Is there any word or short phrase in Chinese that expresses the concept of 'presumptuous' as in 'arrogantly making assumptions about the beliefs or preferences of another person without regard to the possibility of being wrong'.

If you can provide any written examples, even if it is a full paragraph, of authentic articles or literature which uses the concept, it would be most welcome.

The idea I'd like to translate is: "If I was only allowed to use one word to describe my experience with Chinese, I'm afraid it would have to be 'presumptuous'. I've encountered so many Chinese people who not only assume anyone with white skin automatically would like to have a conversation with them in English, but also that the conversation partner won't mind the conversation being one-sided. Whenever I've been in such a situation, the Chinese English learner tends not only to miss all the important points I wish to express, but also to pretend he did understand them, leaving me no opportunity to clarify. This leaves me feeling very incontent, used, and exhausted by the end. "

I've only provided such a long sample of text to be precise, I'm not looking for a translation of a paragraph, only the means of expressing this one concept. Unless you'd like to translate! Finally please don't make unwarranted assumptions about me or take offense to this question. It's absolutely not meant to insult anyone!

  • "Presumptuousness" in my dictionary reads 专横, 放肆, or 冒昧, but I feel there're subtle differences between them and your idea, because 专横 and 放肆 sound like a serious accusation while 冒昧 is often used in a way to show one's humbleness. I, as a native speaker of Chinese, would express "I don't want to talk with you. Don't be so presumptuous." as "我不想和你说话。不要这样 自以为是。" Though the listener may feel uncomfortable for the phrase, I think it's one proper expression neither too harsh nor too mild.
    – Stan
    Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 9:03
  • 自以为是 is very close to presumptuous. But the situation he describes is similar to a celebrity being mobbed by fans. Are these fans presumptuous? Commented Oct 26, 2014 at 10:26

4 Answers 4


The concept of 'presumptuous' as in 'arrogantly making assumptions about the beliefs or preferences of another person without regard to the possibility of being wrong'.

The words that fit those descriptions would be 自以为是 (literally 'regard oneself as infallible') or 自作主张 (literally 'presumingly assert/decide'). 自以为是 would work perfectly for translating your paragraph. There is also a colloquial word with similar meaning 想当然 (literally 'assume sth. as a matter of course').

If you consider some similar but different concepts, you'll have more word choices. E.g. prejudice (偏见), stereotype (成见), ignorance (无知/愚昧), etc.


If by presumptuous we mean "overstepping social bounds," I have to admit that an ordinary Chinese person does not have such a concept, and dodging presumptuous questions in China is an art. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, one is left with the kind of feeling very similar to being butt raped.

  • 1
    missed your answers, it's been a while...
    – Mou某
    Commented Dec 17, 2016 at 6:13

The general concept can be expressed using 臆, which could be used in words like 臆测, 臆断, 臆想. To express the idea of presumptuousness, you could use the phrases like:

  • 总是臆测他人的想法
  • 对他人有很多臆想

But in the Chinese logic, this is slightly more like stating a fact. If we want some stronger language against them, we are likely to not care directly about how inherently positive or negative someone's way thinking is, but only their positive or negative consequences. So we would express them differently depending on the supposed consequences, for example whether it is bad for you, themselves, a third party, or a combination of them. And many of those terms don't distinguish whether they have actually "presumed" something, or only deliberately acted like that.

Some examples are:

  • 又被代表了 (net slang) for preventing your real opinion to be expressed.
  • 就知道瞎想 for wasting efforts themselves, or disrupting someone else supposed to help them.
  • 自说自话 for leading the conversation in a way you don't care and wasting your time. I think this is the case in your example.
  • 奉承
  • 专横

And as the other answer suggests:

  • 自以为是 for the likelihood of doing something objectively wrong.
  • 有偏见 for treating someone unequally.
  • 有成见 for being ignorant about changes or individual differences.

爱答不理:Indifferent to people, not polite.

出言无状:Speak presumptuous, not polite.

倨傲无理:Arrogant, arrogant

没上没下:No respect for elders

目中无人:No one else in the eyes. Describe arrogance, despise people.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.