Fang nu and luo hun

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Wed Jan 4 18:52:25 UTC 2012

1. The word "fang nu" appeared again in the Seattle Times today, with a translation of "house slaves."

A fang nu is a person whose home loan takes such a large part of their paycheck, they become like a slave working to pay it off. It seems likely this is fángnú (房奴) (

"China's housing bubble is losing air," David Pierson, Los Angeles Times (

That's news to millions of Chinese for whom real estate ownership has become an obsession. The mania has cemented itself into the national zeitgeist, inspiring a wildly popular soap opera, songs and even new slang. Debt-strapped home buyers have been dubbed fang nu, or house slaves. Couples who wed without owning a home are said to have a luo hun, or a naked marriage.

The earliest I see this term on Google is August 21, 2007:

"House slaves and brokebacks find true calling," The Standard (Reuters) (

Economic reforms and soaring rates of home ownership have coined a new moniker for those struggling to pay off home loans: fang nu, or "house slaves."

2. Also in that first citation above is "luo hun," meaning a "naked marriage" or a no-frills marriage. It appears to be luǒhūn (裸婚) (

The earliest I see this on Google is January 7, 2010:

Chinese youth take to ‘naked weddings’, Venkatesan Vembu (

“It’s not what you think,” Li says. “A luo hun (‘naked wedding’) is a ‘no-frills civil wedding’: it means getting married without a house of our own, a car, a wedding ring — or even a wedding ceremony.”

Benjamin Barrett
Seattle, WA

The American Dialect Society -

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