Chinese Flavor Metaphors to blow your mind 😋 🌶️

The hidden meanings of Chinese flavor metaphors

If you’re wondering what Chinese flavor metaphors are, the chances are that you’ve heard them before and not realised. Have you heard someone say “don’t be sour” on a Chinese TV show? Or maybe one of your friends often says you’re too sweet. Do you know why someone would someone say that in Chinese?

Many words in Chinese have hidden meanings – especially Chinese flavors.

Most flavors have another meaning, apart from the reference to the taste of a particular dish.

Let’s learn them together 👇

1. 酸 (SUĀN): SOUR

The Chinese flavor “sour” as a metaphor also means “to envy”, “to be jealous of”.

You know, this expression you make when you see someone kissing in front of you or bragging about buying a new car. It’s like eating a lemon.

Tāmen yòu qù Sānyà lǚyóu le, wǒ suān le
They traveled to Sanya again, I envy them

Nǐ nǚpéngyou zhēn piàoliang, wǒ suān le!
Your girlfriend is so beautiful, I envy you!

2. 甜 (TIÁN): SWEET

“Sweet” may refer to a sweet flavor, as well as to the feeling you have when you see something cute and nice. The “sweet feeling”.

But mind that this word might have a negative connotation too – when something is “too sweet”, so sweet that it causes a toothache.

Nǐ hé nǐ de nánpéngyou tài tián le, wǒ suān le
You and your boyfriend are too sweet, I’m getting jealous

3. 苦 (KǓ): BITTER

We all know this feeling. The bitterness of dark chocolate or a medicine. It can refer to our life as well.

It means “to feel bad” or “to suffer” – as if you swallow a bitter pill.

Shuāngshíyī wǒ bǎ wǒ de gōngzī dōu huāwán le, bǎobǎo xīnlǐ kǔ
I’ve spent all my salary on Double Eleven, I’m in despair

Wǒ wèi shénme hái méiyǒu nǚpéngyou? Bǎobǎo xīnlǐ kǔ!
Why haven’t I already found myself a girlfriend? I’m in despair!

2. 辣 (là): SPICY

Have you ever had a feeling that the music is so unbearable that you want to cover your ears with your hands? Or the picture is so dreadful that you’d better close your eyes to no see it?

It’s like your ears or eyes are burning. This is what “spicy” means.

Nǐ chànggē tài nántīng le, là ěrduǒ!
Your singing is so bad! My ears are in pain!

Tāmen yòu zài wǒ de miànqián xiùēn’ài, là yǎnjīng
They’re showing their affection to each other in front of me again, it makes my eyes hurt

Chinese flavor metaphors demystified

Feeling more clued up? We hope so!

If not, why not book a free trial class with one of our amazing Chinese teachers? There are many benefits to learning Chinese online if you’re not able to learn in China!

Feel free to drop us a comment either here or on social media to practise your new knowledge too though… we’ll correct any mistakes for you!


View this post on all our social media accounts – and see how other learners have replied to it! 👉

Other posts you might like

Multiverse of 意思 (Yìsi)

You probably already know the words 意思 (yìsi, "meaning") and 不好意思 (bù hǎoyìsi, "I'm sorry") in Mandarin. They are commonly used in sentences like: 这是什么意思? Zhè shì shénme yìsi? What does it mean? 我迟到了, 不好意思! Wǒ chídào le, bù hǎoyìsi! Sorry I'm late! But did you know...

Get 2-week FREE
Chinese Classes

Original Price: ¥600

Get 2-week FREE Chinese Classes

Original Price: ¥600

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x