You may not believe this, but Chinese people have a hilarious way of calling some of our favorite Western celebrities!
It’s common practice among the Chinese to give famous Western celebrities a nickname considerably distinct from their original name. These nicknames usually embody the celebrity’s unique reputation or public image, but sometimes, they may sound random and funny to anybody who gets to hear it!
As someone from the US, I found these names and origins fascinating, and I hope you will too!
Here are 12 of some of the most interesting and hilarious Chinese nicknames for Western Celebrities!
Mariah Carey - Cow Sister
Mariah Carey is known as niú jiě (牛姐), or cow sister. At first glance, it isn’t the most flattering nickname, but for the Chinese, it’s a name that compliments her incredible talent. The word niú (牛) is a slang word for ‘awesome’ and is used in her name to refer to her awesome vocals.
Ariana Grande - Little Cow
Ariana Grande is known as xiǎo niú niú (小牛牛), or Little Cow. With this young and new singer coming into the industry with outstanding vocals like Mariah, she must be her little sister.
Taylor Swift - Unlucky/Moldy
Taylor Swift is known as méi méi (霉霉) in China, which literally means ‘unlucky’ or ‘moldy.’ This is because of two main things: her unfortunate stroke of luck in romance and her observable struggle to get her hits to the top of the Billboard charts. Even if Taylor is now on a different level of fame and is a successful singer-songwriter (not to mention being in love for more than half a decade), her ‘unlucky’ nickname is still used in China today.
Katy Perry - Fruit Sister
Inspired by her wild and vibrant fruit-themed outfits during the early stages of her career, Chinese people gave Katy Perry the nickname ‘fruit sister,’ or shuǐ guǒ jiě (水果姐).
Nicki Minaj - Numbing Spicy Chicken
Nicki Minaj’s nickname, málàjī (麻辣鸡), which sounds like a transliteration of her stage surname Minaj, stands for ‘numbing spicy chicken.’ It may be a funny nickname, but we can all agree that Nicki is one spicy chica with her daring outfits, unique rap style, and hot figure.
Kim Kardashian - Gold Aunty
Fashion icon and Reality TV star Kim Kardashian is known as jīn dà mā (金大妈), which stands for ‘Gold Aunty,’ referring to her love and value for money and her considerably luxurious lifestyle.
Justin Timberlake - Boss Jia
The former N'Sync star is known as jiǎ lǎo bǎn (贾老板) or 'Boss Jia.' Due to Justin's success not solely in music but also because of his hardworking and entrepreneurial reputation, people call him Boss. For someone who has made business investments with restaurants, record labels, a clothing line, and even a golf course, the name suits him perfectly.
Chris Hemsworth - Hammer Brother
Chris Hemsworth is known as 'Hammer Brother' or chuí gē (錘哥) because–you guessed it–of his role as Thor.
Bruno Mars - Mars Brother
Bruno Mars is known as huǒ xīng gē (火星哥) or 'Mars Brother.' Huǒ xīng (火星) is the Chinese word for the planet Mars, and coincidentally is also the singer's stage surname.
Britney Spears - Little Sweetie
Chinese fans see Britney Spears as the music icon with a sweet voice and demeanor, hence the nickname xiǎo tián tián (小甜甜), or 'Little Sweetie.'
One Direction - Little Broken Team
After years of creating hit songs, going on world tours, and melting everyone's hearts with their voice and good looks, the British boy band One Direction is now known as xiǎo pò tuán (小破团), or 'Little Broken Team' after Zayn Malik left the group.
Jennifer Lopez - Lord of Butt
Sometimes all you need is one full-figured posterior to earn the name luó bà (籮霸), or 'Lord of Butt', and we can't blame the Chinese for giving JLo this name. She's got one curvy booty, after all!
I hope you found this blog post interesting and fun! While these names are words one would rarely encounter daily, you can also introduce your child to Mandarin through storybooks about simple everyday activities that teach essential life lessons and showcase Chinese culture!
Looking for a place to start? You can check out my wide selection of bilingual books in Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Cantonese, and English. A gift of a second language is priceless!