sheng nu

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Alternative forms


Borrowed from Mandarin 剩女 (shèngnǚ, “leftover woman”).[1] Typologically compare Turkish kalık (residue, leftover; leftover woman, spinster).


sheng nu (plural sheng nu)

  1. (derogatory) A woman in her mid- to late twenties and not yet married, particularly an unmarried successful businesswoman.
    • 2010 Schott, Ben (15 March 2010). "Leftover Ladies & 3S Women". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
      The increasing prevalence of shengnü in China has boosted the number of shengnan – leftover men.
    • 2012, Fincher, Leta Hong (12 October 2012). "OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR; China's 'Leftover' Women". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 April 2013:
      In 2007, the Women’s Federation defined “leftover” women (sheng nu) as unmarried women over the age of 27 and China’s Ministry of Education added the term to its official lexicon.
    • 2012, Robert L. Moore and Li Wei, "Modern Love in China", in Michele Antoinette Paludi, The Psychology of Love, volume 1, page 31:
      Most of these parents come to this “marriage market” out of concern for their child being sheng nu (leftover women) or sheng nan (leftover men))—a rather stigmatized term for a growing number of young men and young women in their late twenties and early thirties who are well educated and career-minded but still single.
    • 2012, Sebag-Montefiore, Clarissa (August 21, 2012). "Romance With Chinese Characteristics". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-12-24.
      Women, meanwhile, must be married by 27; after that they are branded sheng nu or “leftover women.” (This derogatory term — whose prefix “sheng” is the same word used in “leftover food” — was listed as a new word in 2007 by the Chinese Ministry of Education).
    • 2013, Liza Mundy, The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Our Culture, page 211:
      In China, the growing ranks of educated unmarried females are referred to as sheng nu, or “left—over women.”
    • 2013, "BE MY KEPT WOMAN - actress asked to 'name her price'", Malaysia Chronicle (Wednesday, July 31, 2013):
      "I'm definitely a 'sheng nu' (leftover woman). Women should learn to take it in their stride, and (realise) it's just a label that society gives us," Tsui said.

Usage notes

  • Used especially of educated mainland Chinese women.



See also


  1. ^ Magistad, Mary Kay (20 February 2013). "BBC News - China's 'leftover women', unmarried at 27". BBC News (Beijing). Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  2. ^ Schott, Ben (15 March 2010). "Leftover Ladies & 3S Women". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 April 2013.