Your Little Sister Is Popular

Over the past year or so the expression 你妹 (literally, “your little sister”) is pretty popular. You might guess that it’s kind of dirty, based on other common vulgar phrases involving mothers or grandmothers, and you’d be kind of right. It’s clearly not a polite phrase, but it seems to be more often used in a flippant way among friends rather than a vulgar way to start fights.

One of the means by which the phrase 你妹 is getting more exposure is through the crazy popular new game “找你妹” (literally, “Look for Your Little Sister,” although that’s not how the name is really understood). I first noticed this game a couple weeks ago while riding public transportation. I’m seeing it played on iPhones and iPads everywhere around Shanghai. It’s especially interesting to me because it looks so lame, despite being so popular. You basically scroll through a bunch of little drawings of objects, and click on the ones you’re told to find. Whee.

It looks like this:



There’s even a video on YouTube about how a kid played 找你妹 all night and went blind. (Well, I guess there are allegedly more embarrassing ways to go blind…) You can see footage of the game in action in parts of the clip:

As for the recent upsurge in usage of the phrase 你妹, it’s kind of interesting, and Baidu offers an explanation (in Chinese, of course). I’m not going to try to explain it because I’m not personally super familiar with all the nuances of its usage yet, but this is exactly the type of situation where having a group of young Chinese teachers on staff comes in super handy, so I’m going to have to get into this topic in the AllSet Learning office. (Anyone interested in it or have a link to an explanation as good or better than Baidu’s? The other explanations I could find were a bit lacking.)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. light487 Says: April 9, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Seems like a “hidden object game” without the objects being hidden.. so I can sort of see the appeal from that point of view. My wife, and all her Chinese friends, are into “Candy Crush Saga” on Facebook.. this is basically a Bejewelled-clone (match 3 style game).. but for some reason, suggestions to play other Bejewelled-clones or even Bejewelled itself have been met with deaf ears.. there’s something about this particular game that has them literally addicted to it… day in, day out.. though I’ve seen my wife slowly losing interest in it lately.. but it’s been an obsession for at least 2 or 3 months prior to now.

    So.. my theory is that it isn’t necessarily the game itself that they like.. it’s the competition and/or social aspects associated with the game.. being able to one-up your friend(s) in the game.. being able to talk about how hard and frustrating it is etc..

    Maybe that’s what is so addictive about this zhao ni mei game.. it’s not that the game itself is particularly fun in and of itself.. but the social aspects that follow on from it..

  2. graemegraeme Says: April 9, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    This game is actually pretty helpful for vocabulary, its kind of like a fun Rosetta stone. I am trying to get into playing simple games in Chinese on my iPhone and nexus 7. Does anyone have any good recommendations? Thanks.

  3. I was wondering about that game. Seen it in a lot of places, especially on the Metro. I think girls usually play it. Guys seem to like to play this certain version of “tower defense.”

    你妹 sort of seems related to 老子 (as said in Sichuanese).

  4. In Costa Rican Spanish we also use “su hermana!” which is kind of “你妹!”


    “vas a ir? su hermana va a ir!”

  5. Does anyone in China have a little sister?

  6. Yeah… I kind of tried to figure out if this is vulgar or just friendly dissing and got lost in a forest of contradictory answers. I was hoping you’d set us all straight about that, but alas, the jury’s still out over there too.

    I hear this all the time. Is it really just like “your mom”?

    A: “I’m going to get some lunch now.”
    B: “Your MOM’S going to get some lunch!”
    C: “Haha. That was awesome!”
    A: “How old are you guys?”
    B: “How old is your MOM?!”
    C: “Dis!”

    So then a game comes out called “Find your MOM!” and everyone’s like. “Haha! Dude!”

    Anyway, looking forward to the “answer.” (Yes, yes, I know, I know. My little SISTER’S looking forward to the answer…sigh)

  7. Ah, I saw someone a few days on the morning metro commute playing this game. I was wondering what the heck it was.

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