advanced-chinese-slang-leftover-girls-diamond-wangs

Chinese Slang: “Leftover Girls” and “Diamond Wangs”

We couldn’t make this up if we tried.

A new Chinese slang word has emerged in recent years that literally means “leftover girls.” It’s used to describe urban women who enjoy a high level of education, income, IQ, and have the looks to boot…. but have high standards when it comes to the opposite sex, making them unable to meet their ideal mate (and not as young as when they started out).


 
The word is 剩女 (shèng nǚ), which literally means “leftover girls”:

剩 (shèng): to be left over (eg. 剩下的 – shèngxià de – that which has been left over)

女(nǚ): female (eg. 女孩子 – nǚháizi – girl)

Observing the word “剩女 (shèng nǚ)” in the wild gives us a great glimpse into Chinese society. And as you can see, it’s a totally mainstream word now:

Example 1)

剩女必看:拥有10种特质,男人绝对娶你回家

shèngnǚ bìkān: yōngyǒu 10 zhǒng tèzhì, nánrén juéduì qǔ nǐ huíjiā”

Leftover girls must read this: If you have these 10 characteristics, guys will definitely marry you and take you home”

Example 2)

唯恐成为剩女,香港三成女性赶结婚

“wéikǒng chéngwéi shèngnǚ, xiānggǎng sān chéng nǚxìng gǎn jiéhūn”

“For fear of becoming leftover girls, 30% of Hong Kong’s women hurry to get married”

Example 3)

剩男剩女感叹黄金周变相亲周,称比上班还累

shèngnán shèngnǚ gǎntàn huángjīn zhōu biàn xiāngqīn zhōu, chēng bǐ shàngbān hái lèi”

Leftover guys and girls sigh, saying that Golden Week has become Blind Date Week, and  is more tiring than going to work”

Example 4)

宁当剩女也不结婚的20个怪理由

“níng dānɡ shèngnǚ yě bù jiéhūn de 20 gè guài lǐyóu”

“20 strange reasons why (women) prefer being “leftover girls” to getting married”

Example 5)

2008年底,已加入剩女行列的她选择在网上觅知音

“2008 niándǐ, yǐ jiārù shèngnǚ hángliè de tā xuǎnzé zài wǎng shàng mì zhīyīn”

“At the end of 2008, she – who had already entered the ranks of the “leftover girls” – chose to go online to find a friend who could listen to her”

In case the guys are feeling left out, we also have a word for you (in addition to 剩男, which you‘ve seen above): 钻石王老五  (zuànshí wánglǎowǔ). 

钻石王老五  (zuànshí wánglǎowǔ) basically means eligible bachelor, but with an extra emphasis on rich. Literally, it means “diamond” and “fifth child of Wang,” the latter meaning that the person is from a family of social standing.

Example 6)

数一数好莱坞钻石王老五

“shǔyīshǔ hǎoláiwù zuànshí wánglǎowǔ

“Let’s count Hollywood’s eligible bachelors

Example 7)

找到一位温柔又多金的钻石王老五谈何容易呢

“zhǎodào yī wèi wēnróu yòu duōjīn de zuànshí wánglǎowǔ tánhéróngyì ne”

“Finding a gentle and wealthy eligible bachelor is easier said than done”

Any questions about the word? Any thoughts on the cultural phenomenon? Look forward to hearing from you!

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.

Experience Chinese immersion online!

4 Responses to Chinese Slang: “Leftover Girls” and “Diamond Wangs”

  1. 天游仔 January 23, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    I’ll throw another term into the pot: 败犬。It’s basically the same meaning as 剩女,but a little more harsh. 失败的败,and 犬 meaning dog. It’s from Japanese meaning the dogs that have lost a race, but it has now also come to refer to women not married off before thirty.

    • Alan January 23, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

      Thanks, that’s a good one! Not sure which one sounds worse – they both sound pretty bad to me.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Hao Hao Report - October 20, 2011

    Someone thinks this story is fantastic…

    This story was submitted to Hao Hao Report – a collection of China’s best stories and blog posts. If you like this story, be sure to go vote for it….

  2. Recommended Reading on China and Learning Chinese - October 22, 2011

    […] We covered the word for this in Chinese Slang 101: “Leftover Girls” and “Diamond Wangs”. […]