Do you have a piercing gaze that stops your kids in their tracks? Or a commanding tone of voice that never fails to get attention? Thank the year you were born. Your Chinese zodiac sign may make you intimidating to others, and depending on which sign you were born under, that intimidation takes different forms.
Like the Western zodiac, the Chinese zodiac has 12 different signs, each of which has its own personality, according to the Chinese New Year website. Legend has it that the Jade Emperor summoned a group of animals to be his palace guards, and the order in which they arrived to the palace — Rat taking the lead and Pig bringing up the rear — determined their place in the zodiac cycle. Rather than calculating the signs by months, Chinese astrology goes on annual cycles; your sign is determined by your year of birth (with the year beginning on the Lunar New Year, usually in early February).
Astrologer and YouTube star Donna Stellhorn tells Romper that not every sign is conventionally intimidating "because some signs just aren't that scary." Still, there are different ways to make people uncomfortable, from being too clingy to laying on guilt trips, and each Chinese zodiac sign has its own way of making you squirm. Stellhorn, who's also an expert in feng shui, offers her insight on what makes each sign a force to be reckoned with.
Rat (1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020)
People born in a Rat year are typically sociable and adaptable, with a good head for business, according to Travel China Guide. However, adds Stellhorn, "Don't be offended if Rat natives seem to be more focused on the money than on you. They can forget your birthday, anniversary, or that you're in the room." This ability to shut out others can be off-putting to people who don't know Rats well.
Ox (1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021)
Like their namesakes, the Ox-born are reliable, hard-working and determined. They don't lose their cool easily, but "interruptions and blocks can cause a slow-building anger that will eventually spill over, like lava from a volcano," cautions Stellhorn. And when they erupt, everyone runs for cover.
Tiger (1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022)
Tigers are normally kind, tireless, and resilient, according to the Chinese New Year website. But like the big cats themselves, they're not to be messed with, and you'd be wise to remember that. "Claws, teeth, and a very quick mind make Tigers quite the adversary," says Stellhorn. "Cross a Tiger, and you'll be lunch."
Rabbit (1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023)
Gentler than the other signs of the zodiac, the Rabbit doesn't like getting into fights, explained China Travel Guide. But they're also very sensitive, and you'll need to watch what you say around them, which can be intimidating, says Stellhorn. "If you hurt their feelings, they'll remind you over and over for the rest of your life."
Dragon (1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024)
Charming and ambitious, the Dragon is the most powerful of the 12 zodiac signs, explains Stellhorn. But they can also be arrogant, per China Travel Guide, which doesn't make them the most approachable folks. Plus, "if you anger a Dragon, you'll receive the worst punishment they can imagine: You will be ignored," says Stellhorn.
Snake (1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025)
The Snake's high intelligence can be intimidating in itself, as can their distrust of others, according to Chinese New Year. They also have an ability to "study your weakness, build a trap, and watch you fall right into it," says Stellhorn.
Horse (1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026)
Horse-born folks are powerful and popular, says Stellhorn, but they won't lose any sleep if you don't want to join their herd of friends. The Chinese New Year site added that, like the swift animals themselves, Horses go at their own pace, and it can be tough to keep up with them — or to deal with their impatience when you can't.
Sheep (1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027)
Also known as the Goat, these mellow and good-natured people are "social and supportive," says Stellhorn... as long as you play nice with them. "Cross a Sheep, and he'll butt you off the mountain." Chinese New Year added that Sheep can also be stubborn and anxious, and it's not always easy dealing with their insecurities.
Monkey (1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028)
The lively, fun-loving Monkey is "probably the most intimidating of all the signs, because they're wicked smart," says Stellhorn. "They will shine a light on whatever is ridiculous about you and have the whole room laughing." They also become easily jealous, according to Chinese New Year, and they may be secretly resentful if they think you're better off than they are.
Rooster (1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029)
"The manager of the barnyard," according to Stellhorn, the Rooster "is more interested in getting everything done than in threatening anyone." But if you're not pulling your weight, either at work or in a relationship, then watch out. Roosters can be argumentative, added Chinese New Year, and they don't change their point of view easily.
Dog (1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030)
Just as actual dogs are loyal to their pack, people born in Dog years are sociable and love company, explains Stellhorn. But, she adds, this quality can also make them "that" friend who can freak you out a bit with their persistence. "They can bark at you — sometimes endlessly — and try to get you back into their pack."
Pig (1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031)
People born in the Year of the Pig love to live high on the hog, as it were. "Pig natives love luxury, comfort, good food and drink," says Stellhorn, and they're tolerant of others' foibles, as long as you don't interfere with their good time. Chinese New Year added that Pig women can be a little too friendly, to the point where they forget to give you some personal space. If you have a Pig friend, you might feel hemmed in sometimes.