Saturday, April 4, 2009

from: Roger P.
date: Mon, Mar 23, 2009 at 8:39 AM
subject: Co-worker's Tattoo

Hi there,

I was talking about your website with a co-worker of mine, in reference to one of your articles. She wanted me to find out if the tattoo she got really means what she wanted it to mean (obviously!). Here is a pic of her tattoo. She thinks it means "Bitch." What does it look like to you?



Co-worker's Tattoo

Why would anyone wanted to label themselves in such negative way?

Typically bitch as noun is translated as and 婊子 as slang.

What this woman tattooed really means "cheap whore".


  1. OK, I love reading your blog. I think I love it so much because with both of my tattoos, I have said "I will never get japanese writing seeing as you never know what it really means." This blog just really confirms that! I feel horrible for some of these people!

  2. ...although I must say that it does look quite nice. Not in the word's significance, just that it's quite prettily written, at least compared to the others on the site.
    Well, only one thing for it, after seeing all these disasters: chaperone my friends if they get tattooed in Chinese or Japanese.
    Love this site, by the way! And a worthy mission too. :)

  3. So, I guess it's some kind of a good news-bad news thing: the bad news is that it is not what she wanted, and the good one being that it is even worse than what she wanted. Nor a bad deal, all in all.

  4. This is one of the best. I get asked for tattoo designs a lot via my Sanskrit calligraphy website and I'm sometimes tempted to write something tongue in cheek...

  5. to the Anonymous at 09:13 pm: If only I could rate the comments, I'd give it 100% Full point. Awesome comment! :)))))

  6. The funny thing is, people who are most likely to get the tattoo right are least likely to get an Asian-language tattoo in the first place. I mean, if I saw a Chinese girl with an English tat saying "Great Girl" I'd think she was weird, even though the language is correct.

    and to this one, all I can say is: bwahahahaha!

  7. this is awesome on so many levels. and really, the impermanence of the scribbling just sends it home, doesn't it? only an American idiot would consider tattooing the word "bitch" on themselves, and in a language they don't speak or understand in an effort to give off the false impression of their wit and cleverness. you have just got to love seeing people crash and burn like this - I sure as hell do.

  8. OK, I don't speak Chinese, but I wonder if you have this right. According to, and Google Translate, 贱女 means "low woman". Sounds like a good translation for "bitch".

    I fed those other two words to and for 婊子 it gives "prostitute/whore". For 母狗 it gives "bitch."

    Now that last one sounds correct, except the character breaks down into "female dog". So the word does mean "bitch" in the formal sense, but here we're using it as slang. Does Chinese slang use the same nasty-female-dog metaphor that we use in English?

  9. @issac32767,

    There are two translations, one is literal and other is slang.

    Bitch literal translation is "female dog", therefore 母狗 in Chinese.

    Bitch slang translation is 婊子.

    FYI, "Son of a bitch" is "婊子養的", which means "bitch's offspring".

  10. @isaac32767

    See, therein lies the problem. You "don't speak Chinese" yet you "wonder if you (tian) has this right". Instead of someone who actually speaks the language, you would rather trust and Google Translate. I'm sure a lot of these people with tattoos did the same.

    Personally, I would be insulted - but tian was gracious enough to respond with a thorough explanation.

  11. Well said, Yokohama'bama.

    If you don't speak the language, it's hard to effectively make a point about what a word in that language does or does not mean :/

  12. Why would anyone wanted to label themselves in such negative way?

    "Bitch" is a common target of "reclamation" in certain strands of contemporary feminism (cf. Bitch Magazine). But then I'm not sure how the cause is advanced by having the word tattooed in a foreign script that not even 1 in 100 will understand (assuming this person lives in the U.S.) and that isn't even an accurate translation to begin with.

  13. Seems like the intended meaning of the word "bitch" in this context is more like "a woman who is headstrong and doesn't care what anyone else thinks." See entry #4 in Urban Dictionary, although I don't think cruelty figures in myself. Interesting that this word can have completely opposite connotations: either strong-willed or submissive.

    I'm not sure what the best translation of "headstrong woman" would be, maybe "恶女" like from the TV show?

  14. "Bitch" or "Cheap whore", huh?Wow....either way, that's a really unfortunate tattoo.

  15. >The funny thing is, people who are most likely to get the tattoo right are least likely to get an Asian-language tattoo in the first place. I mean, if I saw a Chinese girl with an English tat saying "Great Girl" I'd think she was weird, even though the language is correct.

    Certainly would be more worth your time to get a tattoo that means something in a society where tattoos have positive connotations.

    In plenty of Asian locales, a tattoo screams I HAVE TIES TO AN UGLY VIOLENT ORGANIZED CRIME TRADITION, which is certainly not something most Westerners are out to prove (though sometimes I wonder...).

  16. Chinese people often call people who are mischievous 贱. My relatives often use the phrases 贱人, 你很贱, or 贱 in response to something someone you know does when they fuck with you.

    In that context I can see how 贱女 would work as bitch without the bad connotations associated with the English word. Although I've never heard anyone say 贱女 it is feasible it could be common in another dialect.

    Usually I stand behind all the translations done by this site but this one just seems somewhat off considering what I know.

  17. For what it's worth, I find that 贱女孩 is the Chinese title of the Lindsay Lohan/Tina Fey film Mean Girls. See:

    I am not sure if this means anything or not, since movie titles are not always translated literally.

    But still, I can't quite imagine that the Chinese movie distributor would give a title to a mainstream (non-porno) movie that literally means "cheap whore."

    Something fishy is going on, but I cannot claim to know what exactly 贱女 means as slang.


  18. It's like those dumb sweatpants that have things like "PRINCESS" across the ass in sparkly paint. They're a fair warning to the rest of us.

  19. it could mean slut.

  20. OK, here's the deal:

    贱 on it's own mean "cheap", not just in the monetary sense, but more broadly signifying "of low value".

    So, Tofu33, when your relatives say 你很贱 (literal translation: you are very 贱), the implication is that you don't value yourself much because you just submit to the other person's bullying.

    As for the tattoo 贱女, there is nothing here that literally means "whore" per se, but the problem is that, like in English, if you see the words "cheap girl", then the most likely association to enter your mind would be something along the lines of "cheap whore".

    In any case, the chinese word 贱女 has different connotations compared with "bitch", and I'm sure that is not what the owner of this tattoo intended to convey.

  21. To the first Anonymous:
    Who says you can't know what it means. Just learn the language, duh! Japanese isn't a hard language and will cover a couple thousand hanzi. I found kanji/hanzi to be the easiest part of studying Japanese.

  22. I study chinese thats how i found this link. some people are just Dumb. I guess its good if you want chinese guys to think your a white cheap whore. LOL I think people just jump on a Bandwagon by getting these tatoos. without Knowing anything about kanji or china. at least they see me as smart when i speak Mandarin

  23. I believe you Tian. But what about 'chou san ba'? For a related but less vulgar meaning there's 'po fu' (shrew)...not to mention that 'nu qiang ren' (female strongperson) occasionally serves as a stand-in for 'bitch' even though on it's own it's not insulting.

    My favorite word, though, is the Taiwanese (I know, that's not the same as Mandarin) 'pua mba' which means something along the lines of a skanky whore-bitch.

  24. @Yokohama'bama

    Dude... the person was asking a question. Chill. One can not effectively learn without making mistakes or asking questions.

    Maybe you should learn the nuances of polite English?

  25. I used to think "母狗" just meant "female dog" and was not an insult-word, but in the last few years I've started hearing it used to mean "bitch" as an insult in China. The people using it are students and young people who speak enough English to understand the meaning of "bitch" in English as an insult, so maybe they're just doing it to be funny & cool, or maybe it's a sort of cross-cultural spread of insults... Watch out for when kids in the U.S. start calling each other "turtle egg."

  26. There's no close translation in Chinese has the equal spirit of "Bitch" that used in today's American culture. The closest ones I can think of is 潑婦, 悍婦, and 野蠻女.

    潑婦 is a shrew, but in here, a woman who ready to put up a big scene anytime in public. Her only goal is to drain her opponent's energy until they gave in whatever she wants as the result.

    悍婦 is a virago, a negative way to calling a warrior like woman who has masculine strength or spirit. 悍婦 doesn't always equal 潑婦, think Lara Croft the Tomb Raider for example.

    野蠻女 is an arrogant bully, who does not respect or care about anyone else but herself. She curses and bully physically to force others to be out of her way. She does not negotiate, and never hesitate to attack other people at anytime.