Word of the Week: Iliopsoas

Word of the Week: Iliopsoas

The Word of the Week comes from the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around censorship and political correctness.

叉腰肌 (chāyāo jī): iliopsoas


Xie Yalong as a roadside quack, telling a woman that her awkward gait is caused by a weak iliopsoas. (Artist: 笨侠)

Inner hip muscles; obscure and negligible flaw.

Xie Yalong, former Deputy Chairman of the Chinese Football Association (the national soccer association), reprimanded the Chinese women’s team for its loss at the 2008 Olympics, saying the women needed to build their iliopsoas muscles. Netizens lampooned Xie, since “iliopsoas” isn’t exactly a household term. While the Football Association has been blamed for poor performance in men’s soccer, the woman’s soccer team has a much better overall record.

Netizens found it hypocritical that the Football Association could criticize the relatively successful women’s team for such an odd shortcoming when the Football Association itself was guilty of many greater failings. This obscure muscle group is used today to refer to those slight faults which are pointed out by those with much more obvious shortcomings.

In 2012, Xie Yalong was sentenced to ten-and-a-half years in jail on corruption charges.

Example of “iliopsoas”

Hupuzhongchao (@虎扑中超): The national soccer team works out so hard, I can’t even Doge org.gif


ouch1 ouch2 ouch3

Guangzhoubianfengxiejunhui (@广州边锋谢俊辉): Is this the legendary exercising of the iliopsoas? (January 21, 2015)

传说中的练叉腰肌? [Chinese]


Want to learn more subversive netizen slang? Check out Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang. Available for $2.99 in the Kindle, Google Play, and iTunes stores. All proceeds from the sale of this eBook support China Digital Times.


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