I thought for ages before deciding on a title for this post, no matter what I came up with they all seemed, well, wrong. This just seems to be one of those phrases that is difficult to express succinctly in English, but that works so well in Chinese. I’ll explain what it means, and then let you make your own mind up about a good way to translate it into English.
Well, this image certainly came out looking more sinister than intended. Samurai on the right is from the movie Shogun Assassin
This saying is made up of two words, 背影 （bèiyǐng）which means “rear view”, or the view of someone from the back, and 殺手（杀手 shāshǒu）which means “assassin”. The phrase meaning that the person in question, usually female, could kill you with her looks from the back, though she may not be that pretty from the front. So the phrase might be used at a time when someone feels cheated that the woman they thought beautiful from the back, did not not live up to their expectations.
tā shì ge bèiyǐng shāshǒu
Here’s a track by Taiwanese rappers MF and 茶米, called 背影殺手, in which they recount their 背殺 experiences. The lyrics to the rap are included in the video comments if you click through. (Apologies if you’re in China, the video below is on Youtube).
Some of the lyrics that mentioned the phrase:
suīrán kànguò de nǚshēng nàme duō, dàbùfèn de dōu shì bèiyǐng shāshǒu
Even though there’s so many girls, most of them are rear view assassins
It probably goes without saying that this phrase is a bit impolite, so make sure you don’t offend anyone, unless, of course, that was your purpose.