Home / Culture / Cantonese Slang of the Week: Act Like a Crab
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Cantonese Slang of the Week: Act Like a Crab

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!



Act Like a Crab | “Baan Haai”

There are several meanings to this phrase – pretentious, playing dumb, big-headed, a liar… you know, all the good stuff. There’s no clear explanation as to where this phrase came from, but some say that it originated from fishermen who found it incredibly easy to catch crabs. The reason being that, despite their dangerous and harmful appearances, these sea creatures are not the best at hiding. In fact, their quick and sudden movements in efforts to escape actually make them easier to spot. Eventually, the phrase “acting like a crab” came to describe people who are not what they appear to be, and pretend to be something they are not.


Read more! Discover more funny stories about Hong Kong on Localiiz.

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