Chinese english pinyin dictionary

As a Chinese teacher, among the many interesting questions about learning Mandarin Chinese asked by my students, there is one that left me a very deep impression: One day, a young man from the US asked me “What does ‘ bǎobèi ’ mean?

From Harvard Health

I was quite surprised khổng lồ hear that because this should not be a difficult word for my students who had been learning Chinese for a while, or at least I thought so…

So I didn’t answer him directly but instead asked back “You don’t know what it means?!” He reacted a little shyly & said “Well, I know it means ‘baby’…I just want to lớn figure out if that’s the only meaning of this word? Or, if it has any other use that I don’t know yet?”

As I started khổng lồ think about how lớn explain this word in a correct context to lớn him, he went on explaining: “Yesterday, my Chinese girlfriend accidentally sent me a message with this word & it confused me that she called someone else ‘baby’ other than me…”

From IndiLeakf

I finally found out what he was worried about. It makes good sense for someone khổng lồ worry why their lover would gọi someone else “baby”. It later turned out that his girlfriend was talking with a customer service guy on Taobao, one of the largest E-commerce platform in China, about something she just bought: It is very common in đài loan trung quốc for people to gọi the thành phầm they bought online as “baby”. Read about how lớn say I love you & other expressions in Chinese?

From SC Magazine

In fact, this is not a single case. Many Chinese learners have questions about the word “ bǎobèi ” (宝贝, Baby ). After all, calling a young kid “baby” has a completely different feeling and context from saying this to lớn a lover. Especially when taking the cultural difference between china and other countries into consideration, the usage of a word lượt thích this could be quite tricky!

Today, let’s take a thorough look at the word “ bǎobèi ” so that in the future you can use this word correctly without feeling embarrassed.

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“宝” From Baidu Hanyu
“贝” From Baidu Hanyu

Here are the basic meanings of the word “宝贝”

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Treasure, precious things.

From Illust AC

Baby, little children.

From Youtube


From CRIAmong the three main meanings of “宝贝” listed above, the first one, treasure, is the closest khổng lồ its original meaning back in ancient time. We will talk about the etymology of it later.

First things first: How lớn use this word in a correct context?

The most commonly used meaning of Baobei is similar khổng lồ “baby” in English, it’s used to lớn refer khổng lồ a lover or a young child.

Between two lovers, “宝贝” is more commonly used lớn refer to the female tiệc ngọt rather than the male. But there’s nothing wrong in calling your boyfriend “宝贝”!

You can also điện thoại tư vấn a young child “宝贝” khổng lồ show your love. In this scenario, the word carries more meaning of cuteness.

It is quite common to use it as an adjective before words like “老婆” (wife, lǎopo), “女儿” (Daughter, nǚér ), “儿子” (son, ér’zi). You can say “宝贝老婆” (bǎobèi lǎopo, Dear wife), “宝贝儿子” (bǎobèi ér’zi, baby son) in personal and intimate settings. For example, when two female friends are chatting, one might ask the other:

老婆 Your browser does not tư vấn the audio element.

女儿 Your browser does not support the audio element.

儿子 Your browser does not support the audio element.

Nǐ de bǎobèi ér’zi jǐsuì le ?


“How old is your son?”

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From Shuttlerstock

It is also natural for a man khổng lồ say this khổng lồ his wife:

Bǎobèi lǎopo ,zánmen wǎnshang chī shénme ?


(Darling, what are we going to eat tonight?)

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Of course, people still use “宝贝” lớn refer to lớn something they think is highly valuable and they love a lot, lượt thích for a man, his “宝贝” could be a fancy new oto or a cool watch, for a woman, her new shoes, purse could be her “宝贝”. But this usage of “宝贝” has a hilarious tone & will not be used in a formal situation. Consider “baby” in English. Interestingly, even when using this word to refer to a thing, the word has a personification effect!

Zhè liàng bǎomǎ kěshì tāde bǎobèi !


This BMW is his baby!

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Xem thêm: Việt Giải Trí Mới Nhất 24H, Tin Tức Giải Trí Mới Nhất 24H

From 1Zoom ME

In spoken Chinese, you can add the affix “儿” (ér) after “宝贝” to lớn make it sounds more intimate. It is not uncommon for two female best friends to điện thoại tư vấn each other “宝贝儿” (bǎobèir). You can also hotline someone or something, or your pet “大宝贝/小宝贝” (dà bǎobèi, xiǎo bǎobèi, big/little baby).

宝贝儿 Your browser does not support the audio element.

大宝贝/小宝贝 Your browser does not support the audio element.

“宝贝” has also been a popular mạng internet word in china recently. Due lớn the rapid development of online shopping, it has been widely used by the online siêu thị owners và customer service staff to lớn refer to what people buy from their shop. So if you have ever bought anything from big online platforms lượt thích Taobao or JD, you will not find it strange when you see this:

Nín de bǎobèi jiāngzài míngtiān sòngdá 。


Your “baby” will be delivered by tomorrow.

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Another popular online word related khổng lồ this scenario is “亲” (qīn) which has a few mixed meanings of “relatives, close friends, dears”. When a support guy says this word to lớn you, it always means “my dear customer”. & almost all the online shops use this when they talk lớn their customers!

亲 Your browser does not tư vấn the audio element.

“宝贝” is also used to lớn refer to female models và beautiful girls, especially in sports games. So you can see phrases like “足球宝贝” (zúqiú bǎobèi) or “篮球宝贝” (lánqiú bǎobèi).(Football baby/ Basketball baby)

足球宝贝 Your browser does not tư vấn the audio element.

篮球宝贝 Your browser does not support the audio element.

Now I believe that you have gotten a better idea about the use of the word Baobei. Next, let’s explore the historical development of this word, mainly the second character, “贝” (bèi). It has something to vì with a very important thing: money!

The original meaning of “贝”

In ancient times, the character “贝” originally referred lớn seashells, an early currency. This is because shells were rare objects to lớn ancient Chinese mainlanders who lived far from the sea. So, the pictographic character “贝” received another meaning, money. Gradually, the meaning was extended to lớn mean valuable or precious things.

From Tanji

From Decoding Chinese

“贝”, as a radical, helps to size many other characters all of which have money-related meanings, like wealth & treasure. Two examples are “账” (zhàng, bills) and “财” (cái, wealth).

账 Your browser does not support the audio element.

财 Your browser does not tư vấn the audio element.

Meanwhile, the original meaning of “贝”, seashells, has been kept until today. As most words in Chinese today are formed by two characters, seashells in Chinese is “贝壳” (bèi ké).

But today, “宝贝” doesn’t have much to bởi with seashells, except for children who love to lớn collect “贝壳” by the seaside!

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