Computer – 电脑


  • 电脑 [電腦] / diàn nǎo / computer

Literally, and character-by-character, translates to ‘lightning brain’ or ‘electrical brain’

  • 电 [電] / diàn / electric
  • 脑 [腦] / nǎo / brain

Note that here are also other terms for computers that may or may not be more suitable in some contexts, like these ones:

  • 计算机 [計算機] / jì suàn  jī / computer, calculator
  • 计算计 [計算[計] / jì suàn jì /computer, calculator

Translates to…uh…’computational computing machine’ and, I guess,  ‘computational computing computer’.

It’s probably like this due to the low number of distinct syllables in Mandarin.

It’s like ‘PIN number’ is technically redundant¹², but if you were to leave out the ‘N’ in speaking, it could be misunderstood as ‘π number’ or ‘pie number’, causing all kinds of confusion under very contrived circumstances.

¹ The N in PIN stands for ‘Number’
² The N in PIN stands for ‘Number’

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