In their never ending quest to render print dictionaries useless and turn cursor translators like Youdao Dictionary into even more sluggish beasts, netizens have created thousands of trendy character substitutions. Here are a few that appear in words you’ve probably encountered before.

壕

Háo

Háo (壕) has the original meaning of ditch, but its homonym pronunciation made it a favorite for people looking to dress up the term tǔháo (土豪).

The new combination of 土壕 has become so popular that the old way of writing it may make you sound dangerously out of the loop.

There is also the equivalent háojiě (壕姐) to describe rich women.

狗

Gǒu

We all know that gǒu (狗) means dog. But in addition, gǒu can be used as a demeaning term for poor or tough men.

Singles struggling in the big city might refer to themselves as “dānshēn gǒu” (单身狗), where dānshēn means single. Graduates call themselves “dàsì gǒu” (大四狗), where dàsì means an academic senior.

What kind of gǒu are you?

哒 (1)

Dā (哒) is a favorite of female text messengers, especially over WeChat or Weibo. The character was originally an onomatopoeia to stand in for the pop of a gun.

Today, girls link dā with anything cute. From měiměidā (美美哒) meaning beauty, to méngméngdā (萌萌哒) meaning lovely, to bàngbàngdā (棒棒哒) meaning excellence.

Qu Chaonan

About Qu Chaonan

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Qu Chaonan is a typical Pisces who loves cute things. She's tone-deaf but loves music – especially old songs. Her ideal day is one spent in her pajamas, lying on her bed and watching movies.

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