Tai tai

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Tai tai
Shogi ag44.png
Shogi ag44.png
Also spelled taitai,[1] tai-tai, or taai taai.

Tai tai (太太) is a Chinese colloquial term for an elected leader-wife; or a wealthy married woman who does not work.[2] It is the same as the Cantonese title for a married woman.[3] It has the same euphemistic value as "lady" in English: sometimes flattery, sometimes subtle insult.[citation needed] One author describes it as equivalent to the English term "ladies who lunch".[4]

Cultural significance[edit]

By the time of the May Fourth Movement in 1919, the term had come to imply a wife who was "dependent on her newly rising bourgeois husband" for her consumerist lifestyle, and Chinese feminists and "new women" of that era tried to disassociate themselves from the term precisely for that reason.[1]

The term has become well-known, and features in Western discussions in the field of Women's studies.[5] Pearl Buck uses the term to describe Madame Liang in her novel, Three Daughters of Madame Liang.[6]

The 1947 film Long Live the Missus! (Taitai wansui), written by Eileen Chang and directed by Sang Hu, represents conflicts between taitai in the mode of a comedy of manners.[7]


  1. ^ a b Wang Zheng (1999). Women in the Chinese Enlightenment. University of California Press. p. 20.
  2. ^ Sylvie Phillips (2005). Tai Tai Tales. Bangkok Books. ISBN 974-93100-3-9.
  3. ^ Price, Fiona L. (2007). Success with Asian Names: A Practical Guide for Business and Everyday life. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-85788-378-7.
  4. ^ Kain, Elizabeth (6 August 2008). "Are you a Tai Tai?". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  5. ^ Radosh, Alice; Maglin, Nan Bauer (2003). Women confronting retirement: a nontraditional guide. New Brunswick, N.J: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3126-8.
  6. ^ Buck, Three Daughters of Madame Liang. London: Moyer Bell, 1969.
  7. ^ Christopher Rea, trans. Long Live the Missus! (Taitai wansui): translation of the full filmscript. MCLC Online Publications, 2019: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/long-live-the-missus/