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Cantonese Slang of the Week: Blow water

By Jenny Leung 8 November 2018 | Last Updated 18 December 2020

Made-up vocabulary known only 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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Blow water: 吹水 (ceoi1 seoi2)

“Blow water” is the Chinese equivalent of chit-chatting. Whether it’s catching up with an old friend, or gossiping with your colleagues by the water cooler, we’ve all been in one of those conversations where time flies by and before you know it, you’ve spent the whole day yakking away. It might be difficult to connect its direct translation to its actual meaning, but if you think about it, your mouth dries up after you’ve been talking for a long time, right? As if all the “water” in your mouth has been “blown out”? Sounds silly we know, but it also makes so much sense!

How to use:

“That middle-aged man is ‘chui sui’-ing so loudly on the phone, it’s getting on everyone’s nerves.”

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Jenny Leung

Senior editor

Born in Hong Kong and raised in the UK, Jenny grew up with the best of both worlds. She loves just about anything to do with music and doesn’t shy away from belting out a tune or two when it comes to karaoke. If she’s not out and about exploring the city and practising her photography skills, she’s probably tucked up in bed with a book or glued to her laptop doing her online shopping.