Slang for Feeling Down: 囧

Chinese character or iPhone emoji?

When I first came across this, I couldn’t tell if this was a real character since it looked so different, just like a smiley face (more like a crying face).

For the non-Chinese language learner .. I guess this would be a great example of Chinese characters looking “just like pictures.”

Ironically, 囧 originally means “bright.” However, now a days it means something more along the lines of emoji the character resembles.

Sad, depressed, helplessness, disappointed, or the general “blah” or “ugh” feeling we have whether it’s because we spilt some coffee on our shirt and it’s only 10AM or we’ve just locked our keys in the car.

Slang for Feeling Down: 囧

This word became a popular slang word from Taiwan’s BBS community and spread quickly to mainland China, and then Hong Kong. It was especially popular on the internet.

囧 is said to be one of the most popular symbols of the 21st century. It became part of the news and even the movie and advertising industry. Here’s one example where it’s part of Joseph Gorden-Levitt’s name!

One way people write  with symbols is (kind of like how we use “:)” as a smiley face in English):


囧 (jiǒng): helplessness, disappointment, sad, depressed, hurt, “blah” or “ugh”

This word can mean a multiple of different things depending on the situation and what you want to say. On the internet, it usually expresses some kind of sadness or helplessness. However, it could also mean humor or describe one’s mood.

Let’s take a look at some examples found in the wild!

1. Example A:


bà mā jiǒng hěn dà

Dad and Mom’s disappointment is really big

2. Example B:


dà lù diàn shì jù “jiǒng rén de xìng fú shēng huó”

Mainland China’s drama series “depressed people’s happy lives”

3. Example C:

 《泰》票房近13亿 价值取向获赞

“tài jiǒng” piào fáng jìn 13 yì jià zhí qǔ xiàng huò zàn

Lost in Thailand” box office sales nearly hit a praised 13 billion in value.

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