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Is the expression 冰雪聪明 (bīng xuě cōng míng) really only used for girls? The literal translation is "snow smart" and I understand it means something along the lines of "extremely smart" but the times I've tried using it for boys/men I'm told it's only for girls.

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As it is used overwhelmingly for girls, I feel it sounds like a gay if use it to describe a man. –  Stan Jan 6 at 1:19
    
You can use tone numbers to indicate tones if you are not sure how to type letters with accent marks. –  deutschZuid Jan 6 at 1:39
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@deutschZuid this idiom should pronounce bīng xuě cōng míng. Not cōng ming. –  Stan Jan 6 at 2:04
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冰 and 雪 implies purity and innocence, that's why 冰雪聪明 is mainly used to describe smart young girls. –  Question Overflow Jan 6 at 2:55
    
@Stan Interesting. I have never heard anyone pronounce it like that. –  deutschZuid Jan 6 at 3:48

3 Answers 3

冰雪聪明 always describes that someone is very clever and smart. It comes from 唐·杜甫《送樊二十三侍御赴汉中判官》诗:“坐知七曜历,手画三军势。冰雪净聪明,雷霆走精锐。”. But 冰雪聪明 is not only for girl.

冰雪聪明 can be used to describe the child too----冰雪聪明的孩子, but be careful when you use it to describe adult, especially male adult.

Other examples in ancient articles:

以冰雪聪明的文章,写雷霆精锐的思想,这种议论,就容易动人听闻了。(清·曾朴《孽海花》第十回)

姬冰雪聪明,靡不淹悟,类多韜匿不言。(清·陈孟楷 《湘烟小录·香畹楼忆语》)

Source:

為何叫冰雪聰明

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I would say, in most cases it is used to describe young girls. In some other cases, if people want to make their comments/conversation to take a flavor of humor, they can be used to describe boys/men.

才貌双全 is relatively more neutral.

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According to baidu (http://baike.baidu.com/view/117274.htm), it is usually used to describe women, but can occasionally be used to describe men as well. "这个词通常用来形容年轻女子。 ... 有时也可用于才貌双全的男性。"

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