太牛了!

Pronounced: tài niú le
Literally: Too cow!
Means: “So awesome/great!” or “So brutal/bad!” depending on the circumstances. If you get 100 on a test that all your classmates fail, or there’s an awesome move on the sports highlight reel, people can say that it’s tài niú le! But if there’s a really embarrassing sports highlight, or you fail a test that everyone else aces, or someone does something blatantly wrong that most other people wouldn’t do like drive off on the police or run out of the restaurant without paying, then it’s also tài niú le! When used negatively it’s criticizing a bad person or making fun of a stupid/unfortunate person.

You can also say “really cow” (真牛) where you’d say, “really cool” or “really awesome.”

2 thoughts on “太牛了!”

  1. 哈哈!太逗了,你的解释很有趣!
    补充下,现在还有“太牛了”的衍生词,“真牛X (chā)!”,”X”代替了”bī”这个字,因为”牛bī”是非常粗野的 词,”X”一般用在网络上被系统自动蔽掉的字,所以很多年轻人现在都说:“太牛X了!”

  2. I went ahead and allowed the above comment “for educational purposes.” The commenter is explaining another common use for “cow” in Chinese slang that I deliberately left out of the original post. Here’s what he says [my comments in brackets]:

    Haha, this is too much fun! Your explanation is really amusing.
    To supplement it: now there’s another term that has grown out of “too cow”: “zhēn niú X!” [“really cow X!”]. “X” is used in place of “bī”. This word “niú bī” is so extremely insolent/rough that the Chinese internet automatically censors it out, so lots of young people replace “bī” with “X” [this is one of several ways Chinese internet users have devised for using this term online in spite of Chinese internet censors].

    “bī” is usually translated as one of the single most offensive, sexist words in the English language (the “c-word”). Our friends and teachers say “too cow!”; it’s not an offensive phrase. But referring to cows’ body parts is so offensive it will get you automatically censored on the Chinese internet.

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