Online Buzzword: Duang是什么意思?

The newest online Chinese buzzword in 2015 is “duang”… have you seen or heard it before? If you use any sort of Chinese online social media, you’re bound to have already seen it countless times.

Most simply put, it’s an onomatopoeia, a written word that phonetically imitates a syllable’s sound. It all seems to have started with Hong Kong kung fu star Jackie Chan, who in 2004 was featured in a shampoo commercial where he famously defended his sleek, black hair using the rhythmic-sounding word “duang” in a long first tone.

The word resurfaced again recently after Mr. Chan posted it on his Weibo page. Thousands of users then began to flood him with comments, using the word in many different contexts. There’s no perfect translation, but you could use it as an adjective to give emphasis to the word that follows it. A kitten might be “duang cute”, for example. Or you might be “very duang confused” by this blog.

For readers of Chinese characters, the Jackie Chan theme is also apparent from the quirky way in which the word is written: a combination of Chan’s names written in Chinese. The top radical being “成” (Chéng, Mr. Chan’s Chinese family name) and the lower radical being “龙” (Lóng, his Chinese name, meaning dragon).