小鸟依人

Pronounced: xiǎo niǎo yī rén
Literally: “Little birdie leaning on a man.”
Means: Describes a certain kind of girl and the way she acts toward her man. The idea being that she’s little, helpless, and weak, and depends on the strong manly man to take care of her. If you see a couple all cuddly in the park where the woman is expressing this relational posture through her physical posture (being held in his arms, for example), you could say, “She’s really xiǎo niǎo yī rén.” We see this all the time in the parks around here.

Our female language partners (local university students) say that Chinese men like this idea more than Chinese women, but that a lot of women do, too. Not every woman can fit this profile, though; you’re supposed to be really thin (zero visible muscle). They say the guys like it because they feel more manly next to this kind of woman.

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