Home Chinese buzzwords Chinese words about eat 吃

Chinese words about eat 吃


Chinese value food so much that usually, when meeting someone, besides the usual “你好吗?” they’ll ask “吃了吗?”

Besides the obvious “吃饭” here’s a list of top used phrases with 吃:

1. 吃苦 (chī kǔ): to bear hardships

This phrase is used frequently in Chinese. Though literally meaning to “eat bitterness,” it’s meaning is to be able to endure trying times. I’ve often heard parents reprimand their children and finish with a “你一点都不会吃苦.” It means that they can’t or don’t know how to bear hardships.


“nǐ men yào zuò hào chī kǔ de zhǔn bèi”
“You all need to be prepared to work hard“


2. 吃香 (chī xiāng): popular

Literally, this means to eat something fragrant or delicious. It’s used mostly to describe something that popular with a slight implication that whatever the something is, it has an advantage over the other products.


“wèi hé jìn kǒu guǒ zhī hái néng zhè me chī xiāng”
“Why is it that imported juice is so popular“


3. 吃惊 (chī jīng): the be surprised

Not only can you eat bitterness and fragrant food, but also shock! Literally, 吃惊 translates into “eating shock” in English. However, it just means to be surprised and can be used in any situation where there’s an unexpected result that surprises you.


“tā tuī chū de sù dù rú cǐ zhī kuài, ràng wǒ gǎn dào chī jīng”
“ It launched so fast that I made me feel surprised“


4. 吃亏 (chī kuī): to be at a disadvantage

The Chinese phrase this with the literal translation being to “eat loss.” 亏 is to lack something. It is used in situations where you’re at a disadvantage. For example, if I were in China and didn’t know how to bargain when I was at a market, then I would definitely 吃亏 because I’d end up paying a lot more than I should.


“wǒ huì bǎ gèng duō de lì rùn ràng gěi kè hù, kàn qǐ lái shì chī kuī le”
“I will put more of the profits towards the customers, but it looks like it would be a disadvantage to do so ”


5. 吃力 (chī lì): exhausting; difficult

Literally meaning to “eat strength,” it would make sense that if you eat up your strength, you’d be exhausted. This phrase means that it would be difficult or tough for you. For example, lifting a 40lb. box for a 5 year old girl would be very 吃力.


“ràng dà izhe 300 dù lǎo huā jìng de chá ixìng dōng, zuò qǐ lái hěn chī lì“
“To Chai Xingdong who wears – 3.0 prescription glasses, doing it is tough“


The action of eating can be found throughout the Chinese language but doesn’t literally mean someone eating food, but perhaps experiencing surprise or being popular.

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