinks it's an adjective and it can be used as so: 一个很作的女孩子。
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What is the difference between these two words 叫做 and 叫作?

What is the difference between these two words 叫做 and 叫作? The dictionary definition is quite similar and when I use this term in conversation I am unaware of which character combination I am using.
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“I will,” “I can,” “I will (probably)” A fundamental problem with 會

I've always been a little wary of talking about the future in Chinese using the character 會, my early teachers made it ambiguous or demanded that I use a 的 at the end of every 會 sentence, but then ...
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How to say the term “招” and “式” in English?

It's used as a classifier, like this: "亢龙有悔"是"降龙十八掌"中的*一招*. and *一招一式*他都记得清清楚楚. So how to say it in English?
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“惡” vs “噩” vs “厄”

I have seen these three characters forming the "same" words (I cannot think of a better way to phrase this), such as 惡夢 vs 噩夢 and 惡運 vs 噩運 vs 厄運 As I tried googling for the difference, I ...
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What does 出来 mean in 真看不出来你是外国人?

What does 出来 mean in this sentence? 真看不出来你是外国人 Doesn't 出来 mean "come out of ..."?
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What is the meaning of 冒 in 感冒?

I like to know how a word 'works' in a phrase. What did people think when they came up with the phrase 感冒? A hat/cover on your feelings?? Maybe this 感 means something else? 感 means feel, perceive, ...
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Can 知道 be used in the sense of “to know someone”?

While watching a video with Chinese subtitles on a Chinese website, I came across this dialogue: Approximate English gloss (leaving out unnecessary details): A: You're XXX, right? B: So you ...
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When to use 想 versus 喜欢?

Could someone please give we a hint when to use either of those?! My take is that 想 is used for actions and 喜欢 for things!? Am I right?
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Do Westerners 上火?

Sometimes people ask me how to say 上火 in English and I tell them I don't know. I tell them people don't really have the concept of 上火 in America, let alone the term. So how would you succinctly ...
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Does 「你的中文是在哪里学的?」mean “How did you study Chinese?” or “Where did you study Chinese?”

Recently I left the following post on social media: 中国人:你的中文是在哪里学的? 我:在北京语言大学学的。 Just to clarify, I wrote both those sentences to express a regular conversation that I have with Chinese people. There ...
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Meaning of 一人付一半 in 车费我们俩一人付一半,怎么样?

In this sentence: 车费我们俩一人付一半,怎么样? I don't fully understand the meaning of 一人付一半. I have found that 付一半 can mean "pay half", but 一人 confuses me (if it refers to one person, why is that form used ...
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太: Meaning in 灰太狼

灰太狼 灰太狼 (A character in a TV show) is translated in English as "Grey Wolf". What has happened to the 太, wouldn't 灰狼 be enough to mean "Grey Wolf"?
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When to use 世界 and when to use 国际

These two terms are broadly speaking translations of "world" (世界), and "international" (国际). Recently, I've been reminded that "international" in English can be used to mean "many nations" rather than ...
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“是你太能說了”這句話什麼意思?

My friend complained that she aged five years in an instant and she posted some photos. I commented that she always has excellent skin and looks very young. Then she said: 是你太能說了 Does this mean ...
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What is the verbatim translation for “都什么时候了” ?

"什么时候" means verbatim "what time" But, when i add 都 (adverb meaning "all") and 了(particle indicating either change of state or completion), i can not grasp what meaning is conveyed by this phrase. ...
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Is 帮忙 and 帮助 interchangeable?

I looked up in the dictionary, 帮 means help, and 忙 means busy while 助 also means help, so is 帮忙 (help busy) and 帮助(help help) interchangeable? Or what is the subtle difference between them? Thanks!
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How did 舆论 come to represent Public Opinion?

How did the word 舆论 come to represent the concept of Public Opinion? I know the meanings of the individual characters but I just don't quite see how the combination of these two meanings leads to the ...
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435 views

What is the difference between 吾 and 我 in 文言文?

For instance, in the phrase 「我善养吾浩然之气」 I notice both 我 and 吾 are used. Is there a reason for this?
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What is the difference between 变成、变化、变得、改变、转变?

There are five 变 here, so what is the difference between 变成、变化、变得、改变、转变?
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Meaning of “去你的头”

I just heard "去你的头" in a joke, and while it sounds like an approving "go ahead" OR "go with your head/what you think" I realized at the end of the joke it's kind of an equivalent of "go f*** yourself" ...
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535 views

In 那个是我工作上的东西, what is the difference between 工作上 and 工作?

那个是我工作上的东西 Why is there a 上 in this sentence? How does it change the meaning? Ie, what's the difference between 工作的东西 and 工作上的东西? When should 工作上 be used as opposed to 工作?
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What does “被续了” mean?

我想这个穿着红色衣服的男孩已经被续了。 In this sentence, the word "续" means life-prolonging, and when people say this they usually mean that someone was being life-prolonged to somebody instead of someone was being ...
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How can I interpret 多 in 我才来了三个多月?

It must be pretty easy, but what does 多 mean here? 我才来了三个多月
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Another meaning of 同志

Is it true that 同志 has some different meaning? Like gay (as in homosexual) or something? I know that during the 20th century in China and communist Russia it was very common to call people 同志 (товарищ,...
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Help me understand why 我艹你 means i f*** you?

This might seem as an unserious question but i was really stunned the first time I had an argument with a Chinese guy in League of Legends and he said: "我艹你". my first thought ofcourse was WTF!?! I ...
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What is the difference between 投诉 and 抱怨?

is there a difference between 投诉 and 抱怨? All I know is that they both mean "complain".
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Is there a difference between 担心 (dānxīn) and 着急 (zháojí)?

They're both verbs, they both have meanings "to worry, to be anxious", they both seem to be able to be used as adjectives also. I just want to know if there's any difference: is one used more in ...
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The meaning of 牛气 and 很牛

I have seen one of my language partners use 牛气 and 很牛, but he couldn't explain it to me. The context suggested it meant something like "bullshit" or "you are kidding me", a sign or disbelief, but the ...
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Is 我很对不起你 a unique sentence structure?

I'd never seen or heard this before until I recently watched a TV series and had to ask my wife to explain. My initial guess was that it meant "I feel sorry for you" when in fact it means something ...
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What does the `的` mean in `我是九点去上班的`?

In the reply to 你是什么时候去上班的?, what does the 的 in 我是九点去上班的 mean? I think that without the 的, the sentence makes sense in and of itself, right? And the meaning is that I start to work at 9:00 am...., ...
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Difference between 新 and 生?

Until now, I thought 新 meant 'new' in all contexts. In class recently, our tutor showed a slide in which he used 生词 for 'new words'. My dictionary gives the meaning of 生 when used as an adjective as '...
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What's the difference between 兵器 and 武器?

According to the dictionary, 兵器 = weapons, weaponry while 武器 = weapons, arms. It sounds like they are synonyms to me so I was wondering if those two words are synonyms or do they have some difference ...
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What does 生命诚可贵 爱情价更高 若为自由故 二者皆可抛 mean?

生命诚可贵 爱情价更高 若为自由故 二者皆可抛 I think it means "life is expensive, but love is even more so. However, both are not as good as freedom."
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Translation/Meaning: 棒棒机

What exactly is a 棒棒机? I know it's a simple, ordinary kind of cell phone. Is it the same as the English: burner? What constitutes a 棒棒机? What equivalent phrases do we have in English?
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What is the difference between Chinese simplified and Chinese traditional?

I'm Indian. I'm trying to learn Chinese. I searched Google translate, it's showing Chinese simplified or Chinese traditional. What is the difference between Chinese simplified and Chinese traditional?...
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寻 找 , 就 寻 见: I do not understand the second “xún”

At the website http://learnchinesethrubible.org/ I find the following phrase: seek and you will find 寻 找 , 就 寻 见 I do not understand the second "xún". In the dictionary http://www.mdbg.net ...

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