In Chinese, to “立Lì flag” means to set a flag, meaning to set a challenge for yourself, but it’s a bit sarcastic as you don’t think you’ll succeed. It’s all used for very high or ambitious goals, but not necessarily unreachable ones. It’s a popular online Chinese buzzword now. Let’s look at some examples that show the 立flag meaning.
When we say “立 flag” it indicates even the speaker thinks that they may never reach their goal. “Flag” comes from “死亡flag” in Japanese anime. The classical plot is when someone promises some important thing, he/she will definitely die in the end and the promise will never be realized. So we use “立flag” to tease ourselves or others. “立flag” means the speaker doesn’t believe the goal will really be reached.
Because the character who gave promise will die, the promise/goal became a “死亡flag”, which means once you see some character said something similar, you know the character will definitely die. That’s why we always say some big goal is a “flag”.
Examples of 立flag:
To set a sporting challenge:
- Aya wǒ de shēntǐ bùxíng, wǒ lì gè flag: Wǒ huì pǎo mǎlāsōng
- Ah, my body is not good, I’ll set flag: I can run a marathon
Or for someone who has been trying to lose weight for years:
Person A says:
- Xiànzài wǒ zhēn de yāo jiǎnféile!
- Now I’m really going to lose weight!
Person B replies:
- Nǐ yòu lì flagle
- Nobody believes you will make it
Don’t jinx yourself
You can also use it in this kind of context:
- 你要跑马拉松？ 我的妈呀。努力就好，还是不要立flag吧。
- Nǐ yào pǎo mǎlāsōng? Wǒ de mā ya. Nǔlì jiù hǎo, háishì búyào lì flag ba 。
- You’re going to run a marathon? OMG. Just work hard and don’t set a flag (keep it quiet), don’t jinx yourself.
Famous last words
Because a flag represents a high goal, it can also be used sarcastically to say it will fail, or has already failed. Sometimes 立flag also means “famous last words”.
- 现在下雨了, 不是一个很特别的情况。我2021年下决心每天跑步，结果是我只跑了1周就放弃了——这就是立flag
- Xiànzài xià yǔle, bùshì yīgè hěn tèbié de qíngkuàng. Wǒ 2021 nián xia juéxīn měitiān pǎobù, jiéguǒ shì wǒ zhǐ pǎole 1 zhōu jiù fàngqìle — zhè jiùshì lì flag
- It’s raining now, it’s not a very special situation. I made up my mind to run every day in 2021, but I gave up after running for only 1 week — this is setting a flag.
If you’ve reached an impossible goal, however, you can say:
- Wasāi, chénggōngle, zhège flag bá diào!
- Wow, it worked, remove this flag!
Does that clarify 立flag meaning to you? Now go set one!