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Black In Chinese

The Meaning and Usage of “Black” in Chinese

In Chinese, “black color” is黑色 (hēi sè). And just like in other countries, the color black in Chinese culture is used to signify evil, wicked, or negative aspects in life. When the word 黑 (hēi) is combined with other words, it can express different negative meanings. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

黑心 (hēi xīn)

心 (xīn) means “heart”, so this combination literally means “black heart”, and it refers to someone with evil intentions in mind.

他是一个黑心的商人。(Tā shì yí ɡè hēi xīn de shānɡrén.)

He is a black-hearted businessman.

(This means that this businessman cheats when doing business, or is dishonest in his dealings with others).

黑手 (hēi shǒu)

手 (shǒu) means “hand”, so this combination literally means “black hand”, and it refers to someone who does evil actions.

他就是那个背后黑手。(Tā jiù shì nà ɡè bèi hòu hēi shǒu.)

He was the evil backstage manipulator.

(This means that this kind of person does things in secret to bring about bad things to others).

黑脸 (hēi liǎn)

脸 (liǎn) means “face, so this combination literally means “black face”. When you feel anger or hatred, the Chinese term for this is “black face”. The English equivalent would be “black mood”, which describes the emotion more directly. So to say “黑脸 (hēi liǎn)”, would indicate that the person must be upset.

每天一看到他的黑脸,我也变得不高兴了。(Měitiān yí kàndào tā de hēi liǎn, wǒ yě biàn dé bù ɡāo xìnɡ le.)

I also tend to be unhappy everyday as soon as I see his black face.

黑马 (hēi mǎ)

马 (mǎ) means “horse”, so this combination literally means “black horse”. The English equivalent would be “dark horse”, which means an unknown or little-regarded competitor that surprises others by winning.

在这次选举中,他是一匹黑马。(Zài zhè cì xuánjǔ zhōnɡ, tā shì yì pǐ hēi mǎ.)

In this election, he is a dark horse.

(And by winning the election, he will surprise others by beating the stronger candidates.)

As you can see from these examples, Chinese and English share some similar expressions with the use of the word “black”. If you would like to share any other expressions or would like to ask for the Chinese equivalent of English ones, please don’t hesitate to comment!

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