[ chahy-neez, -nees ]

noun,plural Chi·nese.
  1. the standard language of China, based on the speech of Beijing; Mandarin.

  2. a group of languages of the Sino-Tibetan family, including standard Chinese and most of the other languages of China. Abbreviations: Chin., Chin

  1. any of the Chinese languages, which vary among themselves to the point of mutual unintelligibility.

  2. Chinese food: We usually order Chinese from a place across the street.

  3. Often Offensive. a native or descendant of a native of China. : See Usage note at the current entry.

  1. of or relating to China, its inhabitants, or one of their languages.

  2. noting or pertaining to the partly logographic, partly phonetic script used for the writing of Chinese, Japanese, and other languages, consisting of thousands of brushstroke characters written in vertical columns from right to left.

Origin of Chinese

First recorded in 1570–80; Chin(a) + -ese

usage note For Chinese

In the past, the word Chinese has been used as a noun to describe a person or people (the CEO is a Chinese ). This usage is dated and almost always considered offensive today.
The adjective Chinese is found in a few set phrases ( Chinese copy, Chinese fire drill, Chinese money, and Chinese tour ) in which it represents inferiority—implying that something is less good, useful, or effective, or that it is not authentic. In other set phrases ( Chinese checkers, Chinese tag ), the word represents that something is exotic or unusual. These uses are usually considered offensive.

Other words from Chinese

  • an·ti-Chi·nese, adjective, noun, plural an·ti-Chi·nese.
  • non-Chi·nese, adjective, noun, plural non-Chi·nese.
  • pro-Chi·nese, adjective, noun, plural pro-Chi·nese.
  • pseu·do-Chi·nese, adjective, noun, plural pseu·do-Chi·nese.

Words Nearby Chinese Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Chinese in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Chinese


/ (tʃaɪˈniːz) /

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of China, its people, or their languages

  1. plural -nese a native or inhabitant of China or a descendant of one

  2. any of the languages of China belonging to the Sino-Tibetan family, sometimes regarded as dialects of one language. They share a single writing system that is not phonetic but ideographic. A phonetic system using the Roman alphabet was officially adopted by the Chinese government in 1966: See also Mandarin Chinese, Pekingese, Cantonese

Other words from Chinese

  • Related prefix: Sino-

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012