18 “Forever God” – 永远的神 (Yǒngyuǎn de shén)

Robert A. Castano

simplified Chinese: 永远的神 ; pinyin: Yǒngyuǎn de shén

“Forever God”

Yǒngyuǎn de shén (永远的神 or YYDS) is a term that literally means “forever god”. However, in a more contemporary sense, it is close to GOAT, or Greatest Of All Time, as is popular in Western culture. Yǒngyuǎn de shén encapsulates a general spirit of courage in Chinese culture, but it recently gained popular usage as a phrase of personal empowerment, stemming from video game League of Legends players during competitive matches. Consequently, when someone accomplishes a great feat, such as Chinese Olympian Su Bingtian breaking the 100 meters record or a video game player securing a hard-fought victory, the phrase “YYDS!” is deployed.

The primary context in which YYDS is used originally comprised of mainly video game lobbies or chat logs. But the phrase has gained popularity in many realms and has grown to embody a spirit of personal courage, empowerment, and accomplishment. YYDS can also be used casually, such as one might say “Taylor Swift is the GOAT.” As such, in China, one might say “These noodles are so good, they’re YYDS!” And so YYDS can be used in a variety of contexts, from casual conversation to a high-intensity competitive moment to a heated debate about whose idol is the greatest of all time.

YYDS is an interesting phenomenon as a usage of slang in contemporary society. From its origins in gaming communities, its use of hyperbole as something being a “forever god” is a fantastic way of expressing pride in your tastes, your idols and their accomplishments, and your spirit of courage in the face of adversity. YYDS has become such a popular term that it even topped many year end lists of the most-used slang in China for the past few years, especially the breakout year of its usage in 2021. But note that YYDS is not said out loud in-person. YYDS is strictly a digitally used term, which speaks volumes about the relevance of the digital world in Chinese society as Chinese citizens are ever increasingly online and engaging in the newest trends.

Of course, in the digital world, slang comes and goes at breakneck speeds. A phrase or term widely used today will tomorrow seem outdated and awkward to say. However, I personally think that YYDS has significant staying power, much like GOAT has been widely used for many years in the United States. Who doesn’t love heaping praise on their favorite idols, athletes, foods, and much more? I believe YYDS will remain relevant for many years to come, and even more so as more and more people are plugged in to debate and converse online about the wide gamut of life and empowerment in what we accomplish therein.



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"Forever God" - 永远的神 (Yǒngyuǎn de shén) Copyright © 2024 by Robert A. Castano is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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