How to say 'rookie' or 'newbie' in Chinese - 菜鸟 cài niǎo

“菜鸟 cài niǎo” is a popular word. Interally, it seems like some kind of bird we can eat. However it means something like rookie or newbie.


Now I'm gonna tell the story behind "菜鸟":


1. "笨鸟 bèn niǎo" is the original word, which means a foolish bird or a stupid bird, while someone mistook "笨" as "菜". Then the word "菜鸟" has spreaded ever since.


2. Another idea is "菜鸟" derived from the NBA. The new players who have just joined in the NBA, we call them 菜鸟,which means someone has just joined in a team, or to accept new things, she/he needs a process to adjust to the new condition, we address this kind of people 菜鸟.


A: 你英语讲得怎么样?(Can you speak English well?)

B:我只是个菜鸟。(I'm just a beginner.)


If there is anything else you want to know, just tell me, happy to explain!:)

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Top Member
Comment by Zhang Wenzhuo on January 1, 2011 at 9:55pm


In Chinese, if people call one another 菜鸟 in video games, it probably has two meanings.

1. That people is a newbie

2.That people's video games skills are awful, bad, terrible.....


Comment by Brandon on January 1, 2011 at 5:39pm

This is great stuff, thanks for sharing!

Do you know if people call one another 菜鸟 cài niǎo in video games also? It seems like that is where Newbie was used most often in US.

Here's Pinyin for question & answer.

A: nĭ Yīng yŭ jiăng dé zĕn me yàng?
B: wŏ zhĭ shì gè cài niăo.

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