Here’s a quick post about a slang word that came into wide usage a few years ago to describe something as being “popular”:
The image above shows the word in use at a Subway sandwich shop in Taiwan, the content of the sign isn’t really that important but for the record it’s for a special offer on a sliced Chicken egg sandwich. The word 夯 can be seen in the bottom right, emphasising that this sandwich is very popular.
The word has essentially the same meaning as 熱門（热门 rè mén） or 紅（红 hóng） which also both mean “popular”. here’s a couple of examples of 夯 in use so you can get an idea of how to use it:
zhègè gēshǒu zuìjìn hěn hāng
This singer is really popular recently
píngguǒ de iPad2 mài de hěn hāng
Apple’s iPad 2 is selling really well
While I couldn’t find any concrete explanation about where this usage of 夯 comes from, but looking at the character itself it’s most likely just because it’s 大 and 力, “big” and “power”, so naturally if something sell with “big power” then it’s selling well. Though the actual/original meaning of 夯 is to tamp.
edit – I should probably say that this usage originated in Taiwan so it’s mileage on the mainland may vary. But just like Taiwanese have heard of 給力, it is highly probable that 夯 is known on the mainland.
Not longer after writing this post I saw the following sign at a local Taiwanese stationary shop that shows 夯 in use.
Also noteworthy is the use of ‘hito’ on the sign which is from Japanese, and obviously the English ‘chart topping’. With all of these cliches it’s suprising it doesn’t also read ‘selling like hot cakes’ at the bottom!