New Internet Slang: Gěilì 给力

Through my new two new wēibó-s 微博 (pzAlbert and pzEnglish, NOTE: you have to be a member of sina or weibo to view them) I’ve been exposed to some interesting new language. The most chīxiāng 吃香 of which at the moment seems to be:

  • Gěilì 给力 [give strength]

I’ve asked for usage examples and it seems to mean:

  1. lìhai 厉害 (awesome)
  2. jiāyóu 加油 (in the cheering sense)
  3. hǎo

For example:

  1. tài gěilì a! 你太给力了! = You’re so awesome!
  2. nǐ xiǎng zuò ma? gěilì gěilì! 你想作吗? 给力给力! = You want to do that? Go for it!
  3. 140 zì tài bù gěilì le. 140字太不给力了. = ( only allowing 140 characters per post is so bad.

It’s also morphed into some bizarre Chinglish words:

  • geilivable” or “gelivable” (the latter gets more than twice as many google results even though the former is “correct” pinyin)
  • ungeilivable” or “ungelivable

Apparently, “geilivable” means “incredible” or “excellent.” But “ungeilivable” is bad. According to an article at Beijing Today earlier this month, “geilivable” has even made it into the news.

I’ve also heard “gěilì” and “geilivable” spoken by my students which means it’s not only confined to online communication.

See also this Xinhua article about new internet slang. The only other internet slang from that article that I’ve heard or seen is “niubility” (from niúbī 牛屄), but that doesn’t mean anything. I’m ungeilivably out of touch with the internet slang world.

Anyone else heard this or any other new slang we should know about?

10 Replies to “New Internet Slang: Gěilì 给力”

  1. “Awesome”… although its somewhat amazing how much chinese people are into this word… like when you were 9 years old and realized just how versatile the word “cool” was… Chinese people actually get visibly excited when they use this word, or even talk about it…

  2. Albert, I’m surprised that you only found out about the word geili now. It’s been around for a while already. Although I don’t think very long either. It spread extremely quick and suddenly everybody was using it. I’ve even seen it used in several advertisments, for example on the back of a bus! I’ve never heard geilivable yet though. Thanks for sharing.

  3. 给力 has just been submitted to the review queue of CC-CEDICT. Here are some of the editors’ comments so far:

    Urban Dictionary ~ gelivable = adj. A Chinglish word, be able to excite, make someone feel cheerful. ge- in Chinese means give, li- means power, strength or energy.

    Never heard of “gelivable” before, I must say)

    Re “gelivable” see also —

    ” “给力” means astonishing, powerful, amazing ” (from the yahoo reference)

    “describes the gap between reality and the ideal. If they are the same, we can say ‘gelivable’; if not, we can say ‘ungelivable’ ”

    ” Not to be outdone, the French are saying très guélile, or ‘so cool!’ ”

    —- previous 2 quotes from “It’s gelivable! The whole world’s speaking Chinese” —-

    “it was the word’s antonym “bugeili” – meaning dull or boring – that first grabbed wider public attention after it appeared online in May in an episode of a Chinese-dubbed Japanese comic animation”

    — from The rise of Net buzzword ‘gelivable’ —-

    Ibid. ~ “Geili” featured in a headline on the front page of People’s Daily on Wednesday. While the meaning was slightly different, in the newspaper it meant “empower,” millions of netizens were delighted and surprised to see it used by the Party newspaper.

    Seems this word is only about one year old.

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  5. Take a look at for a long list of internet slang with definitions and daily updates with numerous examples that are displayed in English but viewable in Chinese if you mouseover.

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  7. I’m Chinese.In fact niúbī means ‘strong'(‘Qiang’ )! Because we common speak to a man ‘ni hen niú'(你很牛).It’s means that he like a bull.So many young say ‘niú’ or ‘niúbī’.
    niú = strong. (A bull is very strong.)
    Can you understand?

    ps:We don’t like laowai say Chinglish!.In fact we don’t like Chinglish.It’s so bad and misleading.

  8. I can never seem to keep the “geilivable” “ungeilivable” straight because the ‘positive’ in English is ‘unbelievable’ whereas the ‘bad/neutral’ coulbe ‘believable’. Always messes me up. There’s also a good ‘Chinese internet slang’ dictionary over on ChinaSmack, details below.
    Or wikipedia slang –

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