What’s That Word? Dictionary of Asian Terms

Guide to Asian Terminology

A ‘Samuel Johnson Dictionary’ Imitation by David Lam-Lu.

Last update: 10/30/2013

Below is a guide to common terms that you may hear when entering china. I updated and changed some things since Senior year of high school when I created this. If you have any ideas of things to add, let me know! Definitions with an asterisk (*) were submitted ideas.

My favorite definitions are ‘Panda’ and ‘Ping Pong.’

Disclaimer: For those of you who disagree with any of these definitions, they’re all correct. Just ask American Society, your peers and the media. Also, some of these terms should not be read aloud to children under the age of 17 before bedtime, without a nightlight and/or adult supervision.


A•cu•punc•ture.An oriental medical technique of stabbing people with herbal dipped needles in an attempt to redirect the flow of their “inner energy” to relieve pain and for therapeutic purposes. The word originates from the Latin words of acus, “needle” and pungere, “to prick.” [Note from David. Actually, this really does work. They use super fine tipped needles so you don’t feel anything. It seriously relaxes you. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly expensive and I don’t think it has any long term effects…] see also: Inner Energy

A•cu•punc•tu•rist: see Acupuncture. A doctor with a license to stab you many times over and over. One who studies and applies the art of Acupuncture, a skilled doctor who cures ailments not by internal medication but by gently penetrating you with his many uber-thin rods, in places that will make you feel good.

A•si•an. (1) A short, dwarfish, lightish-dark brownish-yellow-tanish red skinned person with black or brown hair originating from the continent of Asia; A person suffering from Slanted eyes that cause them to wear glasses. Asians excel in school but lack major social skills and no driving skills. If you know anyone that fits this description, he or she is Asian. (2) Of or regarding to Asia, its people, culture…etc. (3) People that talks like this: That Asian vase costs one dolla, one dolla! (4*) Bad Ass, spike-haired muscle men that scream kame ha me Ha and release energy balls that can blow your sorry ass to Neptune. Don’t mess with them. Asians be bro’s. (5) David Lam-lu
*Anonymous

Bei•jing. Capital of China infested by Chinese nazi’s better known as Communists. Formerly known as Peking.

Bu•jut•su. All fighting methods mainly pertaining to those of the Samurai.

Bu•shi. (1) Warrior (2) The way; moral code of.

Bu•shi•do. Literally ‘the way of the warrior’ originating from the word Bushi. Bushido is the moral code for all who practice Bujutsu; a binding order of the warrior and the lord demanding total dedication.

Bow•ing. (1) A form of respect shown by lowering ones head. (2) A greeting required of Asian children. (3) The proper way to greet any Asian immediately upon first sight.

Bu•ddha. (1) Fat jolly Asian man. (2). The Asian santa.

Bud•dhism. (1) One of the three major Asian religions; following the studies of Siddhartha Guatama. More of a way of life and a hopeful attempt at reaching ‘enlightenment’ by following the ‘eightfold path’ laid down by Buddha in order to rid oneself of all Desires and Suffering. (2) Those who think they’re too good to eat animals. (3) A religious excuse to avoid sex because of an embarrassing penis size.

Chi•na. A communist nation in eastern Asia; its people led under a government with deceiving promises of equality. A nation that gained its powers through brothels and extreme sex in order to max it’s population capacity to make up for the citizen’s lack of height.

Chi•nese. (1) A word originally created to describe all creatures and objects originating from China though it has become commonly used to describe anything originating from all of Asia. This has been widely disapproved of for all the people of Asia, mainly all people not originating from China, dislike being labeled ‘Chinese.’ (2) A person whose ancestry originates from china, a harmful being with skills of martial arts and black hair. Majorly lacks social abilities and skills, spending their pointless lives studying and writing semi-correct definitions for random terms for dealing with other Asians. (3) Any form and sub form of the Chinese language from Mandarin to Cantonese.

Chi•nese New Year. The longest and most important celebration of China where everyone gets rid of the old and welcomes the new; a 15 day celebration which takes place according to the Lunar Calendar; A dreadful time in which all people suffer from new haircuts and endless cleaning of the home. It is also known as the Lunar New Year and the Spring Festival. This festival lands on the January 26, 2009.

Chi•nese Zo•di•ac. (1) A chart that tells you what your ideal pet is. (2) An astronomical calendar created through a 12-year cycle. Each year dedicated to one of 12 winning animals in a race to the heavens in a legend many many years ago. The animals, in winning order, are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar. Depending on the year a person was born, their life characteristics were traced back to each of these creatures. (Fun fact: In the actual legend, the cat would have been part of zodiac if his friend the mouse hadn’t deceived him). See Zodiac.

Chink. (1) A strong cant term, a slang insult used by those who are jealous of the awesome abilities of Chinese people and their awesomeness. (2) An ethnic slur towards Chinese people. It is considered to have a degree of offensiveness to that of the term nigger; there are many suggestions for where ‘Chink’ came from. Some believe it originated from the Chinese courtesy ching ching derived from the word China. Others claim that it could be an alternate form of Qing for the Qing Dynasty, but as an insult, the most probable origin is in which that it derives its meaning from another definition of ‘Chink’ being a simile for slanted eyes. (3) An Asian petname that if used, will surely cause some kick ass martial arts action. (4) A small crevice or narrow opening. That chink in the wall lets in a cool draft, it needs to be fixed. (4) A short light metallic sound.

Chop•sticks. (1) Oriental eating utensils composed of a pair of sticks often with beautiful designs, so named for the two sticks that make a ‘chop’ noise when they collide together because the user misses his/her target of consumption. (2) A simple melody played on the piano for beginners.

Con•fu•cian•ism. A religion; more of a way of life; which gives a strong attempt at philosophical teachings for moral behaviors emphasizing on self-control, obedience to social hierarchy, and study of social and political order; one of the three major religions of ancient China; The study of the teachings of Confucius.

Da Wei. (1) Direct translation of the sounds to the name David. ‘Da’ can be translated to ‘Big’ and ‘Wei’ is translated to ‘Protect’ or ‘Waist’. Therefore those named David choose between Big Protector or Big Waist. Most lean towards the second translation – because a big waist = a big butt, and women love butts

Dra•gon. (1) Ancient mythical beasts believed to control and rule over different aspects of life and nature. Dragons were feared creatures believed to be made of nine entities (body parts) with the head of a camel, scales of a carp/fish, horns of a stag/dear, eyes of a rabbit, ears of an ox, neck and body of a serpent, belly of a clam, paws of a tiger and claws of an eagle. There are claims that these creatures exist and some have been seen souring through the sky during thunderstorms (2) The blue dragon is the primary creature of the four benevolent spiritual animals (the other three being tortoise, phoenix and tiger) Ruling over the East, Spring, Blue/Green and Wood. (3) The most important symbol of luck in China. (4) The 5th creature of the Chinese Zodiac. (5) A term used for anyone with fearful features or characteristics; the dragon brings luck such as great wealth or rainfall for a successful growing season but it was feared for its wrath and sacrifices and celebrations were made in honor for it. The evil dragon lady won’t leave me alone. (6) Paired with the Phoenix, it symbolizes Yin-Yang. The dragon represents the Emperor and Husband. See Phoenix and Yin-Yang

Dri•ver. (1) The operator of a motor vehicle; any non-Asian in possession of a license or permit. One who drives; a chauffeur; a bus driver: those who are hired to drive. (2) The cause of a force or action. (3) A kind of sail used on some sailboats. >

Dri•ving. (1)The ability to control or steer the motion of a motor vehicle or animal. (2) The force that causes a motion or action. (3) A myth in Asia.

Dump•lings. (1)Small round balls of dough; a popular and delicious Asian snack. Symbolizes wealth for its look of ancient Chinese gold. (2) An informal insult regarding a person short or plump. (3) A term of admiration to young children who are cute. Aw, aren’t you a little dumpling you. Usually accompanied with a painful pinch to the cheek and the Childs life long fear of the person calling them cute.

Egg Roll. A popular Asian fried snack made of a mixture of vegetable and meat encased in thin egg dough. See Spring Roll.

Fire Crack•ers. A form of fire works in which even a child can perform though the burning damage it can do to a person is equally as painful as those of larger fire works. Traditionally, fire crackers were a sign of getting rid of the old and welcoming the new during the Chinese New Year but being seen as a dangerous weapon, they are now banned so that tradition is history; Fire Crackers were used to scare away the legendary monster Nian.

In•cense. (1) Marijuana (2) Maryjoowanna? (3) Pot. (4) Green Goddess. (5) Dope. (6) Skunk. (7) Fastball. (8) Locoweed. (9) Peck. (10) Corporation. (11) Fragrant smoke or perfume composed of aromatic biotic materials, egenerally a compond of aromatic plant materials combined with essential oils. (12) Bullet. (13) Mary Jane. (14) Bud. (15) Buddha Grass [Note from David…hahaha, This is a legit marijuana street name…], (16) Giggleweed. (17) Hemp. (18) Panama Red. (19) Texas Tea. (20) Thai Sticks. (21) Broccoli. (22) Herb. (23) Supergrass.

Jack•ie Chan. (1) A famous Chinese martial arts movie star. (2) A term used to describe any Asian male of unknown name. I don’t know his name but he looks Asian so it must be Jackie Chan!

Kàng/Khang. (1) Chinese word meaning health. (2) A name given to young children who are sickly and may not make it to writing their first word definitions.

Kow•tow. (1) A deep form of bowing; it is done in a crouching position head touching the ground; distinct from simply bowing in which the individual simply and lowers his/her head; highest form of respect. (2) Begging for ones life or necessities for it. The prisoner kowtowed before the emperor begging for forgiveness and mercy. (3) Effective muscle building and toning exercise done by hauling cows around town.

Kung•fu. An Asian Martial Arts form in which the core is to imitate ones favorite animal; if you can imitate an animal, you’re a master of the kung fu art in that form. I practice fish style kung fu! Kung fu is a highly valued art in which the user learns to control and strengthen his/her body. Kung fu literally means “merit master.” As its name states, it takes many years of practice to master the perfect imitation of another creature.

Kung•fu Pan•da. A successful movie to introduce kids to the basis of kung fu. It follows a cute panda that becomes a fearful fighting machine against evil.

Lu•nar New Year. See Chinese New Year. Celebrates the beginning of the Lunar Year.

Mar•tial Arts. The term to describe all physical art forms; each Asian country has its own unique Martial Art created to tone and control the body; traditionally, martial arts were trained for combat used to determine territory and show pride in ones family and establish position in society by beating everyone else up; Mastering ones kung fu style shows ultimate manliness and awesome break dancing skills. See also “Kung Fu” and “Sumo Wrestling”

Ni•an. A legendary man-eating creature that terrorized the people of ancient China between the first and 15th days of the Lunar Calendar. Chinese New Years is celebrated in remembrance of that time after they have conquered the Beast. Those days are now celebrated.

Nin•ja. (1) Originating from Japan; a ninja is a spy hired for assassinations (2) one who gathers information (3) A skilled assassin (4) A cowards whose sole purpose in life is to become a mighty warrior by fighting in the shadows. (5) A warrior that is cooler than a pirate.

Nin•jut•su. All fighting methods pertaining to those of a Ninja.

Or•i•ga•mi. Japanese paper folding art made for the home alone mom who has nothing better to do while waiting for her husband and children to return from work and school.

O•ri•en•tal: see Asian. Word used to describe things relating to East Asia. (2) Fancy way of saying ‘Asian’.

Pan•Da: A symbol of peace and love. An ancient story once told of how the tragic death of two star-struck lovers united their feuding families. Back in the days when the sun first wiggled its shining baby sun toes, lived a royal family of Black Bears: The Blacktagues, proud rulers of the forest. Their mortal enemies: the Polulets; were an ancient breed of Polar Bears from the olden days of the Ice Age. These two groups met 313 times a year for a friendly, not-so-friendly brawl in a contest of strength, power, awesomeness, and simply to be like “Hey! I don’t like you.” The other 52 days were Sundays. On the eve of one of these so said Sundays, the Blacktagues had a plan to end the feud once and for all by taking over the ice kingdom. This would be an arduous task and not meant for the weak of heart. For this special mission, they would call upon their biggest, blackest, most buffest of buff, ninja black bear: Blackio, who happened to be the one and only son of Lord and Lady Blacktague. After bidding their son farewell and gifting him weapons including a honeypot, salmon, Kirby and an iPhone, Blackio was off on his adventure. Along his way, he accomplished twelve difficult tasks including defeating the ducktra, a many headed duck. A week after departure, he finally arrives at the Polulet lair. As he entered and was about to begin commencing a hostile takeover using awesome forest ninja tae kwon kung pow Fu-rate powers, through the corner of his left eye, he spots the most dazzling, snazzy, sexy, bodacious bare bear he ever saw: Poliet Polulet, relaxing by the hot springs. Enticed by her emissions of womanliness and babe-potential, he stumbled over and with his most manly tuff-bear voice, said “Hey, you look like my teddy bear, want to cuddle?” *Wink* She was like “Waddup?” He decided she was pretty chill so he offered to share some honey and salmon. During the next six days where he was supposed to be taking over the Polulet Lair, Blackio had better things to do. Let’s just say there were many growls, roars and purrs throughout the lair as they got to know each other intimately. These unfortunate lovers were torn between each other and their families’ hatred. However, they continued to see each other and went on many walks on the beaches and bonfire dinners. Six months later, they were caught by Lord Polulet and separated.*Sigh* forbidden love. With the help of Friar Roarence, the two devised a plan to escape to Asia to start a family.  As Poliet was hiding and waiting for her beloved, her belly ached and she fainted into a deep five-hour sleep. Blackio, arriving upon his dead-seeming soul mate, was overcome with distraught and dies. Poliet is stunned when she awakes upon a dead Blackio. As her heart fills with sorrow, she too reaches for the lights. Not long after, the two families were united for a funeral and out popped a baby bear. This flubby ball of fur, an adorable black bear/polar bear mix, brought the family to peace. That bear of legend, was the panda.

Pan•Da Ex•press. (1) Commissioned by the International Zoological Underground Economy, a government anti-funded humanitarian program seeking to increase the human standards of living by smuggling *ahem* (il)legally transporting en(dangered)tertaining black & white bears from China to animal entertainment centers accross the globe and Mercury. (2) A competitive US fast-food chain of “Original,” traditional Chinese Gourmet food. Tried their Orange Chicken? Delish! (3) A revolutionary style of transportation (currently underdevelopment) coming to your country, city and town in May 2057.(4) A mobile emergency panda health and restoration unit dedicated to 100% satisfaction-guarenteed treatment for sneezing baby pandas accross China’s many panda breeding centres. [Refer to: http://www.sneezingbabypanda.com/] (5) I’m Hungry.

Pe•king. A delicious Chinese buffet in Iowa City that was taken out by a flood in the 21st century. See Beijing. Since it’s re-inception in 2012 (or perhaps 2011), it’s food options and deliciousness has severely diminished.

Ping-Pong (known in America as Table Tennis) . The national sport of China differing with American Tennis only in that it is played on a table. The history is that Chinese people loved tennis but being Asian, they were biologically disadvantaged by having shorter legs and shorter arms. They also spent too much time inside studying for medical degrees and not enough time exercising, and therefore they not only didn’t have the stamina to run from one side of the court to the other but were also near-sighted. Table tennis has less running and faster ball play, also helping with the quick speed abilities needed in their martial arts and developing the quick thinking abilities needed for pop quizzes. The origin of the name ‘Ping-Pong’ is because ‘Ping’ was a popular Chinese name and ‘Pong’ sounded cool with ‘Ping,’ making for a catchy sounding game. Another theory is that ‘Ping’ and ‘Pong’ replicate the sound of the ball hitting the table.

Phoe•nix: (1) An ancient mythical creature of fire; one of the four celestial emblems (the other three are Dragon, Tortoise and Tiger). The red phoenix rules over the South, Summer, Red and Fire. (2) When placed with the dragon, it symbolizes complete harmony: yin-yang; The Phoenix represents the Empress and Wife. See Dragon and Yin-Yang.

Qing Dy•nas•ty. Last ruling dynasty of China.

Ram. (1) A peaceful grazing mammal that looks to be a middle species between a deer and a sheep but was unhappy with its small antlers and traded those in for larger elephant tusk horns. (2) The eighth and coolest animal of the Chinese Zodiac.

Red. “The Chinese love the color red because it is cool, the color of love and anger.” Those who think this are ignorant. The color red is actually cherished because it is a symbol of luck. The legend of Nian goes that the people used firecrackers and flags of red and beating of thunderous drums to frighten and repel the man-eating beast. Many people who do not know of this story mistake the color red to bringing hope, love and to rid of anger for the New Year.

Rice. (1) A grain, which in America is cherished as a rare delicacy but in Asia, is a bland substance that supports the people each and every day. It is eaten with chicken and soy sauce. In America, the Chinese, ‘Lice’, pronounces it. (2) A drug that all children are presented with at a young age; all good Asian children MUST enjoy consuming 3 servings a day.

Sa•bu•rau (also Sa•bu•rai) : See Samurai. The Japanese term for “those who serve in close attendance.”

Sam•u•rai. (1) The feudal military aristocrats of pre-industrial Japan. The word originates from the Japanese words Saburau and Saburai. (2) A term used for professional warriors of great honor and nobility. (3) A mercenary, one who serves for money (A more proper usage of Samurai after they lost power in the Japanese Tokugawa Era, but the word, being vulgarly conceived for all warriors of no respect, honor or code; was unaccepted for the ancient lords of Japan). (4) A football player with a sword.

Sa•shi•mi. Japanese cuisine; plainly sliced raw fish without flavoring; served with sushi.

Slant•ed Eye•s. An incurable birth defect highly contagious from one generation of Asians to another, causing the eyes of the victim to be slightly slanted with a narrower opening for vision. This may be the reason why most Asians suffer from astigmatism and are such horrible drivers.

Snor•lax. The Sumo god. See sumo Wrestling

Sp•ring Fest•i•val. See Chinese New Year. So named for the festival beginning at the beginning of spring during the Lunar Year.

Spring Rolls. A popular Asian food for those who love eggrolls but are too lazy to sit down and fry them. See egg roll.

Soy Sauce. A dark salty sauce of low viscosity made of fermented soybeans. Commonly eaten in China with rice and chicken.

Sum•o Wrest•er (1) One who worships the all mighty Snorlax. (2) A person who practices the art of Sumo Wrestling.

Sumo Wrest•ling. (1) A form of extreme body art. (2) A martial arts form that consists of shouting “waauuoouurrgghhh” and jiggling one’s fluff and squishing the opponent. (3) Any Asian who’s height exceeds 4 ft. and weight exceeds 100 lbs. See: Snorlax (4) A form of athletic practice that believes that getting fit means getting fat. (5) Japanese traditional competition to determine who’s fat is more jiggly wiggly.

Su•shi. (1) A famous Japanese cuisine made of raw seafood, vinegared rice and other toppings. The word “sushi” is literally translated as, “it’s sour.” (2) In America, it is a deceiving word to make ‘raw fish’ sound exquisite and rare though this is a common misconception because ‘raw fish’ alone is actually called “Sashimi.” [Note to men: Want to land a date? Offer your woman a free meal at their favorite sushi establishment…I’ve yet to meet a woman that dislikes sushi.]

Ta•ble Ten•nis. See Ping-Pong

Tao•ism. (1) One of the major three Asian religions. More of a way of life; follows the teachings of Laozi and Zhuangzi in their writings of the Daodejing. Nobody knows if these people ever really existed but the writings teach of multiple abstract ways of living in which the follower literally ‘goes with the flow,’ let things go as they must. ‘Tao’ translates to ‘the path’ or ‘the way.’ Pronounced and by many, it is written as ‘Daoism.’ (2) An excuse religion for those who are lazy. “Oh, it’s Sunday night and I have homework due tomorrow, oh well, my religion is Taoism so I’ll go with the flow. I’m tired so I must sleep and everything will work out”

Ti•ger. (1) One of the mystical celestial beasts (the other three are Dragon, Phoenix and Tortoise). The White Tiger rules over the West, Fall, White and Metal. (2) The 3rd creature of the Chinese Zodiac.

To•ku•ga•wa E•ra. The beginning of an era of peace in Japan. The end of the domination of the Samurai class for their warring skill was not needed.

Tor•toise. One of the four benevolent spiritual creatures (the other three are (Dragon, Phoenix and Tiger). The Black Tortoise rules over the North, Winter, Black and Water.

Waiguoren. (1*) Chinese translation: Foreigners. See White People.
*HugeSexyBear

White Men. (1*) Nasty, burly men who pray on adorable Asian women for reasons that Asian men and White women do not understand. (2) A member of corporate America, male, 5ft 10”, between the ages of 35 – 54, tall, athletic, sexy, Christian Grey. (3) Orlando Bloom. (4) Channing Tatum. (5) Justin Bieber.
*HairyGiantBearPerson

White People. (1*) People who enjoy being stared at like circus animals when they get on the subway. (2*) Rich visitors from a foreign land – charge them 4x the norm and they’ll surely pay. (3) People hailing from North America. (4*) Hairy, giant bear people. (5) People who look their age. (6) People who are white – duh. (7) People who are pink-ish. (8) People who are tan-ish. (9) People with light brown-ish complexion. (10) People who are not so white. (11) Basically, anyone who is not black, Asian or Hispanic
*Miranda JN

White Women. (1) Porcelain dolls. (2) K-Pop groupies. (3*) Huge, sexy bear people.
*Anonymous

Yin-Yang. The balance of everything in nature; There is an opposite for everything; Feminine and Masculine; Good and Evil; for beauty, there must by ugliness; a teaching derived from Taoism. The Yin-Yang symbol is a circle where half shows darkness and the other half shows brightness, a smaller circle is embedded in the center of each side showing the color of the opposite side; this represents the balance and necessity of one for the other, ultimately the balance of all natural things. A dragon and phoenix represents the Yin (female) and the Yang (male) in marriage. See Dragon and Phoenix.

Yu•an Tan: See Chinese New Year. The Chinese term for ‘Chinese New Years.’ It is pronounced Yuwon tan.

Zo•di•ac. An astrological chart of constellations for those who believe in fortune telling. A zodiac supposedly puts everything in life into an order that makes it easy to predict every aspect of a person’s life to their personality to career and love simply based on the year and date they are born. See Chinese Zodiac.

What’s That Word? David Lam-Lu’s Guide to Asian Terminology | //The Blog. KD* via @davidlamlu #TheBlogKD
Pan•da. A symbol of peace and love.
(Read about the Legend Above)

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