A giant guide to Chinese zodiac signs, animals and vocabulary

Have you ever wondered how the Chinese Zodiac differs from the Western Zodiac? This handy guide will cover everything you need to know about both Zodiacs in Chinese!

Whether you cannot wait to read your daily horoscope first thing in the morning or are simply keen on seeing what your Zodiac says about you and your potential partner, knowing some Zodiac vocabulary in Chinese is an excellent conversation starter.

If you were raised in the West, then you’re probably already familiar with Zodiac signs like Aquarius, Cancer, and Scorpio. But are you familiar with the Year of the Rat, the Year of the Ox or the Year of the Dragon?

The Chinese Zodiac has an incredibly rich history with many levels that you’ll want to consider beyond just your year of birth. For example, if you’re into Western Astrology, you know that your ascendant and your moon are important components of understanding someone’s birth chart in addition to your sun sign. Similarly, the Chinese Zodiac incorporates more than just your birth year, as you’ll want to know your element and other things like your lucky colors and lucky numbers.

Fortunately, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to help you understand the Chinese Zodiac and speak about the Western Zodiac in Chinese. By the end of this article, you’ll be able to navigate the Chinese and Western Zodiacs expertly.

How to talk about Western Zodiac/horoscope signs in Chinese

If you’re already familiar with the Western horoscope, then you already know that we have a lot of ground to cover. Each Zodiac sign has associated animals, symbols, planets, elements, and more that affect their personalities and ways of interacting with the world. We’ll cover each sign individually and show you how to discuss all aspects of it, but for now, let’s focus on the basics: how to say each Western Zodiac sign in Chinese.

EnglishDate rangeChinesePinyinPronunciation
AriesMarch 21 – April 19白羊座bái yáng zuòbair yang tzuoh
TaurusApril 20 – May 20金牛座jīn niú zuòjin niou tzuoh
GeminiMay 21 – June 20双子座shuāng zǐ zuòshuang tzyy tzuoh
CancerJune 21 – July 22巨蟹座jù xiè zuòjiuh shieh tzuoh
LeoJuly 23 – August 22狮子座shī zi zuòshy tzy tzuoh
VirgoAugust 23 – September 22处女座chǔ nǚ zuòchuu neu tzuoh
LibraSeptember 23 – October 22天秤座tiān chèng zuòtian chenq tzuoh
ScorpioOctober 23 – November 21天蝎座tiān xiē zuòtian shie tzuoh
SagittariusNovember 22 – December 21射手座shè shǒu zuòsheh shoou tzuoh
CapricornDecember 22 – January 19摩羯座mó jié zuòmo jye tzuoh
AquariusJanuary 20 – February 18水瓶座shuǐ píng zuòshoei pyng tzuoh
PiscesFebruary 19 – March 20双鱼座shuāng yú zuòshuang yu tzuoh


Aries in Chinese

Aries signs are known for their leadership, courage, and enthusiasm. They are often adventurous and dynamic but can be competitive or aggressive. Their fiery energy drives them to take initiative and embrace challenges.

DatesMarch 21 – April 193月21日 — 4月19日sān yuè èr shí yī rì – sì yuè shí jiǔ rìsan yueh ell shyr i ryh syh yueh shyr jeou ryh
PlanetMars火星huǒ xīnghuoo shing
SymbolThe ram公羊gōng yánggong yang
PolarityPositive阳性yáng xìngyang shinq
ModalityCardinal本位běn wèibeen wey
CharacteristicsDetermined意志坚定yì zhì jiān dìngyih jyh jian dinq
CharacteristicsConfident自信zì xìntzyh shinn
CharacteristicsAggressive咄咄逼人duō duō bī rénduo duo bi ren


Taurus in Chinese

Tauruses are known for their reliability and practicality. Loyalty and dedication define their relationships. They are patient, persistent, and enjoy life’s pleasures. However, they can be stubborn and resistant to change.

DatesApril 20 – May 204月20日 — 5月20日sì yuè èr shí rì – wǔ yuè èr shí rìsyh yueh ell shyr ryh – wuu yueh ell shyr ryh
PlanetVenus金星jīn xīngjin shing
SymbolThe bull公牛gōng niúgong niou
PolarityNegative阴性yīn xìngin shinq
ModalityFixed固定gù dìngguh dinq
CharacteristicsReliable可靠kě kàokee kaw
CharacteristicsStubborn固执gù zhíguh jyr
CharacteristicsPossessive占有欲强zhàn yǒu yù qiángjann yeou yuh chyang


Gemini in Chinese

Gemini signs are known for their duality. They are adaptable, outgoing, and intellectually curious. They thrive on communication and social interaction and can be indecisive and restless. Their versatility and wit make them engaging companions.

DatesMay 21 – June 205月21日 — 6月20日wǔ yuè èr shí yī rì – liù yuè èr shí rìwuu yueh ell shyr i ryh – liow yueh ell shyr ryh
ElementAir空气kōng qìkong chih
PlanetMercury水星shuǐ xīngshoei shing
SymbolThe twins双胞胎shuāng bāo tāishuang bau tai
PolarityPositive阳性yáng xìngyang shinq
ModalityMutable变动biàn dòngbiann donq
CharacteristicsGentle温柔wēn róuuen rou
CharacteristicsCurious好奇hào qíhaw chyi
CharacteristicsInconsistent善变shàn biànshann biann


Cancer in Chinese

Cancer signs are known for being emotional and sensitive. Cancers are nurturing and empathetic, often putting others' needs first. They value family and home, providing a comforting presence. However, they can be moody and clingy, with a strong tendency towards sentimentality.

DatesJune 21 – July 226月21日 — 7月22日liù yuè èr shí yī rì – qī yuè èr shí èr rìliow yueh ell shyr i ryh – chi yueh ell shyr ell ryh
PlanetThe moon月亮yuè liangyueh lianq
SymbolThe crab螃蟹páng xièparng shieh
PolarityNegative阴性yīn xìngin shinq
ModalityCardinal本位běn wèibeen wey
CharacteristicsTenacious顽强wán qiángwan chyang
CharacteristicsImaginative富有想象力fù yǒu xiǎng xiàng lìfuh yeou sheang shianq lih
CharacteristicsPessimistic悲观bēi guānbei guan


Leo in Chinese

Leos are confident, charismatic, and natural leaders who tend to take the spotlight. They are generous and loyal and have a flair for drama and creativity. However, they can be prone to arrogance and stubbornness, so they need to be careful not to give in to these impulses.

DatesJuly 23 – August 227月23日 — 8月22日qī yuè èr shí sān rì – bā yuè èr shí èr rìchi yueh ell shyr san ryh – ba yueh ell shyr ell ryh
PlanetThe sun太阳tài yángtay yang
SymbolThe lion狮子shī zishy tzy
PolarityPositive阳性yáng xìngyang shinq
ModalityFixed固定gù dìngguh dinq
CharacteristicsCreative有创造力yǒu chuàng zào lìyeou chuanq tzaw lih
CharacteristicsPassionate热情rè qíngreh chyng
CharacteristicsArrogant傲慢ào mànaw mann


Virgo in Chinese

Virgos are characterized by their detail-oriented approach to everything. They are analytical, methodical, and diligent and tend to strive for perfection in everything they do. They are reliable and helpful but can be overly critical and worry-prone.

DatesAugust 23 – September 228月23日 — 9月22日bā yuè èr shí sān rì – jiǔ yuè èr shí èr rìba yueh ell shyr san ryh – jeou yueh ell shyr ell ryh
PlanetMercury水星shuǐ xīngshoei shing
SymbolThe virgin处女chǔ nǚchuu neu
PolarityNegative阴性yīn xìngin shinq
ModalityMutable变动biàn dòngbiann donq
CharacteristicsLoyal忠诚zhōng chéngjong cherng
CharacteristicsHardworking努力nǔ lìnuu lih
CharacteristicsShy害羞hài xiūhay shiou


Libra in Chinese

Libras, represented by the scales, are diplomatic and sociable. They seek justice and fairness in all aspects of life, have a strong aesthetic sense, and love beauty. However, they can be indecisive and avoid confrontations as they seek to maintain peace.

DatesSeptember 23 – October 229月23日 — 10月22日jiǔ yuè èr shí sān rì – shí yuè èr shí èr rìjeou yueh ell shyr san ryh – shyr yueh ell shyr ell ryh
ElementAir空气kōng qìkong chih
PlanetVenus金星jīn xīngjin shing
SymbolThe scaleschèngchenq
PolarityPositive阳性yáng xìngyang shinq
ModalityCardinal本位běn wèibeen wey
CharacteristicsCooperative乐于合作lè yú hé zuòleh yu her tzuoh
CharacteristicsIndecisive优柔寡断yōu róu guǎ duàniou rou goa duann
CharacteristicsSocial善于交际shàn yú jiāo jìshann yu jiau jih


Scorpio in Chinese

Scorpios are known for their intensity and depth. They are passionate, determined, and resourceful and often delve deep into the heart of the matter. They are loyal and brave but can be secretive and prone to jealousy. Their strong will is unmatched.

DatesOctober 23 – November 2110月23日 — 11月21日shí yuè èr shí sān rì – shí yī yuè èr shí yī rìshyr yueh ell shyr san ryh – shyr i yueh ell shyr i ryh
PlanetPluto冥王星míng wáng xīngming wang shing
SymbolThe scorpionxiēshie
PolarityNegative阴性yīn xìngin shinq
ModalityFixed固定gù dìngguh dinq
CharacteristicsPassionate热情rè qíngreh chyng
CharacteristicsBrave勇敢yǒng gǎnyeong gaan
CharacteristicsSecretive神秘shén mìshern mih


Sagittarius in Chinese

Sagittarius signs are known for their adventurous and optimistic spirit. Sagittarians are freedom-loving, honest, and have a thirst for knowledge. They are enthusiastic and have a great sense of humor but can be impatient and tactless. Their love for exploration defines them.

DatesNovember 22 – December 2111月22日 — 12月21日shí yī yuè èr shí èr rì – shí èr yuè èr shí yī rìshyr i yueh ell shyr ell ryh – shyr ell yueh ell shyr i ryh
PlanetJupiter木星mù xīngmuh shing
SymbolThe archer射手shè shǒusheh shoou
PolarityPositive阳性yáng xìngyang shinq
ModalityMutable变动biàn dòngbiann donq
CharacteristicsIdealistic理想主义lǐ xiǎng zhǔ yìlii sheang juu yih
CharacteristicsGenerous慷慨kāng kǎikang kae
CharacteristicsShallow肤浅fū qiǎnfu chean


Capricorn in Chinese

Capricorns are known for their discipline and ambition. Capricorns are practical, responsible, and value structure and achievement. They are hardworking and patient, which makes them excel in managerial roles. However, they can be stubborn and overly cautious, which can make them seem distant or cold.

DatesDecember 22 – January 1912月22日 — 1月19日shí èr yuè èr shí èr rì – yī yuè shí jiǔ rìshyr ell yueh ell shyr ell ryh – i yueh shyr jeou ryh
PlanetSaturn土星tǔ xīngtuu shing
SymbolThe sea goat海山羊hǎi shān yánghae shan yang
PolarityNegative阴性yīn xìngin shinq
ModalityCardinal本位běn wèibeen wey
CharacteristicsResponsible负责任fù zé rènfuh tzer renn
CharacteristicsDisciplined有纪律yǒu jì lǜyeou jih liuh
CharacteristicsUnforgiving不宽容bù kuān róngbuh kuan rong


Aquarius in Chinese

Aquarians are known for their progressive and independent nature. Aquarians are innovative, intellectual, and humanitarian. They value freedom and individuality but can be unpredictable and emotionally detached. Their vision often makes them unconventional yet visionary thinkers.

DatesJanuary 20 – February 181月20日 — 2月18日yī yuè èr shí rì – èr yuè shí bā rìi yueh ell shyr ryh – ell yueh shyr ba ryh
ElementAir空气kōng qìkong chih
PlanetUranus天王星tiān wáng xīngtian wang shing
SymbolThe water bearer持水者chí shuǐ zhěchyr shoei jee
PolarityPositive阳性yáng xìngyang shinq
ModalityFixed固定gù dìngguh dinq
CharacteristicsOriginal独创性dú chuàng xìngdwu chuanq shinq
CharacteristicsIndependent独立dú lìdwu lih
CharacteristicsTemperamental情绪化qínɡ xù huàchyn shiuh huah


Pisces in Chinese

Pisces are known for their empathetic and artistic nature. They are intuitive, sensitive, and compassionate, which makes them deeply connected to their emotions and the emotions of those around them. They are imaginative dreamers but can be overly idealistic and escapist.

DatesFebruary 19 – March 202月19日 — 3月20日èr yuè shí jiǔ rì – sān yuè èr shí rìell yueh shyr jeou ryh – san yueh ell shyr ryh
PlanetNeptune海王星hǎi wáng xīnghae wang shing
SymbolThe fishyu
PolarityNegative阴性yīn xìngin shinq
ModalityMutable变动biàn dòngbiann donq
CharacteristicsCompassionate富有同情心fù yǒu tóng qíng xīnfuh yeou torng chyng shin
CharacteristicsArtistic艺术性yì shù xìngyih shuh shinq
CharacteristicsFearful胆小dǎn xiǎodaan sheau

How to talk about Chinese Zodiac signs in Chinese

If you’re just starting to delve into Chinese culture, then get ready because we’ve got a treat for you. The Chinese Zodiac signs are completely different from the Western ones, and they come with a history just as rich and meaningful.

The most obvious difference between the Western and Chinese Zodiac is that the Chinese zodiac is based on animals. Each sign is named after one of the 12 animals of the Zodiac. They are also assigned based on the year of birth rather than the month of birth. So, each sign is commonly known as “the Year of the ____”, such as the Year of the Ox or the Year of the Rabbit.

The Chinese Zodiac follows the lunar calendar, which doesn’t match the Gregorian calendar exactly. So, the year of each Zodiac sign changes during Chinese New Year, which happens somewhere between late January and mid-February.

Here are the 12 Chinese Zodiac signs in English and Chinese, along with pinyin and a handy pronunciation guide.


The Year of the Rat 鼠年.

The Year of the Rat – 鼠年

Those born in the Year of the Rat, according to the Chinese Zodiac, are known for their intelligence, resourcefulness, and adaptability. Rats are quick-witted, charming, and sociable, with a keen eye for detail. They are ambitious and thrifty but can sometimes be seen as opportunistic and secretive.

Here are some of the most common characteristics of those born in the Year of the Rat and idioms related to rat:

Forthright豪爽háo shuǎnghaur shoang
Adaptable适应性强shì yìng xìng qiángshyh yinq shinq chyang
Neat有条理yǒu tiáo lǐyeou tyau lii
Curious好奇的hào qí dehaw chyi de
Outgoing外向wài xiàngway shianq
Loves money爱财ài cáiay tsair
Rat’s belly and chicken intestines; narrow-minded.鼠肚鸡肠shǔ dù jī chángshuu duh ji charng
As timid as a rat.胆小如鼠dǎn xiǎo rú shǔdaan sheau ru shuu
As short-sighted as a rat.鼠目寸光shǔ mù cùn guāngshuu muh tsuenn guang

The Year of the Ox 牛年.

The Year of the Ox – 牛年

People born in the Year of the Ox in the Chinese Zodiac are characterized by their strength, reliability, and diligence. Oxen are known for their steadfastness, patience, and methodical approach. They are typically honest and hardworking, valuing tradition and family. However, they can also be stubborn and less adept at socializing.

These are some of the most common traits of people born in the Year of the Ox and idioms related to ox.

Calm冷静lěng jìngleeng jinq
Dependable可信kě xìnkee shinn
Obstinate固执gù zhíguh jyr
Reliable可靠kě kàokee kaw
Uncompromising不妥协bù tuǒ xiébuh tuoo shye
Upright正直zhèng zhíjenq jyr
An old cow licking her calf; parents loving their children.老牛舐犊lǎo niú shì dúlao niou shyh dwu
One hair from nine oxen; negligible.九牛一毛jiǔ niú yì máojeou niou i mau
Newborn calves are not afraid of tigers; fearless.初生牛犊不怕虎chū shēng niú dú bú pà hǔchu sheng niou dwu buh pah huu

The Year of the Tiger 虎年.

The Year of the Tiger – 虎年

People born in the Year of the Tiger, as per the Chinese Zodiac, are recognized for their bravery, confidence, and competitive nature. Tigers are charismatic and adventurous, often taking on leadership roles. They possess a strong sense of justice and are not afraid of challenges, but can be impulsive and aggressive.

Here are some other common traits of those born in the Year of the Tiger and idioms related to the tiger.

Giving乐于给予lè yú jǐ yǔleh yu jii yeu
Optimistic开朗kāi lǎngkai laang
Resolute坚决jiān juéjian jyue
Rebellious叛逆pàn nìpann nih
Self-centered自我中心zì wǒ zhōng xīntzyh woo jong shin
Emotional感性gǎn xìnggaan shinq
Careless or so-so马马虎虎mǎ mǎ hū hūmaa maa huu huu
To escape the tiger’s mouth; survive from great danger.虎口余生hǔ kǒu yú shēnghuu koou yu sheng
Watch someone very closely.虎视眈眈hǔ shì dān dānhuu shyh dan dan
A fox borrowing the Tiger’s might; borrowing other people’s power to achieve goals.狐假虎威hú jiǎ hǔ wēihwu jea huu uei
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; hidden undiscovered talent.卧虎藏龙wò hǔ cáng lóngwoh huu tsang long

The Year of the Rabbit 兔年.

The Year of the Rabbit – 兔年

People born in the Year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese Zodiac, are known for their gentle, compassionate, and refined nature. Rabbits are graceful, peaceful, and possess good judgment. They seek harmony and are often artistic and diplomatic, but can be risk-averse and somewhat detached in emotional expression.

These are some of the most common traits and idioms related to those born in the Year of the Rabbit:

Careful仔细zǐ xìtzyy shih
Considerate体贴tǐ tiētii tie
Hospitable好客hào kèhaw keh
Temperamental喜怒无常xǐ nù wú chángshii nuh wu charng
Shrewd精明jīng míngjing ming
A cunning rabbit has many burrows; cunning.狡兔三窟jiǎo tù sān kūjeau tuh san ku
Rabbits rise, falcons descend; agile.兔起鹘落tù qǐ hú luòtuh chii hwu luoh
Wait for gains without pains.守株待兔shǒu zhū dài tùshoou ju day tuh

The Year of the Dragon 龙年.

The Year of the Dragon – 龙年

Those born in the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese Zodiac are known for their charisma, intelligence, and confidence. Dragons are natural leaders, ambitious and driven, with a flair for the dramatic. They are innovative and courageous but can also be perceived as arrogant and prone to impulsive decisions.

Some common characteristics of people born in the Year of the Dragon and dragon-related idioms are:

Strong坚决的jiān jué dejian jyue de
Energetic精力充沛jīng lì chōng pèijing lih chong pey
Proud骄傲jiāo àojiau aw
Confident自信zì xìntzyh shinn
Perfectionist完美主义wán měi zhǔ yìwan meei juu yih
Irritable易怒yì nùyih nuh
Dragon horse vitality; old but still full of vitality.龙马精神lóng mǎ jīng shénlong maa jing shern
Dragon wars, tiger battles; a fierce battle between giants.龙争虎斗lóng zhēng hǔ dòulong jeng huu dow
The dragon among men; a metaphor for a hero.人中之龙rén zhōng zhī lóngren jong jy long
The rise and fall of the terrain; the ins and outs of something.来龙去脉lái lóng qù màilai long chiuh may
Dragon flies, phoenix dances; calligraphy being powerful and lively.龙飞凤舞lóng fēi fèng wǔlong fei fenq wuu
No leader in a host of dragons; used to describe leaderless situations.群龙无首qún lóng wú shǒuchyun long wu shoou
To hope one’s son becomes a dragon; parents want their kids to succeed.望子成龙wàng zǐ chéng lóngwanq tzyy cherng long

The Year of the Snake 蛇年.

The Year of the Snake – 蛇年

Individuals born in the Year of the Snake, according to the Chinese Zodiac, are seen as wise, intuitive, and enigmatic. Snakes are charming and sophisticated with a calm demeanor. They are deep thinkers, often introspective, but can also be possessive and distrustful. Their mysterious nature hides a strategic and analytical mind.

Snakes are often portrayed in dark yet nuanced ways in Chinese culture. For example, the story of the white snake is one of the most popular romance stories in Chinese, which showcases the mystical nature of these animals in Chinese culture.

Some of the top traits and idioms related to those born in the Year of the Snake are:

Insightful有洞察力的yǒu dòng chá lì deyeou donq char lih de
Mysterious神秘shén mìshern mih
Independent独立dú lìdwu lih
Private不愿吐露心思的bú yuàn tǔ lù xīn sī debuh yuann tuu luh shin sy de
Cautious仔细zǐ xìtzyy shih
Suspicious多疑duō yíduo yi
To draw legs on a snake; to overdo something.画蛇添足huà shé tiān zúhuah sher tian tzwu
Once bitten by a snake, ten years in fear of a well rope; once bitten, twice shy.一朝被蛇咬,十年怕井绳yì zhāo bèi shé yǎo, shí nián pà jǐng shéngi jau bey sher yeau shyr nian pah jiing sherng
Tiger's head, snake's tail; a strong start but weak finish.虎头蛇尾hǔ tóu shé wěihuu tour sher woei
A man who is never content is like a snake trying to swallow an elephant.人心不足蛇吞象rén xīn bù zú shé tūn xiàngren shin buh tzwu sher tuen shianq
Viper scorpion heart; a vicious heart.蛇蝎心肠shé xiē xīn chángsher shie shin charng

The Year of the Horse 马年.

The Year of the Horse - 马年

Born in the Year of the Horse, these individuals are recognized in the Chinese Zodiac for their energy, independence, and enthusiasm. Horses are outgoing and sociable and love freedom. They are quick-witted and adventurous but can be impulsive and restless. Their free-spirited nature often leads them to seek new experiences.

Here are some characteristics and idioms related to those born in the Year of the Horse:

Cheerful开朗kāi lǎngkai laang
Lively生气勃勃shēng qì bó bósheng chih bor bor
Impulsive鲁莽lǔ mǎngluu maang
Friendly友好yǒu hǎoyeou hao
uncompromising不妥协的bù tuǒ xié debuh tuoo shye de
To win instant success马到成功mǎ dào chéng gōngmaa daw cherng gong
Looking at flowers from horseback; to make a quick judgment based on inadequate information.走马观花zǒu mǎ guān huātzoou maa guan hua
The horse doesn’t stop galloping; to do something without stopping.马不停蹄mǎ bù tíng tímaa buh tyng tyi
To spur the horse to full speed; to go as fast as possible.快马加鞭kuài mǎ jiā biānkuay maa jia bian
An old horse knows the way; an experienced person that can share their expertise.老马识途lǎo mǎ shí túlao maa shyr twu
A blind person riding a blind horse; acting blindly can have very dangerous consequences.盲人瞎马máng rén xiā mǎmang ren shia maa
A horse does not know its face; a person who is unaware of their own faults or shortcomings.马不知脸长mǎ bù zhī liǎn chángmaa buh jy lean charng
Trying to heal a dead horse; trying to salvage a hopeless situation.死马当作活马医sǐ mǎ dāng zuò huó mǎ yīsyy maa danq tzuoh hwo maa i
To take the head of the general's horse as guide; to follow blindly.马首是瞻mǎ shǒu shì zhānmaa shoou shyh jan

The Year of the Sheep 羊年.

The Year of the Sheep - 羊年

Individuals born in the Year of the Sheep (or Goat) in the Chinese Zodiac are known for their gentle, thoughtful, and compassionate nature. Sheep are creative, artistic, and have a strong sense of justice. They prefer peace and quiet and are sympathetic but can be shy, indecisive, and over-sensitive at times.

These are some of the top traits and idioms related to those born in the Year of the Sheep:

Good-natured脾气好pí qì hǎopyi chih hao
Timid胆怯dǎn qièdaan chieh
Emotional感性gǎn xìnggaan shinq
Pessimistic悲观bēi guānbei guan
Mild平和píng hépyng her
Forgiving宽容kuān róngkuan rong
Mend the fence after sheep are lost; making amends after a loss to avoid suffering future losses.亡羊补牢wáng yáng bǔ láowang yang buu lau
A sheep in the skin of a tiger; someone who is impressive in appearance but lacks substance.羊质虎皮yáng zhì hǔ píyang jyh huu pyi
To hang a sheep’s head but sell dog meat; to be dishonest.挂羊头卖狗肉guà yáng tóu mài gǒu ròuguah yang tour may goou row
A wolf in sheep’s clothing; outwardly kind but inwardly vicious披着羊皮的狼pī zhe yáng pí de lángpi je yang pyi de lang
Wool comes from the sheep’s back; nothing is free.羊毛出在羊身上yáng máo chū zài yáng shēn shangyang mau chu tzay yang shen shanq

The Year of the Monkey 猴年.

The Year of the Monkey - 猴年

People born in the Year of the Monkey are known for their cleverness, curiosity, and wit. Monkeys are innovative, adaptable, and quick learners, which makes them skillful problem-solvers. However, they can also be mischievous and sometimes break rules or lack respect for tradition.

Here are some of the top characteristics of those born in the Year of the Monkey and monkey-related idioms:

Opportunistic投机的tóu jī detour ji de
Charming迷人mí rénmi ren
Crafty狡猾jiǎo huájeau hwa
Dishonest不诚实bù chéng shíbuh cherng shyr
Showy招摇zhāo yáojau yau
Inquisitive好奇hào qíhaw chyi
When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter; when a powerful person falls, those who depend on him will disperse.树倒猢狲散shù dǎo hú sūn sànshuh dao hwu suen sann
Monkey picking up the moon; a useless attempt.猴子捞月hóu zi lāo yuèhour tzy lhau yueh
When the tigers are not in the mountains, the monkey becomes the king; when the cat’s away, the mice play.山中无老虎,猴子称大王shān zhōng wú lǎo hǔ, hóu zi chēng dài wangshan jong wu lao huu hour tzy cheng day uang
Monkey year, horse month; used to describe something that won’t happen in the foreseeable future or a task that will never be finished.猴年马月hóu nián mǎ yuèhour nian maa yueh

The Year of the Rooster 鸡年.

The Year of the Rooster - 鸡年

Those born in the Year of the Rooster, as per the Chinese Zodiac, are recognized for their confidence, honesty, and hardworking nature. Roosters are observant, sharp, and practical. They enjoy being in the spotlight and can be flamboyant but also boast strong organizational skills. However, they can be blunt and boastful.

Some of the most common traits and idioms about the Year of the Rooster are:

Disciplined守规矩shǒu guī jushoou guei jeu
Arrogant嚣张xiāo zhāngshiau jang
Decisive果断guǒ duànguoo duann
Logical有逻辑yǒu luó jíyeou luo jyi
Critical批判主义pī pàn zhǔ yìpi pann juu yih
To find a bone in an egg; to be picky on purpose.鸡蛋里挑骨头jī dàn lǐ tiāo gǔ touji dann lhi tiau guu tou
Chickens flying and dogs jumping; something very messy.鸡飞狗跳jī fēi gǒu tiàoji fei goou tiaw
Rather be a chicken head than a rooster tail; better be a leader in a small place than a follower in a big place.宁做鸡头,不做凤尾nìng zuò jī tóu, bú zuò fèng wěininq tzuoh ji tour buh tzuoh fenq woei
Hands don’t even have the strength to tie up a chicken; used to describe people being physically weak.手无缚鸡之力shǒu wú fù jī zhī lìshoou wu fuh ji jy lih
Chicken feathers and garlic skin; trivial things.鸡毛蒜皮jī máo suàn píji mau suann pyi
To steal chicken and touch dogs; to be sneaky.偷鸡摸狗tōu jī mō gǒutou ji mho goou

The Year of the Dog 狗年.

The Year of the Dog - 狗年

These individuals are known for their loyalty, honesty, and trustworthiness. Dogs are faithful, sincere, and kind-hearted creatures who often act selflessly. They are reliable and have a strong sense of duty, but can also be stubborn, worrisome, and overly cautious at times.

These are some of the most common traits and idioms related to the Year of the Dog:

Clever聪明cōng míngtsong ming
Quick-minded思维敏捷sī wéi mǐn jiésy wei miin jye
Faithful忠诚zhōng chéngjong cherng
Belligerent好斗hào dòuhaw dow
A desperate dog tries to jump over the wall; to be driven to desperate action.狗急跳墙gǒu jí tiào qiánggoou jyi tiaw chyang
To add dog’s hair to a mink decoration; make an unworthy continuation of a great work.狗尾续貂gǒu wěi xù diāogoou woei shiuh diau
An adviser with a dog’s head; a good-for-nothing adviser.狗头军师gǒu tóu jūn shīgoou tour jiun shy
A dog threatening someone on the authority of its masters; relying on others’ power to oppress people.狗仗人势gǒu zhàng rén shìgoou janq ren shyh
A dog trying to catch mice; used in situations when someone is minding other people’s business.狗拿耗子gǒu ná hào zigoou na haw tzy
Having foxes and dogs as friends; having friends with bad influence.狐朋狗友hú péng gǒu yǒuhwu perng goou yeou

The Year of the Pig 猪年.

The Year of the Pig - 猪年

People born in the Year of the Pig are known for their generosity, diligence, and compassion. Pigs are sincere, peace-loving, and possess a strong sense of responsibility. They enjoy life's pleasures and are often lucky and affluent, but can also be naive and overly trusting.

Here’s what to expect from people born in the Year of the Pig and pig-related idioms:

Innocent单纯dān chúndan chwen
Trustworthy可靠kě kàokee kaw
Patient耐心nài xīnnay shin
Philanthropic乐善好施lè shàn hào shīleh shann haw shy
Hot-tempered脾气暴躁pí qì bào zàopyi chih baw tzaw
Worse than pigs and dogs; someone who is willing to commit heinous acts.猪狗不如zhū gǒu bù rúju goou buh ru
Pig and dog friends; friends with misbehavior and moral issues.猪朋狗友zhū péng gǒu yǒuju perng goou yeou
One dragon, one pig; two people with obviously discernable superiority and inferiority .一龙一猪yì lóng yì zhūi long i ju

Lucky symbols in the Chinese Zodiac

Another thing to keep in mind about the Chinese Zodiac is that each sign comes with its lucky (and unlucky!) symbols. Things like days and months can be especially lucky for you depending on your sign, so you can choose to take these symbols into consideration when you plan big events or consider major life decisions.

ZodiacLucky daysLucky monthsLucky numbersLucky colorsLucky flowersLucky directions
Rat4th and 13th of each lunar month2nd, 5th, and 9th lunar months2 and 3Blue, gold, and greenLily, African violet, and orchidWest, northwest, and southwest
Ox13th and 27th of each lunar month7th and 9th lunar months1 and 4White, yellow, and greenMorning glory, tulip, and peach blossomNorth and south
Tiger16h and 27th of each lunar month3rd, 7th, and 10th lunar months1, 3, and 4Blue, gray, orange, and whiteYellow lily and cinerariaEast, south, and southeast
Rabbit26th, 27th, and 29th of each lunar month1st, 4th, 8th, and 11th lunar months3, 4, and 6Red, pink, purple, and bluePlantain lily, jasmineEast, south, and northwest
Dragon1st and 16th of each lunar month3rd, 4th, and 7th lunar months1, 6, and 7Gold, silver, and grayish whiteBleeding heart vine and larkspurEast, north, and south
Snake1st and 23rd of each lunar month1st, 3rd, and 9th lunar months2, 8, and 9Black, red, and yellowOrchid and cactusEast, west, and southwest
Horse5th and 20th of each lunar month4th, 9th, and 12th lunar months2, 3, and 7Yellow and greenCalla lily and jasmineEast, west, and south
Sheep7th and 30th of each lunar month1st, 6th, and 9th lunar months2 and 7Green, red, and purpleCarnations and primrosesNorth, west, and southwest
Monkey14th and 28th of each lunar month2nd, 5th, and 9th lunar months1, 7, and 8White, blue, and goldChrysanthemums and crape myrtleNorth, northwest, and west
Rooster4th and 26th of each lunar month2nd, 5th, and 11th lunar months5, 7, and 8Gold, brown, and yellowGladiola, cockscomb, and daisyEast, southeast, and south
Dog7th and 28th of each lunar month6th, 10th, and 12th lunar months3, 4, and 9Red, green, and purpleRoses and cymbidium orchidsEast, south, and northeast
Pig17th and 24th of each lunar month2nd, 7th, and 10th lunar months2, 5, and 8Yellow, gray, brown, and goldHydrangeas and daisiesEast and southwest

Common phrases about the Zodiac in Chinese

Knowing all this Zodiac vocabulary won’t be useful if you don’t know how to naturally weave it into conversations. The following are some great questions and responses you can use to naturally talk about Chinese and Western Zodiacs with your friends.

What’s your sign?你的星座是什么?nǐ de xīng zuò shì shén me ?nii de shing tzuoh shyh shern me
What’s your sign?你的生肖/属相是什么?nǐ de shēng xiào / shǔ xiàng shì shén me ?nii de sheng shiaw / shuu shianq shyh shern me
I am a Cancer.我是巨蟹座wǒ shì jù xiè zuòwoo shyh jiuh shieh tzuoh
I am a Rat.我属鼠wǒ shǔ shǔwoo shuu shuu
When is your birthday?你的生日是什么时候?nǐ de shēng rì shì shén me shí hòu ?nii de sheng ryh shyh shern me shyr how
My birthday is July 17.我的生日是七月十七日wǒ de shēng rì shì qī yuè shí qī rìwoo de sheng ryh shyh chi yueh shyr chi ryh
I was born in 1995.我是1995年出生的wǒ shì yī jiǔ jiǔ wǔ nián chū shēng dewoo shyh i jeou jeou wuu nian chu sheng de
What’s your rising sign?你的上升星座是什么?nǐ de shàng shēng xīng zuò shì shén me ?nii de shanq sheng shing tzuoh shyh shern me
Do you read the horoscope often?你经常看星座运势吗?nǐ jīng cháng kàn xīng zuò yùn shì ma ?nii jing charng kann shing tzuoh yunn shyh mha
Our signs are very compatible我们的星座/属相/生肖很合wǒ men de xīng zuò / shǔ xiàng / shēng xiào hěn héwoo mhen de shing tzuoh / shuu shianq / sheng shiaw heen her

FAQs about the Chinese Zodiac

Why are animals used in the Chinese Zodiac?

There are many versions of the origin of the twelve Zodiac animals. The most common version is that the Jade Emperor organized a race for all the animals, but only the first twelve animals to arrive would win. They had to cross a tumultuous river before getting to the finish line, and the order of the Zodiac signs represents the order of the winners. In the end, the rat was the first to cross the finish line, and the pig was the last winner.

Why are cats not part of the Chinese Zodiac?

Like the legend of the origin of the twelve Zodiac animals, there are a few different stories explaining why there isn’t a cat in the Chinese Zodiac. One story says that the rat and the cat, both bad swimmers, teamed up to cross the river in the Jade Emperor’s race. However, the rat ended up deceiving the cat, which is why the rat was the first one to make it to the finish line while the cat didn’t even arrive.

Is it good luck when it is your year?

So, you might be wondering what happens every 12 years when it is your year of the Zodiac again. Although it might sound like it would be a year of good luck (almost like your birthday!), your 本命年 (běn mìng nián) is actually considered unlucky. That’s because it’s thought that you offend Tai Sui (犯太岁), the god of age in Chinese mythology, in your 本命年, which is why you’re more likely to face obstacles and challenges in your life during this year.

Are there Chinese equivalents to Western Zodiac signs?

Although Chinese and Western zodiac signs are different, there are some overlaps between them. If you want to draw a parallel between the two to get a better idea of how the Chinese Zodiac signs equate to the Western signs, you can think of the following:

  • Sagittarius = Rat
  • Capricorn = Ox
  • Aquarius = Tiger
  • Pisces = Rabbit
  • Aries = Dragon
  • Taurus = Snake
  • Gemini = Horse
  • Cancer = Goat
  • Leo = Monkey
  • Virgo = Rooster
  • Libra = Dog
  • Scorpio = Pig

However, remember that these are just approximations and there isn’t a real equivalent between the two Zodiacs.

Ready to get more connected with your Zodiac?

Now that you have so many new vocabulary words, phrases, and questions about the Western and Chinese Zodiac, you’ll be able to speak confidently about the Zodiac. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get to know yourself a little bit better as you look into the characteristics of your Western and Chinese Zodiac!

Whatever the stars may say, don’t forget to check out our Mandarin Chinese blog, where we routinely publish helpful cultural and vocabulary content for learning Chinese, such as our guide to political words in Chinese and our guide to all things marketing in Chinese.

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