body parts in chinese

Body Parts in Chinese: A Holistic List of Over 60 Essential Body-related Words

Remember when learning body parts was as simple as singing, “head, shoulders, knees and toes?”

Songs are extremely useful when it comes to learning a language. I only wish that my teacher had used the Chinese version of the song to drill those terms into my head back when I was learning Mandarin.

Ah well, what’s done is done.

If you’re a beginner in Mandarin, the song in Chinese is great for learning the basic body parts. But if you’re ready to learn the rest of your body, maybe venture into internal body parts, you’re in the right place.
 


 

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Why You Need to Know Body Parts in Chinese

To describe your aches and pains when you’re at the hospital

Let’s face it. It’s kind of silly having to point out where it hurts, especially as an adult.

It’s also quite tedious communicating via translation apps; so why not make it easier for everyone and learn the terms? In addition to learning some Chinese medical terms, knowing the different parts of the body in Chinese just makes sense in case you ever have a medical emergency or need to visit a doctor in a Mandarin-speaking destination.

To be specific when you’re at the spa

It’s easy to point to your hands or feet when you want a mani or pedi. But let’s say you want to get a full body massage, perhaps avoiding your calves or feet because of an injury, sensitivity or some other reason.

It’d be great if you could explain everything in Chinese. However, just knowing how to say the bare minimum, which would be “I don’t want…” or 不要 (bùyào) + said body part in Chinese, indicates enough to the native speaking staff so they can tailor spa services according to your needs.

To get your flirt on

You can refer to your significant other using terms of endearment like 老婆 (o — wifey), call your crush  (shuài — handsome), but feel free to amp up your flirting by complimenting certain body parts, without being creepy, of course.

You can say something like 你的眼睛很美。 (nǐ de yǎnjīng hěn měi.) — Your eyes are so beautiful.

To speak and understand slang

Think about all the body idioms we have in English.

Hot head. Cold shoulder. A sight for sore eyes. Play it by ear. Putting your foot in your mouth.

There’s a whole list of body part-related slang in the English language, and it’s no different in Mandarin, or any other language, for that matter.

For example, if there’s someone who always asks others for information because they’re too lazy to look it up themselves, you might call them a 伸手党 (shēnshǒu dǎng), literally meaning “hand out party.”

Another example of body slang would be 玻璃心 (bō li xīn) which translates to “glass heart,” referring to someone who’s overly sensitive about criticism and very defensive when given slightly negative feedback.

And speaking of learning and understanding slang and conversational Mandarin, FluentU is a must if you want to gain exposure to authentically spoken Mandarin.

body parts in chinese

FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can use FluentU videos to hear Mandarin Chinese the way it’s actually used by native speakers and pick up on lots of slang and authentic phrases.

Even better, every video has interactive subtitles and multimedia flashcards—so you can search for any of the words in the list below and see how they’re used in different contexts. And if you need help remembering any words, add the flashcards to your vocab list and FluentU will help you memorize them through Spaced Repetition. Try it out for free!

To learn more about body language

When you learn the body parts in another language, you don’t just memorize the translations. Knowing the vocab opens you up to contextual information, which in this case would be slang and body talk.

Body language varies across the globe, where one gesture may be perfectly acceptable in one culture yet perceived as rude in another. We mustn’t forget that learning a language also means learning to assimilate beyond verbal communication.

Body Parts in Chinese: A Holistic List of Over 60 Essential Body-related Words

So how much of the body or 身体 (shēntǐ) do you actually know?

You might’ve already come across the easy terms for basic body parts, but it’s high time you go beyond the basics with this extensive vocabulary guide.

And just for fun, we’ve included some expressions and slang that mention parts of the body.

Head and Neck

body parts in chinese

(tóu) — head

(liǎn) — face

头发 (tóufa) — hair

前额 (qián é) — forehead

眉毛 (méimao) — eyebrows

眼睛 (yǎnjīng) — eye

睫毛 (jiémáo) — eyelashes

耳朵 (ěrduo) — ear

耳垂 (ěrchuí) — earlobe

鼻子 (bízi) — nose

脸颊 (liǎnjiá) — cheek

嘴巴 (zuǐbā) — mouth

嘴唇 (zuǐchún) — lips

牙齿 (yáchǐ) — tooth

(shé) — tongue

下巴 (xiàba) — chin

脖子 (bózi) — neck

The face expresses a lot of emotions. In English, we have terms like “long face” to show unhappiness or disappointment, and “red face” to signify embarrassment or anger.

Chinese has similar expressions, with terms like 绷脸 (běng liǎn) that literally translates to “stretch face,” and 脸红 (liǎnhóng) translating to “face red” to indicate blushing with embarrassment or anger.

Common expressions involving the eyes usually have something to do with grabbing someone’s attention.

For example, 抢眼 (qiǎngyǎn) literally means “snatch eyes” but translates to “eye-catching.”

There’s also the Chinese proverb about love, 各花入各眼 (gè huā rù gè yǎn ) that means “different flowers match different eyes,” which is close to the Western adage of beauty being in the eye of the beholder.

Here are a few other expressions:

左耳进右耳出 (zuǒ ěr jìn yòu ěr chū) — left ear in, right ear out; (literally) in one ear and out the other

毒舌 (dúshé) — poisonous tongue; (lit.) a harsh critic

仰首伸眉 (yǎng shǒu shēn méi) — lift head stretch eyebrows; (lit.) hold your head up high

Torso

body parts in chinese

躯干 (qūgàn) — torso

肩膀 (jiānbǎng) — shoulder

胸膛 (xiōngtáng) — chest

肚子 (dùzi) — abdomen, belly

肚脐 (dùqí) — navel, belly button

(yāo) — waist, small of the back

腰胯 (yāo kuà) — hip

脊背 (jǐbèi) — back

屁股 (pìgu) — butt

阴部 (yīnbù) — genitals, private parts

There are actually quite a number of idioms that include the chest and abdomen in Chinese, as people believe that the torso is the container of emotions.

One example would be 捶胸顿足 (chuíxiōngdùnzú) meaning “to beat one’s chest and stamp one’s feet” to describe grief, sorrow or anguish. It’s almost like the Western saying of beating yourself up over something. Other common sayings use different synonyms for chest in Chinese.

Arms and Legs

body parts in chinese

Parts of the arm

() — arm

腋窝 (yèwō) — armpit

手肘 (shǒu zhǒu) — elbow

前臂 (qiánbì) — forearm

手腕子 (shǒuwànzi) — wrist

(shǒu) — hand

手掌 (shǒuzhǎng) — palm

手指 (shǒuzhǐ) — finger

拇指 (mǔzhǐ) — thumb; big toe

指甲 (zhǐjiǎ) — fingernail

If you completed a task that you felt took no effort at all, you might say it was 易如反掌 (yìrúfǎnzhǎng), or “easy as turning palm.”

To describe worry or sorrow, you might use the term 扼腕 (èwàn), literally meaning “to wring one’s wrist.”

Parts of the leg

(tuǐ) — leg

大腿 (dàtuǐ) — thigh

膝盖 (xīgài) — knee

(jìng) — shin

腿肚子 (tuǐdùzi) — calf

脚腕 (jiǎo wàn) — ankle

 (jiǎo) — foot

脚底 (jiǎodǐ) — soles of the feet

脚跟 (jiǎogēn) — heel

脚趾 (jiǎozhǐ) — toe

趾甲 (zhǐjiǎ) — toenail

Generally, the movement of legs or feet signify extreme anger or anxiety.

If you wanted something more emotive or colorful than 生气 (shēngqì) meaning “angry,” you could always use 跳脚 (tiàojiǎo), literally meaning “jumping feet,” though it really means “to stomp feet in rage or anxiety” or “hopping mad.”

Internal Body Parts

body parts in chinese

(nǎo) — brain

(hóu) — throat

(xīn) — heart

静脉 (jìngmài) — vein

动脉 (dòngmài) — artery

(fèi) — lungs

(wèi) — stomach

大肠 (dàcháng) — large intestine, colon

小肠 (xiǎocháng) — small intestine

(gān) — liver

() — spleen

胆囊 (dǎnnáng) — gallbladder, guts

生殖器 (shēngzhíqì) — reproductive organs

膀胱 (pángguāng) — bladder

尿道 (niàodào) — urethra, urinary tract

() — muscle

关节 (guānjié) — joint

() — bone

骨架 (gǔjià) — skeleton

脊梁 (jǐliáng) — backbone, spine

Have you ever noticed that a lot of the words for “happy” in Chinese have (xīn) it? According to Chinese culture, the heart is the source of emotions, and it’s actually quite beautiful that many positive feelings in Chinese include the character, such as:

开心 (kāixīn) — happy, elated

心旷神怡 (xīnkuàngshényí) — heart untroubled, spirit pleased; (lit.) relaxed and carefree

心醉 (xīnzuì) — heart drunk; (lit.) enchanted, charmed

But as the heart is the source of all emotions, (xīn) also appears in negative qualities, with 心急 (xīnjí) and 心切 (xīnqiè) both meaning “impatient.”

In Chinese, the gallbladder represents courage—and sometimes, lack thereof. Terms and expressions concerning the gallbladder could make a hefty list of its own, so we’ll include just a few below:

胆量 (dǎnliàng) — gallbladder amount; (lit.) courage

胆大 (dǎn dà) — gallbladder big; (lit.) bold, daring

胆小 (dǎn xiǎo) — gallbladder small; (lit.) timid

 

And there you have it!

With this list, you’ll definitely be able to express yourself better in the circumstances mentioned above, as well as throw in some body idioms while conversing with native speakers!
 

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