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)


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)


“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)


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)


“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 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)


“shǔyīshǔ hǎoláiwù zuànshí wánglǎowǔ

“Let’s count Hollywood’s eligible bachelors

Example 7)


“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!

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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.


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