Glossary

Glossary for [Mostly] Historical Terms


[There are lots of terms that don’t translate well from [ancient] Chinese to English, so they’re kept in pinyin. Here’s a glossary of all the terms I use and their meanings. If something is missing, just let me know and I will add it to the list! 🖤]

*[Uppercase will be used to refer to or by a specific person, while lowercase will be used generally.]


Aijia: literally: “this mourning one.” How the Empress Dowager refers to herself

Bengong: literally: “this Palace,” how certain females [with palaces] refer to themselves

Benguan: literally: “this official/ minister.” How officials refer to themselves

Benwang/ Benwangzi: literally: “this wang or wangzi.” How wangs, wangyes, and wangzis refer to themselves

Biaoge / Biaodi: older male / younger male cousin via female line

Biaomei / Biaojie: younger female / older female cousin via female line

Bieqie: literally: “this concubine.” How concubines refer to themselves when speaking to someone of higher status than them [usually their husbands (Laoyes)]

Cefei: a side concubine or consort

Chen: literally: “this official.” How officials refer to themselves

Chennu: literally: “this official’s daughter.” How daughters of officials refer to themselves when speaking to someone of higher status than them

Da: prefix for [polite] “old(er)” or “big”

Daren: a government official or minister

Di: born from the legitimate or main wife

Didi: younger brother, not necessarily related, can be used to denote familiarity

‘Er: a suffix used to denote familiarity

Erchen: literally: “your son.” How sons of emperors [wangzis or wangyes] refer to themselves in front of their imperial parents

Face: not the literal “face.” It’s a mix of reputation, honor, and respect; “Losing face” = Being disgraced or ashamed

Fei: consort

Fu: official residence, manor

Furen: [usually married] madam, Mrs., wife

Fuwang: imperial father

Gege: older brother, not necessarily related, can be used to denote familiarity

Gonghzu: princess, usually daughter of the Emperor

Gongzi: sir, son of an official or minister

Guifei: Imperial Consort, a higher rank than Fei (consort)

Guniang: [usually unmarried and generic term for] girl, young woman, young lady

Jiejie: older sister, not necessarily related, can be used to denote familiarity

Laoda: boss, leader of a criminal gang

Laozi: literally: “I, your father,” used vulgarly to signify superiority

Laoye: lord, master

Mei or Meimei: younger sister, not necessarily related, can be used to denote familiarity

Minnu: literally: “this commoner woman.” How daughters of ordinary families refer to themselves when speaking to someone of higher status than them

Mufei: [royalty referring to] imperial mother: a fei

Muhou: [royalty referring to] imperial mother: the Empress

Nubi: literally: “this slave servant,” used by female slaves or servants to refer to themselves

Nucai: literally: “this slave servant,” used by male slaves or servants to refer to themselves

Shaoye: young lord or young master of a household, usually sons of a Laoye

Shijie / Shimei: older martial sister / younger martial sister

Shixiong / Shidi: older martial brother / younger martial brother

Shizi: heir to a noble title or fu

Shu: born from a concubine

Taizi: crown prince, heir apparent to the throne

Taizifei: crown princess or consort, the legitimate/ main wife of Taizi

Tangge / Tangdi: older male / younger male patrilineal cousin

Tangmei / Tangjie: younger female / older female patrilineal cousin

Tongfang [yatous]: Maidservants who sleep with their masters without a status

Tsundere: A person who is outwardly cold, but deep and passionate on the inside

(Eating) Vinegar: being jealous

Wang or Wangye: prince, usually brothers of the Emperor

Wangfei: the main, legitimate consort of a Wang or Wangye

Wangzi: prince, usually sons of the Emperor

Xiaojie: [usually unmarried] young miss, young lady

Yatou: [more informal or derogatory] girl

Ye: lord, master, also used to refer to oneself informally or jocularly

Yiniang: father’s concubines

Zhen: the royal “I,” used by Emperors to refer to themselves


*****[If something is missing, feel free to let me know!]

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