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. And you can use FluentU to see even more examples in context.

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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.

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.)

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