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The dictionary defines 修养 as:

accomplishment / training / self-cultivation

However many examples in context seem to have the sense of the development of being a gentleman / lady, or being cultured.

I would like to know what kind of personal development 修养 implies. In western bookshops, for example, there is often a "self help" section. Is this 修养? What about religious practice?

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素质 and 修养 are always used together. "一个高素质高修养的人" is a gentleman that's kind and educated. –  gonnastop Mar 18 '12 at 7:16
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

From Baidu Baike:

指人的行为和涵养,与人的性格、心理、道德、文化等有着紧密的联系,即为人综合素质的表现。

Simple Translation:

修养 refers to a person's behavior and conservation, which is closely linked with his personality, psychological state, moral view, cultural knowledge and things. It is the overall quality of a person.

So it is a big word. It can refer to how much a person knows in a particular area, or how a person treat the others, or many things else.

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I agree. I think it has some of the nuances of 'breeding'. I also suspect the term has Confucian overtones -- it sounds like the thinking of Zhu Xi and people of that era, who talked of things like moral cultivation. –  Bathrobe Feb 21 '12 at 2:10
    
@Bathrobe Yeah~ The Baidu Baike page includes a paragraph from Cheng Yi's works. Cheng Yi and Zhu Xi are usually mentioned together. –  coolcfan Feb 21 '12 at 3:14
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