35 Chinese Nicknames For Lovers, Friends, And Strangers

man giving chinese nicknames for girlfriend

When you visit China, you will notice that it is common to call people by a nickname. However, many Chinese nicknames may not sound familiar to you and even seem strange. So let’s take a closer look at some patterns and understand how a person gets a moniker in the first place so you can give your Chinese friend or loved one their very own nickname.

Chinese nicknames for your significant other

Be it your wife, girlfriend, husband, or boyfriend, many couples find giving each other fun nicknames cute and romantic. While there are gender-specific nicknames for your female or male partner, here are some gender-neutral names to call your darling that will help you express your love.

1. 亲爱的 – Qīn’ài de

One of the most common Chinese nicknames that Chinese couples use for their significant other is 亲爱的 qīn’ài de. It is used the same way as the English term “darling” or “dearest.” You can call your loved one 亲爱的 regardless of gender, and the term is used not only by dating couples but also by married couples.

2. 宝贝 – Bǎo bèi

The nickname 宝贝 bǎo bèi literally means “treasure” or “precious thing,” and by calling your other half 宝贝, it shows just how much they mean to you and that you value them. In terms of tone and cultural context, 宝贝 is a bit more cutesy than 亲爱的 qīn’ài de. So if you are looking for an English equivalent, “baby” or “sweetie” might be as close as you can get.

young couple in love hugging

3. 亲 – Qīn

The word 亲 qīn is the shortened version of 亲爱的 qīn’ài de. It is very popular for couples to use, especially on social media. It has a bit of a slang context to it, and the closest English equivalent would be something along the lines of someone’s “bae” or their “boo.”

4. 亲亲 – Qīn qīn

亲亲 qīn qīn is a variation of 亲爱的 qīn’ài de and means “dear one.” However, this Chinese nickname is extra cute because 亲亲 also means “kiss” in Chinese. Younger couples more often use this nickname. However, since the context is a bit more flirtatious and bubbly, sometimes older couples will use it as a nod to their youth.

5. 老相好 – Lǎo xiàng hǎo

The phrase 老相好 lǎo xiàng hǎo, on the other hand, is a Chinese nickname often used by the older generation. However, some young generation Chinese couples will ironically call each other 老相好. It is similar to English when some call their significant other “the old ball and chain.”

couple snuggling in bed

Chinese nicknames for a boyfriend

There are many cute Chinese nicknames for boyfriends or one’s husband that, while asserting a masculine nuance, still express one’s love and care in a romantic sense. At times he may act big, strong, and brave, but after hearing these Chinese nicknames, his heart will surely melt.

1. 先生 – Xiān shēng

In Chinese, 先生 xiān shēng is a very polite and casual way to refer to a guy and can mean something like “mister” or “gentleman.” Despite its formal stiffness, many women in China still choose to call their special boy 先生 because it has a certain elegance to it, so it can be appropriate for more formal or professional settings.

2. 哥哥 – Gēgē

In many Western cultures, referring to a guy you are dating as your “older brother” or 哥哥 gēgē might feel a little uncomfortable. But in China, it is normal for a Chinese girl to call her boyfriend that way. This is a typical Chinese nickname for guys. Culturally, Chinese people use words describing family members to insinuate that the person is as close as family. So if you think about it, it’s actually quite sweet.

However, while a girl can call an older guy she is dating 哥哥 gēgē, referring to a younger guy she is seeing as a “younger brother,” or 弟弟 dìdi might sound a bit awkward.

smiling chinese woman hugging her boyfriend

3. 男神 – Nán shén

The word 男神 nán shén is made from the Chinese characters 男, male, and 神, god. When a girl calls her boyfriend a “male god,” she is playfully stroking his ego and complimenting him simultaneously. One example of when you might call your boyfriend 男神 is when he is playing online video games and scores a big win. Uninterested in his activity but not looking to sour his achievement, she might say something like, “Wow! 男神, no one is as awesome as you!”

4. 老公 – Lǎo gōng

While it may seem a bit premature, in Mainland China, unmarried women sometimes refer to their boyfriend as 老公 lǎo gōng or “husband.” Although they won’t do this right off the bat, after dating for some time and getting comfortable with one another, you may start hearing a girlfriend call her boyfriend 老公 before he even proposes to her.

5. 大野猪 – Dà yězhū

Not all Chinese nicknames sound flattering. For example, the meaning of 大野猪 dà yězhū is “big wild boar,” which, although it sounds like an insult, can be used by one’s girlfriend in a very affectionate manner. Boars are huge, strong, reckless, and impulsive creatures. So when a girlfriend calls her boyfriend 大野猪, it’s like calling him a “big old lug.” Is he the sharpest crayon in the knife drawer? Not by a long shot! But for what it’s worth, it makes him all the more loveable despite his faults.

young playful couple at home

Chinese nicknames for a girlfriend

Many lovely Chinese nicknames for a girlfriend convey love and adoration. While in English, the best way to express this sense of care and familiarity is by calling your girlfriend or wife “baby” or “babe.” However, if you try translating these phrases into Chinese, a native speaker might look at you strangely. In the worst-case scenario, she could even get offended. So here are the most popular Chinese nicknames for a girlfriend that won’t get you in trouble.

1. 太太 – Tàitài

The word 太太 tàitài means “wife” in Chinese. When you tag it onto someone’s name (for example calling a woman 林太太), it is a term of respectful endearment. You can use it to refer to either your female companion or any married lady. However, it is a little uncommon to call your girlfriend 太太 before you are officially married unless you do it as a joke.

2. 妹妹 – Mèimei

Just like when a girl calls her boyfriend 哥哥 gēgē or “older brother,” boys in China will reciprocate by calling their girlfriend 妹妹 mèimei or “little sister.” Again, this invokes the sense of a close family-like relationship or bond between the brother and sister. Historically it stems from the place one held in society and one’s family according to Confucian values in ancient China.

young asian couple drinking coffee

3. 小公举 – Xiǎo gōng jǔ

While there hasn’t been a royal family or an emperor in China since the Qing dynasty, men still call their girlfriends 小公举 xiǎo gōng jǔ or “little princess.” This nickname implies that none are as regal as their special girl. While there are many cute Chinese nicknames for girls, this one conveys a strong sense of adoration. Sometimes, it can be used in a silly manner, such as saying “Yes, my little princess!” when your girlfriend asks you for a favor.

4. 老婆 – Lǎo pó

In Mandarin Chinese, when women call their boyfriends or husbands 老公 lǎo gōng, men will often refer to their girlfriends or wives as 老婆 lǎo pó. The word literally means “old woman” but most often will be used to call one’s wife regardless of her age. Just like 老公, occasionally, couples that are not yet married will still use this phrase, which can have a similar connotation to the English pet name “wifey.”

5. 妞妞 – Niū niū

The word 妞妞 niū niū is one of many cute nicknames in Chinese that emphasizes the girl’s young age and innocence. When translated, the meaning of 妞妞 is “little girl.” However, Chinese people will use it much the same way Westerners use the nickname “baby” or “babe.” While it may sound a bit creepy for a guy to refer to an adult lady in this way, culturally in China, it is seen as cute and not weird.

man giving flowers to a chinese woman

Chinese nicknames for close friends

One of the best ways to learn Chinese is through conversation and practice with close friends. Both kids and adults will give their closest pals or best friends a Chinese nickname with deep meaning as a sign of endearment to commemorate their bond. Here are some monikers you can use instead of your buddy’s full name to show that your friendship is one of a kind.

1. 阿 – Ā

Combining the character 阿 ā with someone’s given name is one way you can call your close friends in Chinese. For example, if your friend’s name is 李明 Lǐ Míng, some of his buddies might call him 阿明 Ā Ming. It doesn’t mean anything in particular. It just sounds nice as a nickname, so family members or friends will often use it, especially if someone’s name is short.

2. 小 – Xiǎo

The word 小 xiǎo means “small” in Chinese, so when you tag it onto someone’s first name, it denotes something similar to the English “little.” It is commonly used when two people have the same name in Chinese. For example, let’s say that there are two people whose Chinese name is 明 Míng in your friend group. The youngest or physically most petite person will likely end up being called 小明 Xiǎo Míng to help differentiate them from the other.

two chinese friends walking in the city

3. 大 – Dà

The partner in crime to 小 xiǎo would be 大 dà, which means “big” in Chinese. Just like 小, to use this character as part of a nickname, you first need to drop the surname and add it to the first name. If you have a group of friends with a 小明 Xiǎo Míng, it’s more than likely that there is also a 大明 Dà Míng in it. However, there might be an exception if one of your friends is extremely tall or physically big. In that case, their nickname might end up as 大 plus their first name, referring to their large stature.

4. 胖 – Pàng

While in many western countries, being called fat is certainly not a compliment and is often considered very disrespectful, in China, being called a “little fatty” by a close friend or family member is seen as a term of affection and endearment. Historically in China, being fat was considered a good thing because it meant you had enough to eat and were looking relatively healthy. But, of course, today’s beauty trends are different than they were back then. However, to call someone who is a little on the heavy side 胖 pàng with their given name is not seen as rude but, in fact, endearing.

5. 傻瓜 – Shǎguā

Calling your buddy 傻瓜 shǎguā or “stupid melon” may sound harsh, but close friends often use insults in Chinese as a sign of intimacy. Another example is when couples call each other 笨蛋 bèndàn or a”dumb egg.”

The idea is that no matter how bad you talk about each other, you both know that you are just being silly and that the insults are harmless fun among friends. In English, this would be like calling your friend an “idiot” or a “dummy” when they mess up, or you act like a fool.

However, you need to be careful because if you call your mom or dad this term by mistake, you might find yourself in a new world of trouble!

chinese guys chatting in a cafe

Cool Chinese nicknames

Speaking Chinese is one thing, but being able to talk in a cool, natural, and flawless way like a native speaker will put you in a class of your own. Using trendy or hip Chinese terms and words to describe the people in your life is a great way to look cool and flaunt your intelligence. It will also help you stand out as a star Mandarin student and sound as if Chinese is your native tongue.

1. 帅哥 – Shuàigē

The phrase 帅哥 shuàigē is a compliment and a common Chinese nickname that literally means “handsome guy.” It is often used when you don’t know someone’s name, or it would be inappropriate to ask. One example would be in a restaurant where waiters are frequently called 帅哥 instead of their name. Another example is if a younger-looking guy drops something such as his wallet, and you need to call out to him to get his attention.

2. 小姐 – Xiǎojiě

Just like 帅哥 shuàigē, if you don’t know a younger woman’s name, shouting out 小姐 should be enough to get her attention. The phrase 小姐 xiǎojiě translates as “little sister” but can refer to any lady you don’t know the name of. Waitresses are often called 小姐 when customers you don’t know them well enough to call them by their real names but still would like to show respect.

chinese waitress serving customer in a cafe

3. 老板 – Lǎobǎn

The meaning of the word 老板 lǎobǎn is “boss.” Many Chinese people will use this word to refer to their actual boss and other individuals they respect. One person who should command such a title would be a shop owner. Since using someone’s full name or surname would be too intimate for a client-business relationship, customers will typically call shopowners 老板. However, that being said, as with many other Chinese nicknames, often the tone is sarcastic and used in a joking manner. For example, one might call their pet 老板 if it is overly pushy or needy.

4. 师傅 – Shīfu

The word 师傅 shīfu means “master” in Chinese. It is very similar to 老板 lǎobǎn. If you’ve ever done kungfu, this term should sound familiar to you as 师傅 is what you would call your kungfu master in Mandarin. Outside the dojo, this word is often used when talking to taxi drivers or any older man around the age where he could be a grandpa. The idea is that due to his age, he is a “master” of life and hence has the wisdom that you as a young person can learn from.

5. 心肝 – Xīngān

The first character in the phrase 心肝 xīngān is 心 “heart,” and the second character is 肝 “liver,” so what could be the meaning of the Chinese nickname “heart and liver”? Calling someone your 心肝 means that the person is so important to you that they are like your two most vital organs, and without them, you would not be able to survive. The poetic nature of this Chinese nickname is beautiful in a strange sense and only reserved for the closest of friends.

chinese female friends taking selfie

Funny Chinese nicknames

While many funny Chinese words make for excellent monikers, funny nicknames will refer to your most prominent traits and compare them to something popular or well-known. Although some of these popular nicknames may seem mean-spirited or harsh, know that culturally they are in good spirit and are a sign of endearment between pals.

1. 冰美人 – Bīng měirén

A beautiful but cold and distant woman is called 冰美人 bīng měirén or “ice beauty” in Chinese. It is an example of a nickname based on one of the many Chinese archetypes. A girl whose nickname is 冰美人 would be a 10/10 when it comes to looks, yet when a guy asks her out on a date, she will coldly reject him.

2. 叶良辰 – Yè liángchén

The 叶良辰 yè liángchén Chinese nickname is related to a post that went viral on Weibo in 2015. It was a screenshot of a chat where a user named 叶良辰 made several over-the-top arrogant remarks to a girl. They were so far out and outrageous that the whole thing became a Chinese meme. To this day, 叶良辰 is still used as a funny nickname for an arrogant or big-headed person, and it is now part of the slang vernacular.

arrogant asian man

3. 爸宝 – Bà bǎo

The phrase 爸宝 bà bǎo translates as “daddy’s big treasure.” It refers to girls who are really intimately close with their dads. The Engish equivalent might be “daddy’s girl.” While being close with your family isn’t bad, a 爸宝 does have some negative connotations, such as being spoiled or entitled. On the other hand, 妈宝 mā bǎo or “mommy’s treasure” is used for boys who are a bit too close to their mom and the inference is equally as bad.

4. 独眼龙 – Dúyǎnlóng

The phrase 独眼龙 dúyǎnlóng sounds very cool as a nickname as it translates to “one-eyed dragon.” However, this is one of those Chinese terms with a double meaning. It has nothing to do with dragons. In fact, it describes a person who has recently had double-eyelid surgery and must wear an eyepatch during the recovery. These types of double-eyelid surgeries in China are highly prevalent. They are typically done one eye at a time, so an eyepatch is needed.

5. 唐僧 – Tángsēng

Native Chinese speakers call a person who talks too much 唐僧 tángsēng, which is the name of a famous monk during the Tang Dynasty. Also called Xuanzang, this Buddhist monk was known for traveling to and from India. He was carrying the teachings of the Buddha and telling them to anyone who would listen. Despite being related to a well-respected historical figure, this expression is now used to compare people who are annoying and over-talkative to the monk spreading his Buddhist teachings.

young people chatting

Chinese nicknames for kids

Like in any other country, in China, the way parents name a baby says a lot about their hopes and dreams for their future. From the characters used in the child’s name to all the nicknames that parents call their kids as they grow up, it all has many cultural meanings to families. These are some popular Chinese nicknames for kids that parents would use to express their love.

1. 儿 – Er

One way Chinese parents or grandparents might show affection for their beloved kids is by attaching the suffixer to the end of their name. So, for example, if a child’s name is 诗颖 Shi Ying, then their nickname might be 诗颖儿 Shi Ying Er. While it doesn’t mean anything in particular per se, the added 儿 makes for a cute-sounding nickname with a loving touch.

2. 葡萄 – Pútáo

The word 葡萄 pútáo or “grape” is one of several common fruit nicknames that parents give their children. It implies that their child is sweet, round, and cute, like a grape. Some more examples of fruit nicknames would be 苹果 píng guǒ (apple), 橙子 chéng zi (orange), or even táo zi 桃子 (peach).

baby swimming in a tub

3. 糯米 – Nuòmǐ

Chinese families sometimes call their children 糯米 nuòmǐ, which means “glutinous rice.” This denotes good wishes for the child, as glutinous rice is used to honor happiness, health, prosperity, and good fortune in Chinese tradition. This nickname is usually used only for girls. It has a cute nuance and is said to ward off evil spirits.

4. 笑笑 – Xiào xiào

Chinese people will often repeat characters to make a Chinese nickname. The phrase 笑笑 xiào xiào is a common one that literally means “smile smile” or “laugh laugh.” When native speakers use a word two times in a row to describe something, such as 红红的 hóng hóng de (red) or tián tián de 甜甜的 (sweet), it emphasizes the trait being described. So when parents call their kids 笑笑, it expresses how happy and smiley their little bundle of joy is.

5. 可乐 – Kělè

The Chinese nickname 可乐 kělè translates as “cola,” but there is a double meaning laced in there. Just like 葡萄 pútáo, one way that you can look at this nickname is that you are calling your kid sweet. However, if you look at the characters that make up 可乐, you have the Chinese character 可 (cute) and the character 乐 (happy). By highlighting these characteristics, parents are projecting their good wishes onto their children in the hope that this is what they will become.

The rules for giving nicknames to Chinese people are not set in stone. So when you want to come up with a new nickname for someone you know, don’t be afraid to be creative and give them a funny one. As you spend time learning the Chinese language and picking up new Chinese words and phrases, the nicknames you give will reflect how well you know the culture and how close you are to the Chinese people in your life.

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