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Do these words just mean "tease", or something more serious?


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吃[X]的豆腐 - to tease sb, especially for interaction between the sexes

That's not my understanding of it. As far as I know, 吃某人的豆腐 means to touch a girl more than one should. Tease would be something more like 挑逗. Maybe a native speaker could confirm.

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The context in which I saw it used is this sentence about a Taiwanese TV host:

那一天看了之後,不知道全國的女性同胞有何感想, 一些人趁著主持之便吃女來賓的豆腐,真是下流.

吃女來賓的豆腐 was glossed by the author of the paper as "teasing female guests", not inappropriately touching them. Could a native speaker please have a look? Baidu says 生活中比较典型而常见的,是个别男士爱跟女性调笑,甚至动手动脚占点便宜的,就被人斥之谓“吃豆腐”, so it apparently carries both meanings, but is inappropriately touching the more common one?

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So until now we have three expressions, 吃豆腐, 毛手毛腳 and 調笑 (the last one from a post now deleted by skylee for whatever reason). I don't dare to check my dictionaries, 'cause there's bound to be even more expressions... :help

Edited by chrix
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那一天看了之後,不知道全國的女性同胞有何感想, 一些人趁著主持之便吃女來賓的豆腐,真是下流.

吃女來賓的豆腐 was glossed by the author of the paper as "teasing female guests", not inappropriately touching them.

I think the author's gloss may be understating. The Chinese quote gives me a worse impression, more like that of an indecent TV host having the habit of taking advantage of his female guesses.

It just happens that I've got a similar quote, also concerning someone with power in Taiwanese TV :mrgreen: :


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毛手毛腳 = "hairy / furry hands & feet"

To me this looks like a case of 望文生義

The MOE dictionary has the following two definitions (emphasis mine), one of them more going in the direction of "clumsy" (笨手笨腳) rather than "hairy":

1. 做事粗率慌張,不仔細。

2. 動手動腳。多指男女間輕浮的行為

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2. 動手動腳。多指男女間輕浮的行為。

毛手毛腳 might be an alternative of writing 動手動腳 from Taiwanese. I speak Cantonese and these seem to have somewhat similar meanings: 動手動腳 [Mandarin], 毛手毛腳 [Taiwanese?] & 摸手摸腳 [Cantonese].

吃 X 的豆腐 is similar to saying "毛手毛腳".

Note: 豆腐 might be slang for "female genitalia" depending on where it's said, so saying "吃 X 的豆腐" will definitely get you in trouble no matter how it's said [especially if it's a male doing the action].

Edited by trien27
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When discussing this, Taiwanese speakers have never indicated to me that 毛手毛腳 would be Taiwanese, also the MOE dictionary would mark this accordingly if this were so.

Another Cantonese speaker referred to this in the following way:

毛手毛腳 is definitely treated as 非禮

(the entire post was deleted subsequently by the same user without reason). For the time being I'm inclined to think that this meaning emerged in Mandarin itself irrespective of other regional Sinitic languages...

But for me, more important than its origin would be the usage, and how different it would be from the other expressions...

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Here an amusing explanation.



It’s said that tofu shops usually were run by wife and husband in the old days. Female boss in a tofu shop took tofu as their daily food, which made their skin tender and smooth. On one hand their fine skin helped attract more customers, on the other hand it showed some kind of coquetry to them. Men liked to take “to eat tofu” as an excuse to go to a tofu shop and flirt with the female boss there, verbally or even physically. Therefore, wives, feeling jealous, scolded their husbands, “Today, you went to eat tofu again?!” Now,“eating tofu”has become a word to describe man flirts with woman.


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It does have the connotation of 'taking advantage of', but from what I know, if the person whose doufu is being eaten doesn't mind, it's just teasing, flirting, and perhaps a little more.

Also note that when talking about food, you should say 我喜歡豆腐 but 我喜歡炒飯. :-)

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I know this one because it's used in Taiwan a lot, (ho ho ho).

To 吃X的豆腐 means to touch someone inappropriately, Of course it depends who's 豆腐 you're eating.

To give you an idea of how harsh this can be, If you 吃 someone's 豆腐, you can be prosecuted for it, because it can be deemed as sexual harrasment.

A presenter 吃X的豆腐 is inappropriate if you ask me, but because they didn't use the term sexual harrasment, they used 吃X的豆腐 instead of something heavier I think they're trying to make less of it.

Just to give you an example- if you were sitting next to your girlfriend at dinner and she was trying to have a serious conversation, she might take exeption to you 吃ing her 豆腐, in which case she would put you down by saying "dont 吃 my 的豆腐". This conversely wouldn't mean the police would be called, but it would also probably embarrass you quite a bit!!

However, if you 吃X的豆腐 on the train, expect to get in serious trouble.

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