In China, To Tick People Off in Cyberspace, Type “呵呵” (He He)

he he
What’s wrong with 呵呵 (he he)?

What two innocent characters — 呵呵 (he he). In English, as well as in Chinese, they can easily be “mistaken” to mean “laughter”. In fact, read it out loud: at least, it should mean a hum of approval, no?


In fact, it’s one of these words that, according to a recent NetEase report (in Chinese), provokes contempt more than anything else. One Net user said: If you have a friend who goes he he to you, stay away from him / her — to that person, you’re less known than a stranger.


In essence, the moment you type 呵呵 (he he) online, you send out one (or more) of the following reactions:—

  • You’re not worth my time.
  • I’m just chatting with you. (“Negatively idling”)
  • I don’t know what I’m going to say.
  • Yes, I’m still alive.
  • Ah, hum, yeah.
  • Ehm, say…
  • So what…
  • Yeah… (sarcasm intended)
  • (Expression of indifference)

The report also goes to say that this is one of the worst words to use when e-dating for the first time. (There was a case when a girl started chatting with a boy she had just gotten to know. The badly-timed appearance of 呵呵 ruined it — she ended up throwing the bloke on the black list!)

Does your truly use it? Hardly ever. Probably once a year, even less. Does he take offence? Probably not. 呵呵 isn’t exactly part of the Mandarin Chinese Seven Dirty Words: if you’re indifferent, David probably won’t throw you into the black list, but if you’re obnoxious or insulting, you might just end up there…

You may also like...