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Cantonese Slang of the Week: Diving Under Water

Made-up vocabulary only known to locals, words that consist of a mix of both English and Chinese, and double-entendres that make absolutely no sense – these are just a few of the things that make Cantonese one of the hardest languages to learn. So, we thought it was about time we gave you folks a quick lesson on some funny terminology, common phrases, and the latest Internet slang. We guarantee it will score you a few extra points with the locals!


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Diving Under Water | “Chim Shui”

Do you dive? No, we’re not talking about scuba diving on your holiday, or jumping off the deep end of the pool. Although the word Chim Sui literally translates to “diving under water”, it also has another meaning that is commonly used online. For someone to Chim Sui, it means they disappear for a long time, whether they are preoccupied with something or embarrassed by something they said or did. The word means that they have to “dive” down way below water, where they can’t be seen or ridiculed – see, it makes total sense! When applying the term to real-life situations, many lovebirds would Chim Sui when they spend a lot of time with each other, while those with busy work schedules may sometimes be forced to Chim Sui for a while, and if you’re a Duk Naam (i.e. a “Poisonous Guy”/geek) – well, Chim Sui is just a given!

Example: “Dave says he’s going to Chim Sui for a while because he wants to save up for one of those ridiculous vanity plates on his car.”


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