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Definition of tuhao heats up Internet, August 28, 2014 Adjust font size:

A widely-spread cartoon with the words: "Tuhao, let's be friends!"

The expression also stirred controversy among language experts.

Zhang Yisheng, director of the Language Research Institute at Shanghai Normal University, has been researching popular online words, including tuhao.

He doesn't agree fully with the definition given by the dictionary, saying that tuhao can be interpreted as "someone who has a lot of money but can't follow trends and in consequence speaks or behaves in an outdated way that is inappropriate, considering their wealth and social status".

The word also attracts attention from overseas media. The BBC once quoted a professor's words, "To say someone is tuhao is to imply they come from a poor peasant background, and have made it rich quick - but don't quite have the manners, or sophistication to go along with it."

The Chinese expression referred originally to landlords living in rural areas who had a lot of money, land and power and who often bullied peasants.

This new usage of the term became popular in September 2013 after a widely-shared joke, which goes like this: A rich but unhappy man goes to a Buddhist monk for advice on how to live a happy life. The monk replies with the phrase: "Tuhao, let's be friends!"

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