advanced-chinese-slang-making-fool

Chinese Slang: How to say someone is making a fool out of himself

The original Chinese phrase for “making a fool out of yourself” is 闹笑话 (nào xiào hua). But a Chinese singer unwittingly invented new Chinese slang meaning the same thing – 闹太套(nàotàitào) – when he took the stage at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. 

Huang Xiaoming, a well known Chinese actor, singer, and all around heartthrob, was singing the song “One World, One Dream” to promote the Beijing Olympics. The song was written to promote world peace, harmony, and fair play. Unfortunately for Huang Xiaoming, his pronunciation of “not at all” in one of the English verses sounded a lot like 闹太套(nàotàitào), which sounds like the Chinese phrase 闹笑话 (nào xiào hua) meaning “to make a fool of oneself.”

Netizens didn’t exactly extend all the courtesy of fair play the song encourages to Huang Xiaoming. The mocking eventually led to the Chinese phrase conveying the meaning that someone has overreached their abilities , making themselves look foolish, just as it was perceived that Huang Xiaoming had looked silly when he mispronounced “not at all.”

The phrase 闹太套 is best used to indicate someone trying to show off their capabilities when they really aren’t very good. Here are some examples:

Example 1)

“练好语音基础不再“闹太套””

“liàn hǎo yǔyīn jīchǔ bùzài “nào tài tào””

“Practice and build up your pronunciation foundation and don’t make a fool out of yourself ever again”

Example 2)

“做人不能“闹太套””

“zuò rén bùnéng “nào tài tào””

“Don’t behave in such a way that you end up making a fool out of yourself

Example 3)

“黄晓明在不解与嘲讽中越挫越勇,成熟淡定到可以直视自己不是演技派,甚至自嘲闹太套

“huángxiǎomíng zài bùjiě yǔ cháofěng zhōng yuè cuò yuè yǒng,chéngshú dàndìng dào kěyǐ zhíshì zìjǐ búshì yǎnjì pài,shènzhì zìcháonàotàitào

Amidst the unrelenting mockery, Huang Xiaoming became ever more brave, mature, and calm, to the point where he could face the fact that he was not the best actor, and could make fun of himself for making a fool out of himself.

Also, you can experience the 闹太套 (nàotàitào) moment for yourself here (Youtube) or here (Tudou). Plus, you can find this and other slang in use naturally on the FluentU program.

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

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

P.S. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

FluentU Ad

Questions? Comments? Other Chinese slang that you would like us to cover? Let us know!

And One More Thing...

If you want to continue learning Chinese with interactive and authentic Chinese content, then you'll love FluentU.

FluentU naturally eases you into learning Chinese language. Native Chinese content comes within reach, and you'll learn Chinese as it's spoken in real life.

FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

FluentU brings these native Chinese videos within reach via interactive captions. You can tap on any word to instantly look it up. All words have carefully written definitions and examples that will help you understand how a word is used. Tap to add words you'd like to review to a vocab list.

FluentU's Learn Mode turns every video into a language learning lesson. You can always swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you're learning.

The best part is that FluentU always keeps track of your vocabulary. It customizes quizzes to focus on areas that need attention and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a 100% personalized experience.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe

Close