For those of you who’ve ever wondered why Chinese kids snicker up their sleeves when you say “250,” this post will illuminate the numerous numerical euphemisms in Chinese. You’ll also see why phone numbers with a lot of 8s are more expensive than phone numbers chock-full of 4s.
88 bā bā 八八 ~ bye bye*
9 roses = eternal love
*I always wondered why they don’t use 800 bā bǎi, which sounds EXACTLY like “buh bye” if said quickly. I guess they prefer 2 digits.
**Guangdong Province only?
More Number Idioms
These don’t seem to come from acoustic similarities to other words.
3/8 sān bā 三八 (March 8th) = Stupid/foolish woman
250 èr bǎi wǔ 二百五 = stupid
Bus #11 e.g. “Take bus #11” dā shíyì lù chē 搭一路车 = to walk somewhere
The two 1s are supposed to be your legs. I’ve also heard this called yāo yāo lù 幺幺路.
211 college/degree = a good college or a degree from a reputable college
I’ve seen someone write this out, but I can’t seem to imagine it here on the computer screen. You write the 1 and 2 somehow to make the two sides of the box and the 8 is supposed to be that 才 filler material somehow. If anyone has a scan or something of this that might help. Otherwise, forget this one.
Anyone have any other number slang to add to this list? It seems like 1314 and 168 are supposed to mean something but I can’t remember what.