You Are Fired

In China, when your boss want you to leave, you can say 我被炒鱿鱼了。(wǒ bèi chǎo yóu yú le.) meaning I’m fired.


被(bèi): am (passivity)

炒鱿鱼(chǎo yóu yú): fry sleeve-fish

了(le): indicating the completion of an action

You may be amused by the frying sleeve-fish part. It is definitely in the business Mandarin test. When you are fired, it is neither you frying sleeve-fish nor you are the sleeve-fish to be fried. Frying sleeve-fish is an idiom refers to firing.

Why people say so?

炒鱿鱼(chǎo yóu yú) first appeared in the south of China such as Guangdong Province. In the 70s and 80s, many inlanders chose to make a living in coastal area. Their employers hired them without providing them with bedclothes. Instead they bring them themselves. When getting fired, they pack up their bedclothes and leave. People found that to pack up the bedclothes was quite like frying slice of sleeve-fish to a curl shape. Thus, 炒鱿鱼(chǎo yóu yú) frying sleeve-fish was used to humorously describe this situation.

And炒鱿鱼(chǎo yóu yú) is not only for employees right now. If someone don’t feel like working for his current boss anymore, he could also use this phrase.

我炒老板鱿鱼了。(wǒ chǎo láo bǎn yóu yú le.)

I fired my boss.

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