Slang 俚語

In a way, a lot of the Cantonese that is spoken in Hong Kong is slang.  There are characters missing, and words substituted in.  There are a lot of euphemisms used in every day speak which simply make it difficult to understand as a foreign speaker.

There are a couple of good resources for slang words and phrases here and here.

Some books which may be of interest:

  • A Cantonese Book (3rd Edition) by Chan Kowk Kin and Betty Hung has a dictionary at the back of Cantonese slang
  • 香港常用俗語 (A Handy Dictionary of Hong Kong Slang) by Aman Chiu
  • A Dictionary of Cantonese Slang by Hutton Bolton

As there are already quite a few different lists around the web I thought it would be a good idea to summarise some of the ones which I have heard in addition to these.  Hopefully this list will grow over time.

I’ve broken them down into 3 sections:

General Slang

These are primarily euphemisms (Cantonese is full of them).


A play on words, basically using words of similar sounding to say something that sounds similar to an insult or offensive phrase, but is comprised of harmless words.


As the name suggests these are phrases which have a hidden meaning. They work a lot of what other words or events people link together when they hear certain things. These are beyond my Cantonese understanding at the moment.

I also summarised some stuff in a blog post back in June 2011 HERE.