Ah... I really love the way the idea of 'being a third wheel' is expressed in Chinese (and some of the photos I got to put in this blog post as a result).

 

 

The term that they use for this situation is 'being a light bulb' which translates to 当电灯泡 - dāng diàn dēng pào.

 

 

The reason it's called being a light bulb (电灯泡) is that has to do with the ideal dating situation.  A nice, dark intimate setting where a couple can enjoy "intimate conversation" (insert heeeyoohh).  

 

 

But instead the couple can't enjoy this moment because you're hanging around, like a light bulb, making everything too bright and public to enjoy.

 

Example usage:

我不喜欢当电灯泡

wǒ bù xǐ huan dāng diàn dēng pào

I don't want to be a light bulb.

 

Extra vocabulary:

尴尬 - gān gà

awkward / embarrassed

 

I first heard of this phrase from Chinesepod Intermediate - The Jealous Friend (may need membership to listen).  

 

And this was a great photo that I had to include, via Eric and Lauren show.  当电灯泡! - dāng diàn dēng pào!


 

You should follow me on Twitter or add me to a circle on Google Plus → Brandon

Views: 5246

Tags: bulb, china, chinese, dating, deng, dian, friends, idioms, light, lightbulb, More…mandarin, offbeat, pao, phrases, slang, third, wheel

Comment

What do you think? If you would like to comment you can join free

Join Study More Chinese

Comment by Qiaodan on September 12, 2011 at 10:25pm

It is similar to the italian anciant way of says :  "tenere la candela" "hold the candle":

Here the etymology:

ancient times people used candles to light since there was no electricity. So the servants in the homes of the wealthy were often instructed to hold the candle to give light to the bosses. In practice they were there, impaled with this candle in your hand doing nothing. Today has been the defining expression for those who find themselves in a situation where they are ignored there doing nothing while everyone else has something to do.

Comment by Dora on September 12, 2011 at 4:37pm

当电灯泡会让我们感到尴尬 dāng diàn dēng pào hùi ràng wǒ men gǎn dào gān gà


Founder
Comment by Brandon on March 23, 2011 at 8:36pm

@Zhang - That's a great story, thanks for sharing.

@Allen - Yeah I think I liked the pictures almost as much as the phrase itself.

Comment by allen wong on March 23, 2011 at 5:20am
HAHA.  The pix are hilarious.  Funny how the light bulb guy is not happy.  Usually, I just imagine the light bulb having a blast and the couple is not happy because the light bulb is around.

Top Member
Comment by Zhang Wenzhuo on March 22, 2011 at 9:04pm

I used to be a light bulb when I was in hight school. My sister is 3 years older than me, at that time she had a boyfriend, but my aunt didn't like him, so she sent me to hang out with them!! That really was a  awkward experience which made me feel that I was a 2000 watts of light bulb!!

 

In Chinese, if we want to show that someone is a big light bulb, we always say"……真是两千瓦的电灯泡!(……zhēn shì liǎng qiān wǎ de diàn dēng pào)" which means " someone is  a 2000 watts of light bulb".

Recommended Resource

Recommended Company

Recommended App

Try HelloTalk Chinese Language App to find language partners. Download.

Recommended Site

Recommended Resource

Recommended Flashcards

Sponsored Links

Members

Latest Activity

Nancy Wang replied to Thomas Doherty's discussion How to say "to taste tea" in Chinese - 品茗 "pin ming" in the group Daily Chinese Sentence
"Do not sip tea today. 不要今天品茗。 Do you want to sip tea with honey? 你想品蜂蜜茗? To sip tea is to feel warm. 一品茗就感觉很温暖。 To sip tea is relaxing. 品茗让你很轻松。"
1 hour ago
Nancy Wang joined Brandon's group
Thumbnail

Daily Chinese Sentence

A new twist on the passive  'daily word' / 'daily sentence'.  Join this group to receive new Chinese words every other day by email & then practice translating example sentences. Free teacher feedback is provided.____________See More
1 hour ago
Jim Wu posted a discussion

译:恩施,一场盛大的馈赠

Enshi , A Grand GiftAuthor: Binhai Zhou   Translator: Jim Wu       恩施,这个名字听起来像守护着异域公主的勇士,勇敢与野性之外,略显黝黑的面庞还挂着几分令人心动的神秘和腼腆。寰行中国的车队刚一踏上这片土地,立刻惊艳得移不开目光。这里既有文明传绪的遗脉,也有大自然的馈赠。Enshi , sounds like a name of a warrior protecting an exotic princess, besides …See More
9 hours ago
Jim Wu replied to Pat's discussion Can you explain 就 jiù, 相 xiang ?
"我知道,但是呢。 blind date 的含义偏差有点大。因为blind在这里使其含有“第三方”安排的含义。所以,我个人认为应该有个什么其他更合适的词放在date前。   柯林斯高阶英汉词典 1.N-COUNT盲目约会;(由第三方安排的)男女初次约会A blind date is an arrangement made for you to spend a romantic evening with someone you have never met…"
9 hours ago
Wenting posted a video

Mandarin On the Go -01- Cool Chinese Slangs- It is more than an ox! (HD)

The Mandarin slang for today is:牛(awesome). Feel free to leave your comment "牛" here to show your support! And let us know if this is your first Mandarin sla...
16 hours ago

Top Member
Thomas Doherty posted videos
16 hours ago

Top Member
Thomas Doherty posted a blog post

Five Mandarin Greetings that are Not "Ni Hao"

Dave Flynn at   http://chinesehacks.com    has posted an article on ways to say "hello: that are not "Ni Hao".Follow the…See More
16 hours ago
Profile IconReshey Huit, Jay G Das, Nancy Wang and 1 more joined Study More Chinese
17 hours ago

Get daily Chinese learning updates