What Does Piao Liang Mean in Chinese?

Beautiful, Pretty, Good-Looking

Piao Liang (Beautiful) written in Mandarin characters

Qiu Gui Su

The appreciation of beauty is a universal trait, and provides an engaging topic of conversation. The Mandarin Chinese phrase for “beautiful” or “pretty” is ►piàoliang, and can be used to describe people, places, or objects.

Piàoliang consists of two characters: 漂亮. The first character, 漂 (piào) means “elegant” or “polished.” The second character, 亮 (liàng) means “light,” or “bright.” Note that the second character is often pronounced with a neutral tone.

The literal translation of piào liàng, then, is “elegant and bright.”

Examples of Piao Liang

Click on the links to hear the audio.

Nǐ de yī fu hěn piào liàng.
Your clothes are very pretty.
Táiwān de tài lǔ gé fēng jǐng hěn piào liàng.
Taiwan’s Taroko Gorge is a beautiful place.

There are other ways of saying "beautiful" in Mandarin, and perhaps one of the most common ones that students encounter early on is 美 (měi) which also means "beautiful" and can be used on its own or in the common word 美丽/美麗. It's hard to find a single principle that distinguishes the use of these two words, but 美 (měi) usually refers to more permanent, lasting beauty, while 漂亮 (piào liàng) is more transcendent. Exactly how to use the words comes from seeing them in context a lot!

Update: This article was updated by Olle Linge on March 20th, 2016.

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Su, Qiu Gui. "What Does Piao Liang Mean in Chinese?" ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, thoughtco.com/piao-liang-beautiful-2278685. Su, Qiu Gui. (2023, April 5). What Does Piao Liang Mean in Chinese? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/piao-liang-beautiful-2278685 Su, Qiu Gui. "What Does Piao Liang Mean in Chinese?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/piao-liang-beautiful-2278685 (accessed June 8, 2023).