Shop Digital Version Subscribe to the Print Edition TWOC TV

Top Characters of 2014

Which Character Defines 2014?


As 2014 comes to an end, the season for countdowns and year-end roundups begins. Which characters are the most definitive of 2014 in China? Which character best describes a Chinese person’s 2014? Every year, the Commercial Press co-hosts a roundup of the Chinese characters and words of the year. These characters and phrases are usually representative of current events and state policies. While the winner won’t be revealed until December 19th, let’s take a look at some of the top characters for 2014.

1.   Slang: Cute/Moe, and Sunshine Boy

This is the funniest of times, this is the cutest of times. 萌(méng, cute) or 萌萌哒(méngméngdā, cute) is now a popular buzzword from which has arisen multiple internet memes and slang terms. The character 萌 initially refers to the sprouting of plants and trees in spring, but now its most commonly used definition is that of the Japanese “moe“, which refers a specific yet undefinable “cute” and “pubescent” trait found in cute girls. Of course, the meaning of the slang word has expanded from its original manga usage to internet slang terms and everyday life. Leonardo DiCaprio for one has somehow become the face for the buzzphrase “感觉自己萌萌哒” (feel that I myself am cutesy).

Indulging in my cuteness: 感觉自己萌萌哒

Indulging in my cuteness: 感觉自己萌萌哒

While sometimes it’s used in the same way to troll someone cute or sexy like Miley Cyrus or Taylor Swift, these words could also be used to express one’s fondness for someone else or even oneself. So do you 觉得自己萌萌哒?

nuannan 400

No one wants a diaosi, but a “sunshine boy” – a new term that emerged this year – is highly sought after.  暖男(nuǎnnán), literally “warm man”, is a considerate, nice man with a smile that brightens up your life. A “warm man” tends to do household chores, cook, understand others’ feelings and emotions, care for his wife, and love his family. All in all, the combination of a Disney Prince Charming and an ideal chick flick charmer. Call yourself a 暖男 and you may be able to capture a few girls’ hearts.


2.  Political: Law, frugality, and rule


Among the top words, several characters and words are strongly political, putting an emphasis on the law and the anti-corruption campaign. 法 (fǎ, the law) has been pushed as party directives in CCP meetings this year, and so has 依法治国(yī fǎ zhì guó, ruling the country by law).

Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign has led to several significant political figures‘ demise, as well as a frugality movement among officials nationwide. Naturally, both the character for frugality (廉, lián) and the word anti-corruption (反腐, fǎn fǔ) from the slogan “反腐倡廉” (Against Corruption, Promote Frugality) made it to the Top 10 lists.

Xi’s nickname 习大大(Xí Dàda, Papa Xi/Uncle Xi) is also a Top 10 word, as well as his signature term “Chinese Dream” (中国梦).


3.  Social: Rise, Internet, and Smog.


Inflation continues, and real estate has continued to rise, 涨 (zhǎng).  The Chinese Character of 2010 remains a major concern for common people four years later.

The internet (网, wǎng) made it into the Top 10 characters as well, with online communities and social platforms thriving more than ever. Thanks to the internet boom,  E-commerce, 电商 diàn shāng), had an amazing year, as the November 11 shopping carnival broke new records,  the Double Twelve shopping day followed with success, and Jack Ma took Alibaba to the New York Stock Exchange.

The character for smog,  mái, has also been a top 10 character more than once, clouding up the sky as well as people’s physical and mental health. Truth be told, it is likely to stay. Thus, the APEC 蓝 (APEC Blue, the rare blue sky and clean air in Beijing during the APEC meetings) was extraordinarily unreasonable. It became a word that describes something fleeting, too good to last. APEC? Air Pollution Eventually Controlled.

The Chinese word for “come out of the closet”, 出柜 chūguì, has been in the Chinese language for a while, but it is the first time for the topic of homosexuality to be acknowledged as a Top 10 Word of the Year. Perhaps thanks to the celebrities that have openly announced their sexuality, and the unstoppable frenzy of Bromance and slash fiction,  the LGBTQ community could finally surface in mainstream media.

What is your character and word of the year 2014? Vote or check out the full lists here!


Image courtesy of the Commercial Presssinoergy.comForbes China and Guangming Online.

Follow us

Subscribe to our newsletter