Vietnamese Slang // 8 Words You Need To Learn

Vietnamese Slang // Learn How To Speak Like A Native

Want to level up your Vietnamese to levels you’ve never seen before? Learning Vietnamese Slang is a great way to start!

Vietnamese slang, as with any language, is used frequently in daily conversations, especially amongst teenagers and young adults.

By learning slang we open new doors to a language that didn’t exist before. We understand the culture better and allows for easier integration! The benefits are endless!

Vietnamese Slang

These slang words can make sentences that bit more funny as well, but you also need to be careful and understand who you are speaking to when using slang

Do you want to be using slang around elderly or senior people? Probably not!

So by all means, use Vietnamese slang, but understand your situation and the context first and foremost!

We suggest you only use slang in conversations with friends or in informal situations. Anyway, if you want to immerse yourself into the Vietnamese culture, let’s learn the following slang.

Your challenge is to make good use of them during your talks with local friends.

First word to learn though… slang of course!

Slang in Vietnamese is tiếng lóng.

Vietnamese Slang || Gấu (Girlfriend or Boyfriend)

Vietnamese Slang || Thả Thính (Flirt or Fish)

Vietnamese Slang || Chảnh Chó (Unfriendly)

Vietnamese Slang || Trẻ Trâu (Childish or Stubborn Kid)

Vietnamese Slang || Gato (To Be Jealous)

Vietnamese Slang || Cơm Chó / Cẩu Lương (Jealousy Over PDA)

Vietnamese Slang || Cười Sấp Mặt l (LMAO)

Vietnamese Slang || Ném đá (Criticize Someone Online)

Vietnamese Slang || FAQs

BONUS | We’ve got even more Vietnamese slang rolled into this lovely 10 minute guide with Quyen

Vietnamese Slang #1 – Gấu (Girlfriend or Boyfriend)

Slang words in Vietnamese

In Vietnamese, “Gấu” literally means “bear”. Sounds weird right, stay with us!

In teenage language, it refers to a boyfriend or girlfriend.

You may ask “What? Why a bear?

The reason is “Gấu” or “stuffed bear” is a common gift that a boyfriend gives his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day or a birthday in Vietnam (and many Asian countries in fact) so she can go to bed and feel cozy. 

Example:

A: – Em có gấu chưa? (Do you have a boyfriend?)

B: – Chưa anh ạ! (Not yet!)

Vietnamese Slang #2 – Thả Thính (Flirt or Fish)

Slang words in Vietnamese

So, what do you have to do to get a “Gấu”?

Well, you have to flirt with them or “Thả thính”.

“Thả thính” literally means “to throw bait”.

Traditionally, Vietnamese people use “thính” to catch shrimps and all shrimps fell in love with “thính” immediately.

The young generation gave it a new meaning – to flirt. There are many pick-up lines for you to “thả thính” in Vietnamese.

Example:

Do you have a map? Because I’m lost in your eyes.
Anh có bản đồ không bởi em đã lạc lối trong đôi mắt anh rồi. 

Sounds so sweet, right? Stay tuned, we’ve got plenty more Vietnamese chat up lines coming your way in other posts! 

Vietnamese Dialects // North or South? Thumbnail

Vietnamese Dialects // North or South?

North vs South? Vietnamese dialects can vary quite significantly. This is one of the very early questions a Vietnamese learner asks themselves.

Vietnamese Slang #3 – Chảnh Chó (Unfriendly)

You approach someone online or in-person to chat or “thả thính” but they do not reply, however you can see they have seen the message (don’t you just hate that)!

How would you call these people in Vietnamese?

We have a unique word to describe such an arrogant/irritating person like that – “chảnh chó”. “

Chảnh chó” literally means “an unfriendly/arrogant dog”.

Vietnamese Slang

An unfriendly dog may bark at whoever approaches it, showing little friendliness, just like those people who show their annoying face or even stay silent when you try to talk to them.   

In reality, anyone who acts like they are superior to others or like a diva will be contemptuously called “chảnh chó” in Vietnamese Slang.

In English, you may use a word like “hostile” to describe this kind of person.

Example:

Take this short dialogue of A trying to set up a meet with B…

A: – Đi chơi không mày? (Wanna hang out?)

B: – Không thèm! (Nope!)

A: – Chảnh chó! (Cold fish)

A certainly won’t be meeting B anytime soon!

The Best Vietnamese Podcasts You Need To Know About (for 2024) Thumbnail

The Best Vietnamese Podcasts You Need To Know About (for 2024)

Podcasts are a super way to learn. With that being said we have prepared a list of the top 10 Vietnamese podcasts to help improve your language skills.

Vietnamese Slang #4 – Trẻ trâu (Childish or Stubborn Kid)

“Trẻ” means “young”, and “trâu” means “the buffalo”.

Vietnamese Slang Words

Therefore Trẻ trâu = Young Buffalo! So why childish/stubborn?

There is a saying in Vietnam “Đàn gảy tai trâu” to talk about those who are pig-headed and never consider other opinions or advice.

The word “trâu” in “trẻ trâu” comes from that saying. 

Looking at another angle… as Vietnam is a country that thrives on agriculture, we highly value buffaloes which are a farmer’s best friend on the paddy fields.

In the past, children had to work on the fields with their families buffaloes at a very young age and were not able to go to school. Due to this the children would generally become naughty and mischievous.

Some wealthy families prohibited their children from playing with those “children on buffaloes” because they didn’t want their children to have any relationship with so-called uneducated people.    

Thus, “Trẻ trâu” is used to describe a person that is superficial, stubborn, likes to show off, and has uncontrollable actions but always thinks what he/she does is always the best way i.e. “cool ngầu” in Vietnamese. 

Vietnamese Slang #5 – Gato (To Be Jealous)

Gato is an abbreviation for “ghen ăn tức ” which means “to be jealous”.

Interestingly, it’s pronounced as “gateaux” in French.

Although jealousy is considered a bad personality trait in Vietnamese culture, “Gato” is frequently used to express a good admiration to others or as a fun way to express one’s envy.  

Example:

A: – Mình mới được học bổng toàn phần đó! (I just got a full-tuition scholarship)

B:- Ỏ, Gato ghê! (Wow, I’m so jealous!) 

Vietnamese Slang #6 – Cơm Chó / Cẩu Lương (Jealousy Over PDA)

Just in case you didn’t know PDA stands for Public Display of Affection in English. See, we’re even teaching you English slang!

So we have another slang term about jealousy, but this one is used very differently to the previous one.

Cẩu lương originates from a Chinese phrase that literally means “dog food”.

Gradually though, another version became more popular – cơm chó and it sounds much funnier. 

Vietnamese people always make fun of being single. You may hear them say that it is a “youth taboo” not to ask them about their relationship during the Tet holiday or family reunion.

Single people are “sensitive” or “gato” over couples that express their love in front of them. This is where the word cơm chó is used!

Vietnamese Slang #7 – Cười Sấp Mặt L (LMAO)

ANOTHER DISCLAIMER – LMAO means Laughing My Ass Off in English slang. One of the older new-generational slang terms from the explosion of instant messaging online.

Slang words in Vietnamese

In the past few years, laughing my ass off or LMAO has become increasingly popular amongst the youth in Vietnam also.

However, they also came up with a Vietnamese equivalent – cười sấp mặt l or cười sml. 

Another version of lmao is “cười vãi chưởng”.

“Vãi chưởng” means extremely, really, very, etc.

Besides laughing, you can also use “vãi chưởng” to express your surprise such as in “ngon vãi chưởng” – so delicious, “hài vãi chưởng” – so funny, “đỉnh vãi” – so talented, etc.

Also, “chưởng” can always be omitted.  

Be careful with the last word “L”. It is quite rude to say the complete word so we suggest you to use its abbreviation “sml” in any case: both in-person and online.

Vietnamese Slang #8 – Ném đá (Criticize Someone Online)

Slang words in Vietnamese

“Ném đá” literally means “throw a rock”.

However, in the context of social media, it means to criticize someone or belittle them in front of a wider audience.

Pretty mean right?!

It stems from an idiom in Vietnamese – “ném đá giấu tay”, which has an equivalent in English that is roughly “a snake in the grass”.

If you hate someone on social media, you may want to publicly “ném đá” them.


There we have it, some of the most popular Vietnamese slang terms to use today.

Do you know anymore, or did we miss some good ones out? Drop us a comment below and tell us!

WANT MORE? Why not discover some of the most commonly used Chinese slang terms, the best slang in Japan, Italy and Russia, or the top Korean slang terms used today as well 😎

Vietnamese Slang || FAQs

Is there slang in the Vietnamese language?

Absolutely – as with any language slang is very common and in Vietnamese it’s no different.

How do you say the word “slang” in Vietnamese?

Slang in Vietnamese is tiếng lóng.

What is LMAO in Vietnamese?

LMAO in Vietnamese slang is cười sấp mặt l or cười sm.

What is the slang in Vietnamese “to flirt”?

If you want to flirt in Vietnamese you would use Thả Thính.

Traditionally, Vietnamese people use “thính” to catch shrimps and all shrimps fell in love with “thính” immediately.

The young generation gave it a new meaning – to flirt. There are many pick-up lines for you to “thả thính” in Vietnamese.

What does Gato mean?

Gato is the Vietnamese Slang for being jealous!

Interestingly, it’s pronounced as “gateaux” in French.

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8 comments

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  1. These are great, thanks for sharing

    1. Max Hobbs

      Our pleasure Kane!

  2. Difficult language

    1. Max Hobbs

      Not easy, but doable!!

  3. Great list, difficult to learn though!

    1. LTL Team HQ

      Keep practising Tim!

  4. Who knew half of these 😂

    1. Max Hobbs

      Now you do!