Mandarin neologism: "appointment to fire a cannon"

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One constantly encounters new terms in Chinese.  You may never have heard of an intriguing expression, then all of a sudden it is everywhere.  One that I hadn't heard of before today is yuēpào 约炮 (lit., "agree cannon"), which garners three quarters of a million ghits.

A Chinese friend called my attention to this richly illustrated article which talks about yuēpào 约炮 in the context of "bottles for bodies" at Tianjin Normal University.  Apparently guys will drive up outside the campus and place beverage bottles on the hood or top of their fancy cars, different types of bottles standing for different prices to be paid for a one night stand or booty call.

The friend who sent me the above cited article explains the term and the practice thus:

Yuēpào 约炮 is a new term from the argot of new-age sex culture: 约 — make an appointment; 炮 — short for dǎpào 打炮 (lit., to fire a canon; fig., to have sex with sb, usually with a prostitute). So 约炮 means to make an appointment (popularly to make an appointment online) for having (commonly one-time) sex (not necessarily with a prostitute [male or female] and more commonly with a casual or occasional acquaintance). In the case of the report, those college students are not professional sex workers but sell sex to make money as an "odd job," so to speak.

The article also mentions a notorious case from October, 2014 in which the principal of a college in Wuhan that operated a supposed "five star hotel" on campus was supplying the hotel with female students from his own college to màiyín 卖淫 (lit., "sell illicit sex", i.e., "engage in prostituion").  I heard about the Wuhan case at the time, but this business of beverage bottles on car tops and car hoods is a new twist in student prostitution.

On the one hand, the government is zealous in censoring what is written about on the internet, yet they don't seem to be able to control what goes on at the gates of their institutions of higher learning.  The answer may lie in who can afford those fancy cars parked outside with bottles placed on top.


  1. Michael Watts said,

    January 10, 2018 @ 3:35 pm

    "Date sex" or maybe e.g. "Date bang" seems like a fairer "literal translation" of 约炮 than "agree cannon". The first syllable is obviously from 约会 "date", and relates to making appointments only in the sense that dates are generally arranged in advance.

    约炮 is certainly used in the context of payment-free sex.

  2. 昂 said,

    January 11, 2018 @ 1:46 am

    The term 約炮 is roughly a decade old based on my own experience in Taiwan. It just means 'hook up'. This new mainland botte-on-car trend is something that people I know have been talking about based on what they've seen online, but no Chinese person I've met from the mainland or otherwise has personally seen such a car. That's just the same my anecdotal experience, nonetheless I'm slightly skeptical about how widespread the trend is.

    Like the earlier commenter I don't think that 打炮is necessarily with a prostitute, it's usually not paid for. I do agree with the article in one respect, it is the internet that has facilitated the transition from 打炮 to 約炮, specifically hookup apps or 交友軟體

    The terminology related to these terms is very developed at this stage. If a dating profile has 可約 the person is willing to consider arranging a hook up, if the profile has 現約, then they are open to hooking up as soon as possible with minimum prior notice. This is interesting because it shows 約炮 is well established enough that 可約 is never interpreted as 可以約會

  3. Brendan said,

    January 11, 2018 @ 11:45 am

    約炮 yuē pào has been around for a few years, I think, though it's probably become a lot more common of late thanks to the profusion of dating apps and chat apps like WeChat. Though undoubtedly related to 打炮 dǎ pào, I suspect the more immediate antecedent is 炮友 pàoyǒu ("bang-buddy," which means exactly what one would think), which was pretty common a decade or more ago. In certain circles, at least.

  4. Victor Mair said,

    January 11, 2018 @ 5:33 pm

    From Jichang Lulu:

    I must beg to differ on the point on whether you hadn't encountered the expression before yesterday. In fact, you had covered it on LL.


    A black hole in my memory!

    And that wasn't so long ago:

    "Apps for casual sex" (8/4/16)

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