【Learn Chinese】Numbers and Chinese Internet Slang

Due to the huge number of homophones in Chinese, many different Chinese internet slang expressions have been created using just numbers. This is called 数字表示汉字 (shùzì biǎoshì hànzì; “numbers replacing characters”). Here are some of the most common examples:
1. 二百五 (èr bǎi wǔ; 250)
250 basically means “stupid” or “half-insane.” There are a few different theories about the origin of this phrase. One is that it is derived from the old coin system used in ancient China where 1,000 coins were grouped by a string called a 吊子 (diàozi).
半吊子 (bàndiàozi; half of a “diaozi” or 500 coins) was used as a phrase to demonstrates one’s humility in regards to knowledge. Half of this (250 coins) was used as an insult.
Another theory is that money was commonly grouped in envelopes of 500s (一封; yifēng; one envelope). 250 was 半封 (bànfēng; half an envelope), which sounds like 半疯 (bànfēng; half-insane) in both Mandarin and Cantonese.
Regardless of its origin, 二百五 (èr bǎi wǔ; 250) essentially translates to the English equivalent of “stupid,” or “not playing with a full deck.”
2. 五二零 (wǔ èr líng; 520)
This sounds like 我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ; I love you). In fact, May 20th (5/20) has become another Chinese Valentine's Day!
3. 七四八 (qīsìbā; 748)
Sounds like 去死吧 (qùsǐba; “Get lost!”).
4. 五五五 (wǔ wǔ wǔ; 555)
The number 5 sounds like “呜”, which is onomatopoeic for whimpering. Therefore, many netizens will use “555” to express sadness and sorrow.
5. 八八 (bābā; 88)
This represents "bye-bye."
6. 一三一四 (yī sān yī sì; 1314)
When read in Chinese, 1314 (yīsānyīsì) sounds similar to 一生一世 (yī shēng yī shì; “one life, one world”). This means “for the rest of my life” or “forever.”
7. 七四五六 (qī sì wǔ liù; 7456)
Sounds like 气死我了(qì sǐ wǒle; “you’re making me angry”).
8. 九九五 995 (jiǔjiǔwǔ; 995)
This sounds like 救救我  (jiùjiù wǒ; “save me!”).