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8 Hilarious Chinese Nicknames for Western Celebrities

Fruit Sister, Curly Fortune, Moldy. Did you know that these are all nicknames of Western celebrities on the Chinese interweb? 

Of course, making up nicknames is perfectly understandable. After all, names like Benedict Cumberbatch are already a mouthful to say in English. Can you imagine the official transliteration in Chinese? That would be 本尼迪克特·康伯巴奇 (Běnnídíkètè Kāngbóbāqí). What a pain to type out. 

Because of the longer names that people in the Western world tend to have, many Chinese netizens have taken it upon themselves to bequeath foreign celebrities with special and quirky names based on what they know of the celebrities. The results are often entertaining.

Here are eight celebrity nicknames that will leave you doubling over with laughter:


1. Taylor Swift – 霉霉 (méimei, Moldy)

During her early years, Taylor Swift’s Chinese nickname was 小美女 (xiǎo měi ), which meant “little beauty.” It’s worth noting that the 美 (měi) character here is the same one used for the Chinese name of America, making Taylor’s first nickname a wordplay on her being a young American beauty.

However, since Chinese fans observed her early struggles to hit number one on the Billboard charts and her unfortunate stroke of luck in romance, Taylor was then granted the nickname, 霉霉 (méimei), a homonym character that means “mold” by itself but actually refers to the second half of the word, 倒霉 (dǎo méi), which can be translated as “unlucky.” 

To this day, Taylor is fondly referred to as “Moldy.” However, despite “moldy” or “unlucky” not being the best nicknames to have, Taylor has become one of the most popular artists in China — she was even invited to close the massive 11.11 Gala in Shanghai last year! 


2. Katy Perry – 水果姐 (shuǐguǒ jiě, Fruit Sister)

As this year’s 11.11 gala closing act, Katy Perry is also a very popular celebrity in China. Her nickname’s origin is rather simple — it was inspired by her many fruit-themed costumes in the early stages of her career. 


3. Nicki Minaj – 麻辣鸡 (málàjī, Spicy Chicken)

Nicki Minaj’s nickname doesn’t have any deep meaning to it. It’s just that, in Chinese, Minaj sounds similar to the popular dish, mala ji. Funny enough, the name just stuck!


4. Benedict Cumberbatch – 卷福 (juǎn fú, Curly Luck)

Benedict Cumberbatch rose to fame after taking on the titular role of the hit TV series, Sherlock. When playing the character, Cumberbatch’s hair would be notably curly, thus accounting for the first half of his name. The second half is taken from the first character of 福尔摩斯 (Fú’ěrmósī), which is the Chinese name for Holmes. 


5. Justin Bieber – 丁日 (dīng rì, Dick)

Don’t worry! The nickname isn’t as insulting as it sounds and, in fact, does not literally mean “dick.” Netizens like calling Justin Bieber 丁日 for the simple reason that the characters look similar to his initials, J.B. Coincidentally, the character 丁 can refer to the phrase 丁丁 (dīngdīng), which colloquially means “dick.”


6. Calvin Harris – 高富帅 (gāo fù shuài, Mr. Perfect)

For DJ Calvin Harris, 高富帅 literally means “tall, rich, and handsome.” In other words, many Chinese think Calvin Harris is the living embodiment of perfection! 


7. Mariah Carey – 牛姐 (niújiě, Cow Sister)

Strangely enough, Mariah Carey’s nickname is based on a Sesame Street character that once spoofed her as a cow (牛). Because 牛 is also the first half of the slang phrase, 牛逼, which means “awesome,” Chinese netizens were quick to keep the moniker in respect of Mariah’s extraordinary vocals. 


8. Ariana Grande – 小牛牛 (xiǎo niúniú, Little Cow)

Many may agree that Ariana Grande’s singing sounds similar to Mariah Carey’s. Since Mariah is known as the Cow Sister, then it’s only right for Ariana, who entered the music industry much later, to be named, “Little Cow,” in recognition of both of the artists’ talents. 


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