What Emoticons are Popular in China?

What Emoticons are Popular in China?

Do you use emoticons when you chat with your friends online? What emoticon do you like to use the most?
Emoticon in Chinese is called 表情符号 [biǎo qíng fú hào], or just 表情 [biǎo qíng] for short. You can ask your Chinese friends like this:

Recently, China's biggest social network website Tencent QQ published 2015 year's emoticon usage statistics. Let's take a look at what emoticons Chinese netizens like to use.

Popular emoticons in China

  • No.1 呲牙/龇牙 [zī yá] – Grinning Face
    The grinning face emoticon symbolizes “courteous” or “cute”, and is commonly used by netizens around the country for greeting each other.

  • No.2 愤怒 [fèn nù] – Angry Face
    The angry face is popular among young users, and is reportedly used the most frequently on September 1st. This is because that is the day when Chinese school starts after summer vacation. Everyone wants to keep having summer vacation and not go to back school.

  • No.3 亲亲 [qīn qīn] – Kissing Face
    As you might guess, the kissing face is the favorite emoticon for couples.

  • No.4 偷笑 [tōu xiào] – Chuckle Face

  • No.5 敲打 [qiāo dǎ] – Punching Face

  • No.6 可怜 [kě lián] – Pitiful Face

  • No.7 抠鼻 [kōu bí] – Nose Picking
    The nose picking emoticon symbolizes “bored”, “indifferent”, or “disagreeing”. Some netizens claim that this usage data is inaccurate and that the nose picking emoticon is actually the one most used by Chinese netizens. Of course, many netizens also think the nose picking emoticon is disgusting and do not like to use it.

  • No.8 发呆 [fā dāi] – Absent-Minded Face

  • No.9 再见 [zài jiàn] – Goodbye Face

  • No.10 吓 [xià] – Scary Face

According to the gender difference data, boys are more likely to use the 骚 [sāo](acting cool)emoticon, while girls like to use 萌 [méng](cute, Moe).

Emoticon usage statistics

There is also a set of very popular chat stamps which use the two characters Lilei and Hanmeimei “李雷和韩梅梅 [lǐ léi hé hán méi méi]. Lilei and Hanmeimei are characters from the junior high school English textbook in China, so the Chinese are very familiar with them.

Lilei and Hanmeimei

These stamps contain funny phrases with deliberately mistaken translations and Chinglish. For example, 不要熬夜 [bú yào áo yè] (Do not stay up late)is translated into “Do not Oh Yeah” because 熬夜 in Chinese sounds similar to the English “Oh Yeah”.

Did you enjoy these Chinese emoticons?

This is the accompanying blog post for our upper intermediate lesson “Having A Mistress“.

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