I saw this phrase recently in a post online. The whole sentence is 人生得一知己足矣. I think 人生得一知己 means "getting a BFF(?) in one's life". (The only meaning of the word 知己 that I know of is BFF, but please correct me if I am wrong!) What does 足矣 mean? Is it a phrase or is it two separate words that just happened to be together in this example?

By the way, is this a phrase used in classical Chinese? The sentence structure looks different from modern Chinese.

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    see iciba's entry for 足矣,there find sample sentences and explanation from baidu , 矣 a function word expressing perfect tense; (used in old times) an interjection
    – user6065
    Apr 10, 2015 at 20:44
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    "Getting one 知己 in one's life has already been enough." 知己 not necessarily a BFF, but must be a friend who can deeply understand you.
    – Stan
    Apr 10, 2015 at 20:48
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    you'll also see 足已矣 - I think the 已 is just an intensifier, but also classical. 知己 is "heavier" than BFF, LOL. The entire quote is Classical Chinese, or at least straddles the (nebulous) boundary... think of it as classical version of 就够了 Apr 10, 2015 at 23:44
  • @MasterSparkles your translation to modern Chinese makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks! and please ignore the BFF translation... Apr 10, 2015 at 23:53
  • of course - just teasing :) Apr 11, 2015 at 0:04

3 Answers 3


足矣 means (lucky) enough.

So the whole sentence means:

knowing a person who understand you (soul mate? I think) in one's life is enough.

Implicit meaning: many people won't have even one soul mate all his/her life. When you have one, you are lucky enough. So please appreciate it and don't ask for more.

  • Ah that's right! Soul mate is probably the word. Thanks for sharing! Apr 10, 2015 at 23:37

How about '在世界上有一个好朋友够了‘? Although it seems 知己 does not exactly match 好朋友

The sentence is actually 人生得一知己足矣,斯世,当同怀视之

Got this from 百度:

The phrase was written by 鲁迅 for 瞿秋白。Its meaning is:


So 知己 = 一个充分理解自己的真朋友


知己 means friends who understand each other well, have a deep bond, and maintain a close relationship. 足 means enough. (足够) 矣 is a classical final particle, and it is like a exclamation mark a little bit.

Translation: In life, having one confidant is sufficient!

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