Do You Know These Chinese Phrases?

This year is the year of the monkey (hóu nián) so let’s look at some interesting phrases using the word hóu.

shā jī jǐng hóu

literally “kill chicken scare monkey”, it basically means to make an example of somone. A Chinese government official has been locked up for corruption? zhèng fǔ shā jī jǐng hóu / the government are killing a chicken to scare the monkeys / they are making an example of him.

hóu jí

literally “monkey anxious” you can use it to describe somebody who is acting particularly impatient. You would usually use it to describe someone who is unnecessarily impatient, like when queueing up. Or if you’re at the airport and somebody is getting anxious when the flight isn’t for another two hours. bú yòng nà me húo jí / no need to be so anxious. gà má nà me húo jí / what the hell are you fretting about?

hóu hái zi

Monkey child is another way of saying a cheeky or mischievous child. Surprisingly similar to the English equivalent. tā shì hóu hái zi / he’s a little monkey. Some people teaching English in China find they have to put up with a lot of hóu hái zi.

hóu nián mǎ yuè

This phrase, monkey year horse month, just means one day in the distant future. For a lot of students mastering Chinese seems like something they’ll achieve only in distant future. wǒ hóu nián mǎ yuè cái néng xué hǎo zhōng wén / one day in the distant future I can eventually master Chinese.


Know some other phrases using the word hóu? If you do, please leave a comment.