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Chinese Words Used In
The English Language


cheongsam - A Chinese woman's one-piece dress that has a high neck and high slits up the outside of the thighs. This highly decorative garment is made of cotton, silk, or synthetic material and clings to the body's contours.

chop suey - A Cantonese dish that consists of small pieces of meat, chicken, etc. that are fried with rice, onions, bean sprouts, green peppers, mushrooms, or other vegetables and frequently served with soy sauce. Sometimes, chop suey is made from leftover food.

chow mein - A steamed Chinese dish that consists of fried noodles, usually in a sauce, with mushrooms, celery, onions, other Chinese vegetables, and shredded chicken or shrimp, etc.

dazibao - A word used in the People's Republic of China: for a wall poster that is written in large characters and expresses an opinion, particularly a political opinion. Such big character posters were affixed to walls as a popular method of communication. They have been used since imperial times, but more frequently since 1949 to publicize party programs.

dim sum - A Cantonese term for "heart's delight." Dim sum consists of a selection of small dishes that are served for hot snacks and lunch in China. These dishes include a selection of fried and steamed dumplings, shrimp balls, steamed buns, other sweet and savory items and Chinese pastries. Dim sum originally designated the Cantonese practice of serving small dishes in the teahouses where a cart or tray was used to convey the food to the table.

feng-shui - The ancient Chinese practice concerning the geometrical placement and arrangement of space so as to achieve harmony with the natural features of the landscape or environment. This attention to satisfying spirit influences is particularly employed when selecting a site for a grave.

ginseng - 1. A tuberous root credited, especially in the Far East, with valuable tonic properties. 2. Either of the two araliaceous plants, Panax Ginseng of China, Korea, etc. or P. quninquefolium of North America, which provide the aromatic root that is used in Chinese medicine. 3. A preparation made from it.

gung-ho - A term for "work together." Also, enthusiastic, eager, wholeheartedly.

hong - 1. In China, a group of rooms or buildings that form a warehouse, factory, etc., particularly one of the foreign-owned factories formerly operating in Canton. Also, in Hong Kong, a trading establishment. In addition, the corporation of Chinese merchants at Canton who held a monopoly of the trade with Europeans.

k'ai shu - A script that was developed during the 4th century and which is now used as the usual script for everyday purposes for the Chinese language..

kowtow - The former Chinese custom or practice of touching the ground with the forehead as a sign of extreme respect or submission, or ass an act of worship.. Also, to act in an obsequious, deferential way.

kung fu - The Chinese form of karate. It uses kicks, strikes, throws, body turns, dodges, holds, crouches and starts, leaps, falls, handsprings, and somersaults. Kung fu has more techniques that involve the open hand than does karate.

kylin - A mythical hooved Chinese creature of composite form (unicorn) that appears on Chinese and Japanese pottery. It is a portent of serenity or prosperity. li - The Chinese etiquette or rules governing behavior toward others that must be observed in order to maintain harmony with the moral principles of nature. Also, a unit of distance, which is equal to approximately one third of a mile.

mah-jong - A game of Chinese origin that is usually played by four persons and uses 136 or 144 domino-like pieces called tiles, divided into five or six suits. The objective is to accumulate a winning combination of pieces. It is also spelled mahjong, mahjongg, majiang, ma-chiang, or a hyphenated variation of these names.

pak-choi - A Chinese cabbage-like plant, Brassica chinevsis, that has a loose head covered by dark-green leaves.

pe-tsai - A kind of Chinese cabbage that has an elongated head of broad stalked leaves resembling celery. The literal meaning is "white vegetables."

putonghua - Standard Mandarin, the official Chinese spoken language used by the Peoples Republic of China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. It uses the pronunciation of Beijing.

sampan - Any of various small boats used In the Far East that are propelled by a stern-oar (or stern-oars) and provided with a roofing of mats.

san-hsien - A Chinese three-stringed, fretless lute that has a long fingerboard, and is made in several sizes. Traditionally, the body consists snakeskin stretched over a square resonator.

souchong - A variety of fine black Chinese tea that is grown in India and Ceylon.

subgum - A Chinese dish of mixed vegetables, such as water chestnuts, mushrooms, bean sprouts, etc. The term is Cantonese pidgin for mixed vegetable dishes.

Tai Chi - A traditional Chinese mind-body relaxation exercise consisting of 108 intricate exercise sequences performed in very slow controlled movements. It is believed that Tai Chi was developed by a Taoist priest during the Song dynasty. Also, in Taoism and Neo-Confucianism, the ultimate point, constituting the source of the life force and its limit.

Te - In Taoism, the essence of Tao, which is inherent in all beings. The virtue of power inherent in a person or thing that exists in harmony with the Tao.

tong - A hall or meeting place. In China, a tong may also be an association, society or political power. In the United States, a tong often refers to an association or secret society of Chinese immigrants. Such a society may have been formed originally as a benevolent or fraternal organization, although tongs are frequently associated with underworld criminal activities.

wok - A large bowl-shaped metal frying-pan that is widely used in cooking Chinese cookery.

wonton - In Chinese cooking, a small round dumpling or roll that contains a savory filling, particularly of minced pork and spices, that is usually eaten boiled in, and served with, soup, although sometimes fried and served as a side dish. Also, a soup containing won tons.

wushu - Martial art. The correct term for the more commonly (and incorrectly) used term, 'kung fu.'

yang - In Chinese philosophy, one of the two fundamental and opposing forces of the universe that influences the destinies of creatures and things. Yang is the masculine or bright and active of the two opposing forces.

yin - In Chinese philosophy, one of the two fundamental and opposing forces of the universe that influences the destinies of creatures and things. Yin is the feminine or dark and negative of the two opposing forces.



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