Rear View Assassin – Fun Chinese Slang

by Dave Flynn | 21st April, 2012 | Vocabulary |

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.

背影殺手(背影杀手)

Pinyin: bèiyǐng shāshǒu
English: Rear View Assassin; someone (generally a girl/woman) who can kill you with their looks from the back, but may not be so good looking from the front
Notes: sometimes abbreviated to 背殺(背杀 bèishā)

背影殺手
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.

How to use it

她是個背影殺手(她是个背影杀手
tā shì ge bèiyǐng shāshǒu

Easy, 吧!?

Usage around the web

There are quite a lot of results on the web for this phrase, including a few Chinese rage comics – here’s one showing the 背殺 abbreviation:

背影殺手 Rage

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:

雖然看過的女生那麼多,大部份的都是背影殺手(虽然看过的女生那么多,大部份的都是背影杀手
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.

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Dave Flynn

Dave is a designer of websites, learner of Chinese and lover of technology. Originally from the UK, he's been living in Taiwan and learning Mandarin Chinese for the last seven years. He founded and runs Chinese Hacks, a blog dedicated to effectively learning Chinese.

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Tags: #comic #Fun #funny #insult #joke #rage #slang #usage

2 Comments

  1. CJ

    “Butterface” was a term thrown around in my college days, referring to, “Everything about her is hot, but-her-face.”


  2. T

    I think “could kill you with her looks from the back” is not 100% correct.
    In that comic, the guys are killed by her face.
    People use to erase the bad memory, but keep the good part.
    So, we give the name with good part “背影” and remind you “she is a killer.”
    You will have ah~~~~ or ah! sound in your mind as someone is killed in the movie. haha