China’s Bizarre Celebrity Nicknames

From The Beijinger by Katie Coy

It’s a common practice in China to give Western celebrities nicknames that don’t always match up with their given names. Sometimes this will be a play on the transliteration of the celebrity’s real name or a reflection on the celebrity’s reputation. Some of these nicknames can be pretty hilarious or just straight up insulting, so let’s have a look at some of the funniest and the stories behind them.

Katy Perry: 水果姐 shuǐguǒ jiě – Fruit Sister
If you’re a fan of Katy Perry then you should already know that fruity outfits or props have featured prominently in her music videos and shows, which have lent her this playful nickname.

Avril Lavigne: 酵母 jiàomǔ – Yeast
Not the most pleasant nickname on the list, this comes from back in the day when Avril Lavigne was nicknamed the “Godmother of alternative music” 非主流教母 fēi zhǔliú jiàomǔ and Godmother 教母 jiàomǔ has the same pronunciation as 酵母 jiàomǔ,meaning yeast, so this became her nickname instead. 

Miley Cyrus: 舌婊 shé biǎo– Tongue Bitch
If you’ve watched some of Miley Cyrus’s music videos, then this nickname should definitely make sense, with one of her signature moves being to stick out her tongue, so much so that it has earned her the nickname “Tongue Bitch” in China.

Calvin Harris: 高富帅 gāo fù shuài – Mr. Perfect
You may already be familiar with this Chinese slang term for “Mr Perfect” which literally means “tall, rich and handsome”. Well, Calvin Harris is seen to possess all these qualities, so has been given this nickname by Chinese netizens.

Justin Timberlake: 贾老板 jiǎ lǎobǎn – Boss Jia
This nickname doesn’t come from Justin Timberlake’s success in the music industry, but instead from the fact he has invested money into a lot of other companies and is seen as an entrepreneur. In China, people admire this industriousness, and so nicknamed him “Boss Jia”, with 贾 being used as the name Justin.  

Adam Levine: 骚当 sāo dāng – Flirty Adam
Ok, so the explanation for this one is pretty simple, in China they view Adam to be a bit of a tease, which makes sense since he does perform shitless all the time. 骚 sāo means flirt and 当 dāng comes from the transliteration for Adam 亚当Yàdāng.

Kim Kardashian: 金大妈 jīn dàmā – Aunty Gold
Kim Kardashian has been nicknamed Aunty Gold because she is seen to value money above everything else.

Kristen Stewart: 面瘫女 miàntān nǚ – Stone cold face
In China, Kristen Stewart is known for not smiling very much, especially when she played Bella in the Twilight series, so she was given the nickname “stone cold face”.

Mariah Carey: 牛姐 niú jiě – Cow Sister
This might sound like a mean nickname, but actually the meaning of 牛 niú here means “awesome” like how you can say 你好牛! nǐ hǎo niú! You are awesome!

Arianna Grande: 小牛牛 xiǎo niúniú – Little Cow
In China they think that Arianna Grande sounds like a new and young version of Maria Carey, so seeing as Maria is known as “Cow Sister” here, it made perfect sense for Arianna Grande to be dubbed “Little Cow”. 

Nicki Minaj: 麻辣鸡 málà jī – Spicy Chicken
This is a translation of Nicki Minaj’s surname is also a play on words which alludes to her “spicy” personality and sexy, hot appearance. 

Leonardo Decaprio: 小李子 xiǎo lǐzǐ – Little Plum
A very cute nickname given to Leonardo Decaprio, plum 李子 represents the shortened name Leo, so 小李子 xiǎo lǐzǐ became an affectionate term for the star.

Benedict Cumberbatch: 卷福 juǎn fú Curly Blessing
Benedict Cumberbatch became well-known in China for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, and Holmes in Chinese is 福尔摩斯. Playing the detective in the TV series Sherlock, Cumberbatch adopted a curly hairstyle for the role, so the first character from Holmes (福) meaning blessing was combined with curly to give him this sweet nickname. 

Lana Del Ray 火葬场小天后 huǒzàngchǎng xiǎo tiānhòu – Queen of the Crematorium
One of the more bizarre Chinese nicknames out there, Lana Del Ray has earned the name “Queen of the Crematorium” because of her ethereal and tragic voice, which Chinese listeners have said reminds them of music you’d hear at a funeral.

Taylor Swift: 霉霉 méi méi – Mold Mold
Not the nicest nickname, 霉霉 méi méi r Mold Mold can also mean unlucky 倒霉 dǎo méi and with many of her earlier songs focusing on previous boyfriends and breakups Chinese netizens felt that she was unlucky in love. Also many of her hit songs would fail to hit the number one spot and instead come second of third, feeding into the idea that she’s unlucky.

There are of course plenty more Chinese celebrity nicknames, do you know any others? Let us know in the comments below.

Images: Pixabay Silvia Rita, Unsplash, Joey Nicotra, Laura Chouette, Daniel Quiceno, Todd Thompson, Jon Tyson