New Internet Slang and Memes

Over the past five years, many Chinese websites and newspapers, including official publications such as the People’s Daily, have issued year-end lists of new Internet buzzwords and memes. For some reason, there were very few of these lists at the end of 2013, although the Party has created a few memes of its own and ensured their popularity through constant repetition in both news media and on digital platforms such as WeChat and Weibo. ‘Big Daddy Xi’ 习大大 (p.168), the China Dream 中国梦 (pp.xviii–xx) and Tigers 老虎 (pp.xxviii–xxxi) are probably the most widely used party-generated memes.

The memes below are drawn from a variety of online sources that listed phrases that became popular in 2013 and 2014.

Vulgar Tycoon or Nouveau Riche 土豪

The term tuhao, originally meaning ‘local strongman’, was first used online to describe Internet gamers who spent large amounts of money on in-game items to impress other players. Since late 2013, the term has described people of tremendous wealth but uncouth ways and poor taste. It has also become a teasing term of endearment among friends used when one splurges on some indulgence.

You Understand … 你懂的

Originating in a song by the singer and comedic actor Xiao Shenyang 小沈阳, the phrase ni dongde soon took a life of its own as a verbal wink between two people in the know as a placeholder to disguise political or social commentary or explain its absence. Even government officials have taken it up: asked at a press conference on 2 March 2014 for details about the corruption investigation into former Politburo member Zhou Yongkang, which had not yet been formally announced, Lü Xinhua 吕新华, a spokesperson for the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference blathered for a few minutes and then simply said, ‘ni dongde’.

Cherish What You Have 且行且珍惜

After a Weibo user exposed an extra-marital affair by actor Wen Zhang 文章, his wife Ma Yili 马伊琍 posted this response: ‘Although love is easy, marriage is difficult — cherish what you have’. The last five characters 且行且珍惜 (pronounced qie xing qie zhenxi) became an Internet meme, spawning a slew of similar terms using the formula qie X qie XX, for example ‘Eating is easy, losing weight is not, cherish what you eat 吃饭虽易,减肥不易,且吃且珍惜 .

No Zuo No Die or No 作 No Die (sometimes rendered as 不作死就不会死)

This Chinglish phrase sometimes written as no zuo no die; sometimes as no 作 no die, began as slang from the Chinese north-east. Internet users use it to mean that if you don’t do something stupid in the first place, you don’t have to worry about it coming back later to haunt you.



政协发言人回答南华早报涉周永康问题 你懂的, YouTube, uploaded 2 March 2014, online at:; 政协发言人回应有关周永康传闻:你懂, iFeng, 2 March 2014, online at: