The interesting usage of Chinese character “倒” [reverse]

Posted by Grace Feng on August 16, 2013

The interesting usage of Chinese character "倒" [reverse]Chinese characters 倒 dǎo, “upside down”, or “reverse”, actually can be used in all kinds of interesting ways. With the meaning of “reverse”, it can be placed between a two character word to reverse the meaning of that word.

The best way to understand this is to look at some examples.

Let’s say, “帮忙 bāngmáng” means “to help”. What if your four year old wants to help you with some difficult chores that not only he couldn’t help, but also needs your help to tidy up after his “helping”? For that kind of situation, you can say your child is “帮倒忙 bāngdàománg“.

Now let’s look at another example. People usually applaud or even give standing ovation to marvelous performance. In Chinese, this kind of reaction from the audience is called “喝彩 hècǎi“. What if the performance ends up the opposite way? Audience might start booing. In that case, we can use 倒 dǎo between 喝 hè and 彩 cǎi, which becomes 喝倒彩 hèdàocǎi.

Do you get it? Do you know any other word that you can use it this way?


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5 Responses to “The interesting usage of Chinese character “倒” [reverse]”

  1. nothing


    08-16-2013 5:31 pm

    Hi Grace, that was really interesting. I’ve never heard of those two examples before! Can you provide any more? Oh, there is a small error in your English: it should be ‘applaud’ (not ‘applause’) :-)


    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      08-17-2013 3:06 am

      Thanks for pointing out the error, 白睿, it’s corrected now :-)

      Another two I can think of: 开倒车 (driving the car backward), 使倒劲 (helping towards the wrong direction). As a matter of fact, people could be creative on this kind of usage given that the new word sounds good in the context.



  2. nothing


    08-17-2013 5:54 pm



  3. nothing


    02-20-2014 3:25 am

    Is this another example?

    合适 = appropriate/suitable
    合倒适 = perfectly UNsuitable


    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      02-21-2014 10:17 pm

      Hi Ryan, 合倒适 is not a proper expression. This way of conversion only applies to verbs, some verbs.

      Nice try though, :-)



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