Ming Dynasty derogatory terms for outlaws, foreigners and barbarians

Although most of these terms can be translated to "barbarian" in English, each of these words has different meaning in Chinese and cannot be used interchangeably.


Man (蠻)

Used to mean "Southern barbarian", its meaning shifted to "uncivilised barbarian" during Ming period.

Lu (虜)

Northern nomadic barbarian like the Mongols.

Fan (番 or 蕃)

Primitive barbarian or tribal barbarian.

Yi (夷)

Foreign barbarian.


Dao (盜)


Kou (寇)

Robber, bandit, pirate or other violent outlaws.

Zei (賊)

Traitor or hated enemy. In modern Chinese, it means "thief".

Di (敵)

Enemy. This term was more neutral than Zei.


Wo (倭)

Japanese. This term did not have strong negative connotation back then.

Da Da (鞑靼)

Tatars. During Ming period this term was applied to Eastern Mongols to distinguish them from the Oirats.

Tu Fan (吐蕃)


Fo Lang Ji (佛朗機)

Chinese transcription of the word "Franks", referring to Portuguese people.

Lu Song (呂宋)

Chine transcription of the word "Luzon", referring to Luzon island of Philippines. After the Spanish colonisation of Philippines, this term was applied to the Spanish people as well.

Ao Yi (澳夷)

Literally "Macao barbarian", referring to Portuguese people.

Hong Yi (紅夷)

Literally "Red barbarian", referring to Dutch people.

Hei Fan Gui (黑番鬼)

Literally "Black barbarian ghost", referring to Negrito people (Southeast Asia).

Ji Hei Fan (極黑番)

Literally "Extremely black barbarian", referring to Negro people (South Africa).


Rong (戎)

Western barbarian.

Di (狄)

Northern barbarian.

Hu (胡)

Non-Chinese or nomadic barbarian.

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