Numbers in Chinese (4 Facts that surprised me about Chinese numbers)

  1. Four is Unlucky:
  • The number four (四 sì) is notoriously avoided in many contexts due to its pronunciation being similar to the word for “death” (死 sǐ). This superstition is so strong that many buildings in China skip the fourth floor, similar to the way some Western buildings skip the thirteenth floor.
  1. Eight is Fortunate:
  • Conversely, the number eight (八 bā) is considered extremely lucky because its pronunciation is close to the word for “prosper” or “wealth” (发 fā). This belief in its auspiciousness was vividly illustrated when the Beijing Olympics were scheduled to start at 8:08 pm on 08/08/2008.
  1. Homophonic Nuances:
  • Beyond four and eight, other numbers are also considered lucky or unlucky based on their pronunciation. For example, the number nine (九 jiǔ) sounds like “long-lasting” (久 jiǔ) and is often associated with longevity, making it favorable for weddings and other joyous occasions.
  1. Cultural Influence in Bargaining:
  • When bargaining or setting prices, numbers are chosen not just for their economic but also their phonetic implications. For instance, a price ending in eight might be more readily accepted due to its positive connotations, whereas a price involving four could be harder to settle upon due to its negative associations.

Did you know about these nuances or this is as jaw dropping for you as it is for me?


I just knew that “520” (wǔ èr líng) can be a cute love confession because it reads similarly to “I love you” (wǒ ài nǐ). That’s sooo cute

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666 – “cool” or “nice”. 666 (pinyin: liùliùliù) represents 溜溜溜 (pinyin: liùliùliù); or smooth/slick (comes from Chinese gaming slang, where gamers would put ‘666’ in the chat after seeing another showing an impressive skill) :open_mouth:

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WOW! Did not even notice that, nice addition Holly

I noticed when I lived in China my apartment building have no 4th floor :joy: Just like back home, lots of streets don’t have a number 13 house!

I also love the Chinese number slang I discovered recently, been dropping in 995 into texts whenever I get the chance hahah

We also have a great blog on Chinese numbers! :point_down:

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This is the cutest for me!

About 666, I’ve seen people in variety shows use the hand gesture for 6, moving the hand three times to signify ‘really cool’ , but it was a few years ago and I don’t know if it is still used today