Did you know there are more Chinese internet users than there are Americans? You can bet that many of them are 宅男 (zháinán).
宅男 (zháinán) is slang for a male geek or nerd, and it literally means “house male.” 宅女 (zháinǚ) means a female geek or nerd. In terms of tone, it’s more or less the same as the Western version.
However, it has some differences from the Western notion of a geek or nerd. A 宅男 will spend all day alone in their room in front of their computer, entertaining themselves with games, chatting, TV dramas, and movies. They sorely lack social interaction.
A breakdown of the characters in 宅男 (zháinán) and 宅女 (zháinǚ):
宅 (zhái): house (eg. 住宅 – zhù zhái)
男 (nán): male (eg. 男孩子 - nán hái zi – boy)
女 (nǚ): female (eg. 女生 – nǚshēng - female student)
Observing below how Chinese people use the word 宅男 really brings the meaning to life.
“wǎngluò cuīshēng chū xǔduō zháinán zháinǚ, shèjiāoquān ɡènɡ zhǎi”
“The internet has led to the rise of many male and female geeks – their social circle is more narrow than before”
“zháinán zhuānyòng? yóuxì huòshèng cáinéng gōngzuò de xǐyījī “
“Made specially for male geeks? A washing machine that only works after (you) beat the video game”
“bǎi zài xǔduō zháinán zháinǚ miànqián de yī gè yánjùn wèntí shì, rúhé cáinéng bǎochí jiànkāng”
“A serious issue facing many male and female geeks is how to maintain their health”
“zǒujìn zháinán zháinǚ men de sīmì shēnghuó″
“Enter the secret life of male and female geeks“
“yángguāng zháinán: xìngfú děi yǒu zhìliàng “
“A bright and sunny geek: happiness requires quality”
As you practice this word, you might want to use it together with our Chinese vocab list for computer and internet words.
Questions? Comments? Any other thoughts on Chinese geeks and nerds or other requests for Chinese slang? Let us know!