What Are Some Common Vietnamese Slang Phrases?

A common phrase in Vietnamese slang is "lên d?a," which translates to "on the plate" in English and refers to an awkward or undesirable set of circumstances. A person or object that is lên d?a is at the mercy of a situation with the potential to cause ruin or destruction.

"K??à" is a word for lizard in Vietnamese and refers in slang to a person who is unwelcome, interested in everyone's business and generally makes a situation less enjoyable, roughly translating in English to "nuisance."

The phrase "?i bum" is an action verb in Vietnamese slang that means "to go dancing." Much of the older slang of Vietnamese comes from words in French or derivations thereof. "Mã Tà” comes from the French word for "nightstick" ("matraque") and refers to the police.

Another term for law enforcement personnel, "ông cò" contains the word for “crane” and is a slang phrase referring to the sheriff of a district. Similarly, "con co" also refers to the word “crane,” but is a phrase that refers to a postage stamp. "Nhà d?y thép” translates to "wire house" and is used as Vietnamese slang for "post office."

"Balô ng??c" directly translates in English to "backward backpack" and is used in verb form in Vietnamese slang to refer to becoming pregnant. As of 2015, the language's slang terms are far more likely to come from imagery or superstition.