Questions related to idioms, maxims, sayings, and other expressions consisting of a combination of words that has an indirect, figurative meaning.

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11
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the exact meaning of 吃豆腐, and where does the expression come from?

I'm not talking about eating tofu, but the expression that means something more like taking advantage of someone. What exactly does 吃豆腐 mean, and where does this expression come from?
1
vote
3answers
197 views

How to use 如 to make comparisons or analogies

I see this come up sometimes in idioms, and I find it easy to understand but not easy to use(1) Is it used to spoken comparisons or analogies? Or is it only for literary, formal, fixed expression? If ...
3
votes
1answer
81 views

Meaning of 爱惜花草树木

I'm trying to get the meaning of the following expression: 爱惜花草树木. A Chinese friend told me that it's something like "It's so corny", but I'm having a hard time finding an explanation online. I've ...
4
votes
3answers
345 views

Why does 拉倒 mean “forget about it”?

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 ...
3
votes
5answers
142 views

Meaning of 他急红了眼?

I've heard that expression while I was in Beijing, and I can't find the translation when I scroll the Internet. Do you know what it means?
3
votes
5answers
256 views

Variants of 将在外,君命有所不受?

There seems to be multiple versions of this idiom, with slightly different characters: Baidu: 将在外,君命有所不受 汉典: 将在军,君命有所不受 And a big bunch of variants: 将在外,军令有所不受 将在外,军令有所不从 将在外,君令有所不受 ...
9
votes
8answers
543 views

How to translate: 人是铁,饭是钢,一顿不吃烦得慌. What is the logic?

人是铁,饭是钢,一顿不吃烦得慌 I can not really figure out to translate this sentence. I guess it basically means that not eating is a bad thing. The first sentences - do they indicate that "iron" and "steel" ...
0
votes
2answers
181 views

“C'est la vie” (such is life) in Chinese

On Wiktionary there are two ways listed for saying "such is life" / "c'est la vie" in Chinese. Both look like literal translations: 這就是生活, 这就是生活 (zhè jiùshì shēnghuó) 生活就是這樣, 生活就是这样 (shēnghuó jiùshì ...
2
votes
2answers
131 views

Correct use of 惹人心烦

I am not sure if I used the idiom 惹人心烦 correctly. This is the sentence I used, 好啊,然而我不要惹人心烦。 Would that be a good use of it or is there a better way of saying you don't want to be a pain in the neck ...
1
vote
2answers
74 views

How would you say 绵延不绝的小山 and 一望无际的田野 in English [closed]

How would you say 绵延不绝的小山 and 一望无际的田野 in English? Continuous mountains, and large and large fields? Thanks!
5
votes
3answers
253 views

冰雪聪明… only for girls?

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
182 views

How you say… I feel good after finally getting closure

I'm looking for an idiom that describes feeling better after getting closure/some explanation/clarity on a certain issue... whether breaking up with significant other and having a final ...
2
votes
3answers
249 views

How to say “as you wish” in Chinese

I want to know what to say in the following scenario: I am pushing someone for his own good, and he is not doing what I want, so I would then say to him "Okay, as you wish." How can I express this in ...
2
votes
1answer
148 views

Something like “turning lemons into lemonade”

Is there a Chinese saying roughly equivalent in meaning to "turning lemons into lemonade"? From Wikipedia, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" is a proverbial phrase used to encourage ...
8
votes
4answers
392 views

Why are 成语 (idioms) four characters long? Are there 成语 with more or less than four characters?

I really enjoying learning 成语 (chéng yǔ) in Chinese, and I'm curious to know why they are often or always four characters long? Where does this tradition stem from? And are there 成语 with more or ...
4
votes
2answers
362 views

How to say “giving someone the benefit of the doubt” in Chinese?

This expression connotes that one is willing to not insist on accusing someone of a mistake despite most evidence pointing to that someone as being responsible. As in a legal proceeding where the jury ...
2
votes
5answers
434 views

What is the 成语 for “face like buddha, heart like scorpion”?

I was watching Raise the Red Lantern (which is an excellent movie by the way) and saw this phrase come up on the subtitles, but wasn't able to catch what the actual Mandarin behind it was. Does anyone ...
2
votes
1answer
217 views

What does 七年之痒 mean?

I looked it up and something about the Seven Year Itch but I'm kind confused. Does it have any deep meaning in Chinese culture?
3
votes
3answers
383 views

Translating the idiom “thinking outside the box”

I normally hate overused catchphrases in English, like "paradigm shift" and "out of the box thinking". But I was recently chatting (in Chinese) with a friend about an earlier situation in which ...
4
votes
1answer
254 views

What is the etymology of 放我一马?

I've heard this a couple times now and most recently in a movie "钢的琴". It's an idiom that means "cut me some slack"; "let me off the hook". I couldn't make sense of the Baidu encyclopedia so I'm ...
3
votes
1answer
79 views

给我站住: Idiom or common meaning

给我站住 I assume this means something like "wait for me!". But I still have a couple of questions. Google translate gives the meaning "Nothing to say" which implies that 给我站住 may be an idiom. If ...
2
votes
2answers
344 views

Are there online resources for learning the Chongqing dialect?

I'd like to learn the Chongqing dialect or chongqinghua. If anyone can help me to find resources like phrasebooks, differences with putonghua, or any article on this topic, I would be thankful.
6
votes
10answers
549 views

What is the Chinese equivalent of English idiom “As if!”?

The English idiom "as if!" is used to express the speakers rejection that something is possible: A: "In a few years I'll be driving a Ferrari." B: "As if you'll ever have a Ferrari!" Here, B, ...
4
votes
5answers
389 views

Are there any online resources for learning Chinese 4-character idioms

I'm interested particularly in the 4-character idioms/chengyu's. Some that I've learnt recently: 独一无二 - unique 由此可见 - this shows that 一般来说 - generally speaking I've realised they come in really ...
10
votes
3answers
252 views

What is the meaning of 当仁不让?

I was browsing the Chinese internet looking for a bank that supports Mac OS when I came across this site. They list a range of different banks under a range of different headings, the first of which ...
3
votes
6answers
174 views

Chinese version of the idiom “The word on the street”

"The word on the street" is an English idiom that basically means "rumors". The word on the street is that Bob's going to be fired. I was wondering if there was a similar Chinese idiom.