noun, plural Chi·nese.

  1. the standard language of China, based on the speech of Beijing; Mandarin.
  2. a group of languages of the Sino-Tibetan family, including standard Chinese and most of the other languages of China. Abbreviation: Chin., Chin
  3. any of the Chinese languages, which vary among themselves to the point of mutual unintelligibility.
  4. a native or descendant of a native of China.


  1. of or relating to China, its inhabitants, or one of their languages.
  2. noting or pertaining to the partly logographic, partly phonetic script used for the writing of Chinese, Japanese, and other languages, consisting of thousands of brushstroke characters written in vertical columns from right to left.


  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of China, its people, or their languages


  1. plural -nese a native or inhabitant of China or a descendant of one
  2. any of the languages of China belonging to the Sino-Tibetan family, sometimes regarded as dialects of one language. They share a single writing system that is not phonetic but ideographic. A phonetic system using the Roman alphabet was officially adopted by the Chinese government in 1966See also Mandarin Chinese, Pekingese, Cantonese

1570s, from China + -ese. As a noun from c.1600. Chinee (n.) is a vulgar back-formation from this word on the mistaken notion that the word is a plural. As an adjective, Chinish also was used 16c. Chinese fire-drill “chaotic situation of many people rushing around futilely” is attested by 1962, U.S. military slang. The game Chinese checkers is attested from 1938.

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