What are some words in Cantonese that I should know?

Well, I’ll assume that you want to remember more than some cringe tourist level phrases to just get by.

Usually, Cantonese is a spoken language and is rarely written but there are too many Chinese T shirts with words designed to insult tourists that can’t read Chinese, so I insist on adding written characters instead of romanized pronunciations.
It’ll save you from a lot of humiliation, I promise.

“this dumb foreigner can’t understand chinese”


Cringe tourist words:

  • Hallo obviously equals hello
  • 唔該 is a super word that can mean “excuse me/ please/ thanks” at the same time
  • 唔好意思/對唔住= sorry
  • 多謝 = thanks
  • 人 = human
  • 錢 = money
  • 公廁= public toilet
  • 巴士 = bus
  • 港鐵 = MTR, train service in Hong Kong (full name: mass transit railway)
  • 電車 (slang: 丁丁) = tram (only available on Hong Kong island)
  • 小巴 = minibus (a cuter looking bus but more expensive)

red roofed minibus = motorized death

The green roofed mini buses have more organized routes and their drivers are less sociopathic.

  • 999 = EMERGENCY phone number for police/ambulance/firemen
  • 電話 = phone (all kinds of phone), literally means “electric talk”
  • 八達通 = octopus card, (cashless payment method in Hong Kong)
  • bye bye = goodbye
  • 迪士尼 = disney
  • 海洋公園 = Ocean Park (rides + mountain cable car + aquariums all in one , plus cheaper than Disney)
  • 食飯 = to eat a meal
  • 飲茶 = BEST cantonese meal/banquet. Usually with relatives or oligarch friends. Takes place in a wine tower (酒樓) or tea tower (茶樓)
  • 博物館 = museum
  • 肉 = meat
  • 魚 = fish
  • 食齋 = eat vegetarian

Insults: (5 stars for usefulness) Nothing lets you gain respect faster from locals than mastering their profanity. Use these phrases in any scenarios, and I mean ANY.

  • 屌你老母 = fuck you (not literally)
  • 頂你個肺 also = fuck you
  • 屌 = fuck (as a verb)
  • 發夢啦 = in your dreams
  • 白痴 = idiot
  • 黐線 = deranged
  • 收皮啦 = shut the fuck up
  • 食屎啦 = go eat your own shit
  • 人妖 = homophobic f word

Health and human anatomy: for obvious scientific research purposes 😉

  • 陰道 = vagina (literally means “dark path”)
  • 食道 = alimentary canal (literally means “food path”)
  • 肛門 = anus (literally means “butt door”)
  • 尿 = pee
  • 口 = mouth
  • 癌症 = cancer
  • 新冠肺炎 = covid 19
  • 性交 = have sex, literally means “gender exchange”


  • 選舉 = election
  • 特首= chief executive (top government official in Hong Kong)
  • 中共 = CPC, communist party of china
  • 政變= coup
  • 暗殺 = assassinate
  • 奴役 = to enslave

Note: there are many levels of knowledge and this post will only bring you to the bottom 3 levels. So far, I have not known anyone who has created Cantonese, except maybe Jesus Christ himself.

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