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拉倒 is a word that can mean "forget about it". For example:

鲁迅 《华盖集续编·马上支日记》:“现在这书既然借不到,只好拉倒了。”

This seems strange though, because 拉倒 literally means "to pull over". What is the etymology of this word? What was being "pulled over" that signified forgetting about something?

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The image of this word in my mind is a middle-aged woman from northeastern China saying it with a contempt face. – Stan Feb 18 '14 at 15:02
I think 拉倒 is used as a figure of speech to imply bringing down something that you have put up earlier. It is usually spoken when you want to conditionally rescind an offer. – 杨以轩 Feb 19 '14 at 8:03


In a mandarian Chinese, this really means "pull down". However the words are constructing a certain dialect's pronunciations, so you cannot split words from words to understand its meaning. In ShangHai dialect, this means "give up because of no choices or no other ways", "Have to do something narrowly":

【e.g】既然你不肯给我东西,那就*拉倒*了。(=那就算了) Since you won't lend me what I want, that's all for that.

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If it's from Shanghainese, can you help us figure out what the etymologically correct characters are? For example, in Shanghainese, "thing" is sometimes written as "么子" (to imitate the pronunciation). The etymologically correct characters are "物事". – Stumpy Joe Pete Feb 19 '14 at 1:43
I doubt 拉倒 is from Shanghainese. Check this link and this It seems people from Northern also use 拉倒. I would also say 算素(pronunciation) in Shanghainese for the same meaning, but I'm not sure I use which one more often. – hrzhu Feb 19 '14 at 11:41
Even if this isn't a ShangHai dialect, maybe this must be something dialect in my mind. We only use the word each by each to make the whole "pronunciations". – CA55CE37 Feb 21 '14 at 5:35
@CA55CE37 why are you so sure that it originated from a dialect, that is, no relation to the meaning of its component characters? Do you have any sources or even anecdotal evidence? – congusbongus Feb 21 '14 at 6:08
@congusbongus: I guess according to my sense……Haha. But there are quite a lot of such senarios such as: 拉法莉(Referee), 昂三……These words don't have a real source or meaning, they may just come from English (fully or part of that or other foreign languages'pronunciations) to mean a specific thing. – CA55CE37 Feb 23 '14 at 1:20

I'm just guessing and have no idea if it's related but the verb for "building up" relationship is 「建立」, as in 「建立關係」, or 「建立信用」。 And it means exactly the opposite of 拉倒

So if it cannot be "built up", it might as well be "pulled down"

Maybe it was a nicely-done word play by 魯迅

my 2c.

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Someone said it comes from The Manchu language


or it comes from Mandarin dialect


But hi, 拉倒 can simply means pull down, so it means when all things fall apart you can forget about it.

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These are both interesting ideas, but which one is right? They are both unsourced. The former is especially suspicious in that it does not mention which Manchurian phrase it originated from; it shouldn't be hard to find if it really came from Manchurian. – congusbongus Mar 13 '14 at 3:52
@congusbongus Maybe the word comes from Qing Dynasty time, it has both Mandarin and Manchurian roots. – Ave Maleficum Mar 13 '14 at 3:54

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