12 Shanghainese Swear Words 🗣 You Need To Know (in 2020-21) (2022)

Learn Chinese • By LTL Team HQ •

Top 10 Shanghainese Curse Words You Probably Shouldn’t Repeat!

So, curse words. They’re some of the first words you learn when studying language because, let’s be honest, they’re fun! So today we introduce to you the best Shanghainese swear words you should know.

(I, for one, know exactly how to do two things in Cantonese: count to four, and recite a not-so-repeatable swear word).

It’s all about proper immersion after all!

A quick note: Shanghainese (上海话) as a dialect (or language because it is that different) has the four tones Mandarin (普通话) has, but there isn’t a particularly standardized way of writing Shanghainese.

There are tones, but they’re a lot looser than tones in Mandarin.

The characters we have here are the phonetic pronunciations of how to say these Shanghainese swear words.

As its pronunciation is not the same as its written form, included in some is the “correct” way to write them.

Shanghainese Swear Word #1 – 册那 (ca na)

Shanghainese Swear Word #2 – 脑子坏脱了 (nong nozi wate la)

Shanghainese Swear Word #3 – 戆浮尸 (gang vousi)

Shanghainese Swear Word #4 – 弄想哪能 (nong xiang naneng)

Shanghainese Swear Word #5 – 阿乌驴 (a wu lü)

Shanghainese Swear Word #6 – 瘪三 (bie san)

Shanghainese Swear Word #7 – 戆逼样子 (gangbi yangzi)

Shanghainese Swear Word #8 – 戆驴 (gang lü)

Shanghainese Swear Word #9 – 弄只戆逼 (nong ze gangbi)

Shanghainese Swear Word #10 – 缺西 (que xi)

BONUS Swear Word #1 – 戆度 (gang du)

BONUS Swear Word #2 – 伊戆 (yi gang)

Other Final Notes


Shanghainese Swear Words – FAQs

PSST – want to master Mandarin swear words first? No problem, check out this quick video and learn the Chinese swear words in a matter of minutes!

OK now let’s discover the Shanghainese Swear Words…

1. 册那 (ca na)

A fairly common Shanghainese Swear Word. This means “sh*t”, “crap”, or “oh my god” — something along those lines.

It’s used similar in Mandarin to “我操” (wǒ cāo) or “我靠” (wǒ kào), which translates into “f*ck me”.

Although, its English translation is a lot more aggressive than its Chinese counterpart.

“册那” (ca na) shows surprise and exasperation, and it’s moderately vulgar.

2. 脑子坏脱了 (nong nozi wate la)

This phrase essentially insults someone’s intelligence in a soft, humorous way.

It’s similar to “你脑子进水了” (nǐ nǎozi jìn shuǐle) in Mandarin (that translates into “there’s water in your head”), though the Mandarin equivalent is harsher.

3. 戆浮尸 (gang vousi)

12 Shanghainese Swear Words 🗣 You Need To Know (in 2020-21) (1)

Translated directly, “戆浮尸” means “stupid floating corpse”.

“戆浮尸” has the same meaning as Shanghainese phrases “腾戆” and “浮尸”, which mean the same thing.

Though this phrase is vulgar enough, you wouldn’t hear it too often as it’s mostly used by older people.

(“戆浮尸” might be an exemplar of Shanghainese swear words when you take into consideration that the Huangpu River, amongst others, flows through Shanghai. It also flows into the Yangtze River, the world’s third longest river. Make of that what you will.)

4. 弄想哪能? (nong xiang naneng)

This means “what do you want?”.

It’s similar to “你想怎么样?” (nǐ xiǎng zěnme yàng) in Mandarin. “哪能”, the last two characters, mean “how”.

It’s an aggressive phrase, so maybe don’t say it unless you mean it.

The first character would be pronounced “弄” (nong) but written as “侬”.

5. 阿乌驴 (a wu lü)

12 Shanghainese Swear Words 🗣 You Need To Know (in 2020-21) (2)

Also not a friendly phrase, though are any of these?

Shanghainese’s “阿乌驴” means “白痴” (báichī) or “笨蛋” (bèndàn) in Mandarin, which are common ways to call someone a moron or idiot.

It’s a pretty bad thing to call someone in Shanghainese.

“阿乌驴” can also be translated into “蠢驴” (chǔn lǘ) in Mandarin, which is loanword from English-speaking movies.

“蠢” (chǔn) means dumb, and “驴” (lǘ) means donkey.

I’m sure you can guess its translation pf that one!

6. 瘪三 (bie san)

You’d say “瘪三” in regard to someone if you thought they weren’t a good person, or if you despised them.

It’s often condescendingly said, as it insinuates that the 瘪三 is of lower class.

“瘪三” is rooted in the English phrase “beg you sir”, and its phonetic pronunciation reflects this.

Learning Shanghainese : A Beginner’s Story 📖 Follow Carl’s Learn Shanghainese story – ” I thought learning Shanghainese is going to be insanely hard, but why not, maybe it’ll help me with my Chinese.”

7. 戆逼样子 (gangbi yangzi)

“戆逼样子” means “傻逼的样子” (shǎbī de yàngzi) in Mandarin, aka someone “looks like a stupid c*nt”.

This C-word is probably the harshest cuss word in the English language, and in this context, its harshness is reflected in Chinese as well. Sometimes it’s not always the case.

shǎbī is super common in spoke Mandarin and doesn’t hold the same force as the C-Word in English!

It’s a vulgar and aggressive way to describe someone.

Not a very nice phrase for sure!

8. 戆驴 (gang lü)

Definitely quite a cutting Shanghainese swear word — this one’s pretty bad, actually.

It’s the Shanghainese equivalent of “傻逼” (shǎbī) in Mandarin, which is an especially rude way of calling someone an absolute idiot.

It’s more along the lines of “stupid c*nt”.

When saying this phrase in Shanghainese, the second character would be pronounced “驴” (lü), but it would be written as “卵”.

9. 弄只戆逼 (nong ze gangbi)

This phrase follows a common thread; “弄只戆逼” means “you are a stupid c*nt”.

Again, C-Word related – seems the Shanghainese use this word a lot!

The phrase sounds like “弄再讲边”, which means “say it again”. Be super careful of your pronunciation and tones!

10. 缺西 (que xi)

“缺西” is bad; it basically means “脑子不清楚”, “脑子有问题”, or “脑子短路了” in Mandarin, which are all creative ways of saying something’s wrong with your head.

  • 脑子不清楚 (nǎozi bù qīngchǔ): your head isn’t clear
  • 脑子有问题 (nǎozi yǒu wèntí): your brain has a problem
  • 脑子短路了 (nǎozi duǎnlùle): your brain short-circuited

“缺西” is this phrase’s phonetic pronunciation: que xi.

However, if you were to write this, it would be “屈死”.

What Is Asian Glow? Our Complete Guide to Asian Glow Thanks to our student Hannah Li for this wonderful insight into what is Asian Glow. “It was a Friday or Saturday evening; I was at home with some friends over. I can’t remember why…

BONUS #1: 戆度 (gang du)

This pretty much means “dumb” or “stupid”, and it’s similar to “笨蛋” (bèndàn) in Mandarin.

“戆度” can be a swear word; that said, it’s soft for a cuss word, and can be used in a friendly manner.

Someone might call their sibling (maybe not in front of their parents, though) or significant other this to poke fun.

This phrase would be pronounced “戆度” but would be written “戆大”.

Note: “戆度” is similar to “戆驴”, which is #8 on this list. While “戆度” can be conveyed in a friendly, joking manner, “戆驴” (#8) cannot be — call someone a “戆驴” and it’s most definitely insulting.

BONUS #2: 伊港 (yi gang)

12 Shanghainese Swear Words 🗣 You Need To Know (in 2020-21) (5)

“伊戆” pretty much means “wow”; it shows surprise.

It’s similar to “竟然” (jìngrán) in Mandarin, which means “unexpectedly”, or “to my surprise”.

“伊戆” is not really a curse per-say.

伊戆” is slang, and it’s really soft compared to some of the other entries anyway.

It’s less of a swear and more of a way to express discontent, annoyance, or how weirded out you are by something or someone.

There we have it. 10 super cutting swear words and two bonus entries that don’t hold so much hate!

Shanghainese Swear Words — Other Notes

You’ve probably noticed that “戆” appears a lot.

The character itself means dumb (笨, bèn, Mandarin) and is not inherently bad.

Attached to any of these phrases, however, it becomes a swear of varying offence.

I hope you enjoyed our journey through different Shanghainese Swear Words!

If Shanghainese interests you take a look at Richard’s experience learning Shanghainese below, or why not take it on yourself and start you Shanghainese journey online, or in person at LTL Shanghai.

Shanghainese Swear Words — Quiz

A special thanks to Alex Krasnov of LTL Taiwan and Jason Wang of LTL Shanghai for helping contribute to this blog

Shanghainese Swear Words — FAQs

How do I say “sh*t” in Shanghainese?

册那” (ca na). This means “sh*t”, “crap”, or “oh my god”.

What is an example of a mean Shanghainese swear word?

缺西 (que xi) essentially means “something’s wrong with your head” and is a strong swear word in Shanghainese.

What’s a friendly Shanghainese swear word?

戆度” (gang du) means “dumb”. It can be a swear word, but it also can be used in a friendly manner to poke fun at someone.

What does “戆” (gang) mean?

“戆” means dumb (笨, bèn, Mandarin) and is not inherently bad.

Attached to any of these phrases, however, it becomes a swear of varying offence.

How different is Shanghainese from Mandarin?

In short, very.

The Shanghainese dialect (上海话) is so different from Mandarin (普通话) that for a Mandarin speaker, Shanghainese would sound completely foreign.

Mandarin has the four tones, and while Shanghainese does as well, it’s a lot less standardized.

Do I need to know Shanghainese to live in Shanghai?

You don’t!

While there is an estimated number of almost 14 million Shanghainese speakers, Mandarin is China’s lingua franca and pretty much everyone (especially younger generations) speak it. Some older people don’t, but you definitely don’t need to know Shanghainese to live in Shanghai.

You don’t need to know Mandarin to live in Shanghai either, honestly, though a basic grasp of the language would definitely help!

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12 Shanghainese Swear Words 🗣 You Need To Know (in 2020-21) (6)

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  1. What about greeting people? Is “hi” and “bye” different in Mandarin and Shanghainese?

    1. Hi Maria,

      “Hi” and “bye” in Shanghainese is different from Mandarin! “Hi” is pronounced 侬好 (nong ho) and “bye” is pronounced 再喂 (zei wei).



Is Shanghainese hard to learn? ›

Shanghainese is an incredibly difficult language to learn, even for those who grew up hearing it. There's no specific written language because it is a dialect passed down orally. It has so many distinctions that I didn't get the pronunciation of “ngu” right until I was 10 years old.

How do you say good morning in Shanghainese? ›

There seems to be no standard transliteration system for Shanghainese and the various sources used for this page use different systems.
Useful Shanghainese phrases.
Good morning (Morning greeting)侬早 (nóng zō) 早安(zō ä) 早晨好 (zōlǎng hō)
Good afternoon (Afternoon greeting)
51 more rows

What does the F word mean in China? ›

“F*ck” (the verb) can be directly translated into Chinese as 操 (cào), but honestly that's only for the most extreme of circumstances. A slightly more polite term to use instead is 他妈的 (tā mā de), literally "his mother."

Is Shanghainese harder than Mandarin? ›

On a technical level, Shanghainese is said to be mutually unintelligible with Mandarin or Cantonese. To be more specific, Shanghainese only shares 29% lexical similarity with Standard Chinese, making it quite difficult for speakers outside the Wu language family to fully grasp the dialect.

Is Shanghainese a real language? ›

Shanghainese (上海閒話 [z̥ɑ̃̀héɦɛ̀ɦʊ̀] in Shanghainese), or the Shanghai language (simplified Chinese: 上海话 or 沪语; traditional Chinese: 上海話 or 滬語), is a dialect of Wu Chinese spoken in the city of Shanghai and the surrounding region. It is classified as part of the Sino-Tibetan family of languages.

How do you respond to Xie Xie Ni? ›

xièxiè nǐ. xièxiè nǐ. And to respond, just say: Bù yòng xiè.

Is Shanghainese a dying language? ›

Conflict between locals and non-locals. Despite its status as a dying language, Shanghainese still retains a high level of prestige in Shanghai.

How popular is Shanghainese? ›

Shanghainese belongs a separate group of the Taihu Wu subgroup. With nearly 14 million speakers, Shanghainese is also the largest single form of Wu Chinese.

Can Shanghai people speak English? ›

You should have few problems communicating in basic English at sights that see a lot of foreign travelers. It's possible that Shanghai has the most English speakers of any big city in Chinese mainland.

What language is most spoken in Shanghai? ›

the Shanghai dialect, Mandarin chinese, and English, as the three most commonly spoken languages in Shanghai, have each contributed to shaping Shanghai into the global city it is today.

What does Xi Zao mean? ›

Search with English, Pinyin, or Chinese characters. 洗澡 xǐ zǎo. to bathe to take a shower.

How do you say goodbye in Shanghai? ›

Ways to say bye in Chinese

再见 zàijiàn (Goodbye) 下次聊 xià cì liáo (Talk next time)

What does Bai Mu mean? ›

bái mù (slang) stupid moron.

Is the F word English? ›

It is remotely derived from the Latin futuere and Old German ficken/fucken meaning 'to strike or penetrate', which had the slang meaning to copulate. Eric Partridge, a famous etymologist, said that the German word was related to the Latin words for pugilist, puncture, and prick.

Does the F word exist in Japan? ›

The answer to this is quite simple… it's not common at all! It is not usual in Japan to use swear words or bad language in public. How do you say f*ck in Japanese? There isn't actually a direct translation for f*ck in Japanese but other words can be used for a similar effect such as ku so (くそ).

What is the T word in China? ›

Chinese respelling of the English alphabet
LetterSpelling 1Spelling 2
22 more rows

How old is Shanghainese? ›

Speakers born around the 1920s are classified as speakers of Old Generation Shanghainese, while speakers born after 1965 are taken to speak New Generation Shanghainese.

What is the 5th hardest language to learn? ›

Let's explore the 10 hardest languages for English speakers to learn, and the challenges they deliver:
  1. Mandarin. Mandarin is spoken by 70% of the Chinese population, and is the most spoken language in the world. ...
  2. Arabic. ...
  3. 3. Japanese. ...
  4. Hungarian. ...
  5. Korean. ...
  6. Finnish. ...
  7. Basque. ...
  8. Navajo.
16 Sept 2022

What is the rarest dialect in China? ›

Given its long history and the isolation of the region in which it is spoken, Wenzhounese is so unusual in its phonology that it has the reputation of being the least comprehensible dialect for an average Mandarin speaker.

What race is Shanghai? ›

98.2% of Shanghai's residents are of the Han Chinese ethnicity, while 1.2% belong to various minority groups.

What do you call a Shanghai person? ›

Shanghainese people (Chinese: 上海人; pinyin: Shànghǎirén; Shanghainese: Zaanhe-nyin [zɑ̃̀hɛ́. ɲɪ̀ɲ]) are people of Shanghai Hukou or people who have ancestral roots from Shanghai.

Is Shanghai Japanese or Chinese? ›

Shanghai is China's most-populous city, and the municipality is its most-populous urban area.

What is Bu Yong Xie? ›

不用谢(bú yòng xiè). Literally this means no use thank you. 不(bù) means no, 用(yòng) means to use and 谢(xiè) is from 谢谢(Xiè xie), it means thank you. So literally no use thank you but this comes out to mean there is no need for thanks.

What is bu ke qi? ›

bu ke qi 不客气 means “you're welcome”/“no problem”

How do you respond to Ni chi le ma? ›

Usually when others greet you with “你吃了吗(Nǐ chī le ma)?” you can answer: “吃了, 你呢(chī le, nǐ ne) Yes, how about you?” or “还没有, 你呢(hái méiyǒu, nǐ ne) Not yet, and you?” Then you can move on to any other conversation.

What languages are dying? ›

UNESCO languages by degress of endangeredness
Name in EnglishNumber of speakersDegree of endangerment
Quechua of Cuzco1115000Vulnerable
Eastern Slovak1000000Vulnerable
Ligurian1000000Definitely endangered
142 more rows
15 Apr 2011

What is a dying language called? ›

An endangered language or moribund language is a language that is at risk of disappearing as its speakers die out or shift to speaking other languages. Language loss occurs when the language has no more native speakers and becomes a "dead language".

What's Shanghai famous for? ›

Shanghai is a popular tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as The Bund, City God Temple and Yu Garden as well as the extensive Lujiazui skyline, many skyscrapers, and major museums including the Shanghai Museum and the China Art Museum.

Is Shanghai a rich country? ›

Shanghai's GDP broke the four trillion mark in 2021, reaching a total of RMB 4.32 trillion (US$643.85 billion) in 2021, a year-on-year growth rate of 8.1 percent.

Is living in Shanghai nice? ›

Personal Safety. Shanghai is a very safe place to live as an expat. It was ranked one of the safest cities in China because of its low crime rates. While most crimes are limited to pick-pocketing and minor thefts on public transport, expats are advised to keep to well-lit areas of the city at night.

Which country is best at English? ›


Is China English friendly? ›

Overall, there are many Chinese people who speak very good English, although some are a bit shy in actually using their language skills. But whether you encounter those English speaking locals really depends on the specific location.

Can foreigners live in Shanghai? ›

While it make take you your first few weeks to settle in and adjust to life in big city, expat life in Shanghai is really something special. The city is home to people of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities, many of whom have set up businesses or side hustles catering to their local communities.

Is Shanghai English or Chinese? ›

With a population of 24.89 million as of 2021, Shanghai is the most populous urban area in China with 39,300,000 inhabitants living in the Shanghai metropolitan area, the second most populous city proper in the world (after Chongqing) and the only city in East Asia with a GDP greater than its corresponding capital.

Does Wu mean in Chinese? ›

From the Pinyin romanization of the Mandarin 武 (Wǔ, “war, warrior, warlike”).

Is Shanghainese the same as Chinese? ›

No. Shanghainese is a separate language from Mandarin – i.e. NOT a dialect of Mandarin. They are both Chinese languages but come from different branches. Standard Mandarin is based on the Beijing and northern Mandarin dialects and Shanghainese is a variety of Wu languages.

What does Qiqi mean in China? ›

intimate closely related sorrowful distressed.

What is baobei? ›

The meanings of the word Baobei in Chinese. 1. Treasure, precious things. 2. Baby, little children.

What is Angkong? ›

Ama = Grandma on father's side Angkong = Grandpa on father's side Guama = grandma on mother's side Guakong = grandpa on mother's side.

What China is Hello? ›

(nǐ hǎo) – “Hello” This is the phrase that you are probably most familiar with. It's not commonly used amongst friends as it's awkwardly formal, and its more formal version 您好! (nín hǎo) would be most appropriate for those formal situations.

Why is Shanghai called Demon city? ›

In Japanese, “Mato” equals to “demon city”. The demon sense of the name has its root in the coexistence of 'two different spaces' (i.e., the Concession and the County) in Shanghai. The interpenetration and conflict between these “two different spaces” has made Shanghai a “compatible” city in the beginning.

Why do Chinese say BA? ›

This is a VERY common use of 吧 (ba) , which you'll see a lot in questions as well as statements. This use of 吧 (ba) is used to communicate some level of uncertainty, or to make an educated guess about something. You can use it when you're somewhat certain about something, but not 100% sure.

What does bai Wu Jin mean? ›

百無禁忌 bǎi wú jìn jì all taboos are off (idiom); anything goes nothing is taboo.

What does Mu Cheng mean? ›

mu cheng : to make eyes, t... : mù chéng | Definition | Mandarin Chinese Pinyin English Dictionary | Yabla Chinese.

What does Bai Cai mean in Chinese? ›

While the cabbage might seem humble, in Chinese culture it actually represents prosperity. That's because its name — “bai cai” or white vegetable — is a pun for “100 wealth.”

What is Shanghai slang for? ›

shanghai Add to list Share. To shanghai someone is to kidnap or trick them into working for you. The traditional way to shanghai someone is to drug him and put him on a ship. When the person wakes up, he better get to work. This term popped up in the 19th century.

What is Ta Ma? ›

他媽 tā mā (taboo curse) darned damn it!

What does WAP mean from a guy? ›

What does WAP mean? WAP is a slang acronym that stands for wet-ass pussy. The acronym was created and popularized by hip-hop artist Cardi B in her hit August 2020 single “WAP.”

What does Oi mean in China? ›

Oi is the Hainanese transliteration of a Chinese surname meaning: yellow, to fall through.

What is a Shanghai woman? ›

They are seen to be smart, modern, stylish, elegant, carefree and meticulous, almost obsessive, about every detail of their dresses and accessories. One signatory word to distinguish a Shanghai woman is dia, which refers to one who talks and acts in so overly gentlely that others can't resist being charmed or awed.

Is Shanghai English friendly? ›

You should have few problems communicating in basic English at sights that see a lot of foreign travelers. It's possible that Shanghai has the most English speakers of any big city in Chinese mainland.

What does Qu Ni De mean in English? ›

Search with English, Pinyin, or Chinese characters. 去你的 qù nǐ de. Get along with you!

What does a la ma mean in Chinese? ›

'Ma la' comes from two Chinese characters meaning, respectively, 'numbing' 麻 and 'spicy (hot)' 辣 and describes the sensation in the mouth the dish creates.

What is Ma Ti in Chinese? ›

The Chinese water chestnut plant grows in shallow water. It is a perennial reed-like plant, with long and thin hollow leaves. The edible part is the corm, which develops underwater. The corms look like horses' hooves, hence its Chinese name ma ti, “horses' hooves” in Chinese.

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