On the Versatility of Landmines

Just coming off this lovely four day vacation for 中秋節 (Happy post-Moon Festival everyone by the way!) and I’m bringing you this fun new colloquialism that I’ve heard used on and off both in the office and outside with friends. And yes, it is the namesake of this post!

地雷
ㄉㄧˋㄌㄟˊ [dì​léi]
landmine

I don’t think I’ve ever come across such versatile use of the word “landmine” before, but it’s super fun to use. For example, when you’re out to lunch and have a crappy dessert or an even worse cup of coffee you can refer to it as 地雷:「這個蛋糕是地雷」。

It’s come to mean something that isn’t/wasn’t worth buying, or something that is famous in name only but in reality is actually pretty awful.

Some examples from the news:

吃對了嗎?5種體質防蔬果地雷
用LINE10大地雷 最恨「顯示已讀不回」
外食族減重 避開3大早餐地雷

Funnily enough, this can also be used to refer to Windows ME, Windows Vista and Windows 8.

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8 thoughts on “On the Versatility of Landmines

  1. Interesting, I’d not heard of this. From the example links you gave it seems analogous to the English ‘pitfall’. Thanks for posting!

    • Thanks for your comment!

      It’s a really fun one, and I love hearing my coworkers go around and calling each other “landmines”. I was so confused for the longest time, thinking things were not getting done (sounded like “delay”) but well, we all learn things I guess!

  2. Taïwanvore butler

    I’v often seen it in the expression「中地雷」, gotta love the versatility of 「中」too 🙂 Also heard it used for events or classes that sound interesting but end up being a disappointment. Indeed a fun one to know!

  3. Interestingly (to me at least) Japanese uses the same characters for “land mine” and has a somewhat similar expression using it – 地雷を踏む, jirai o fumu, “to step on a landmine” usually used to express having said something one ought to have left unsaid – I suppose the closest English equivalent would be “hit a sore spot”.

    From Kotobank – 相手が触れて欲しくないことを、うっかり口に出してしまうこと。

  4. Huh. You know, that makes complete and total sense. Any idea if this can be used in reference people too? IE: someone who is two-faced or a celebrity who is actually kind of a jerk?

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