I had the phrase '巧夺天工‘ in my text, so I 百度 it. 百度 explains it thus:

专指人工的精巧胜过天然制成,形容技艺十分高超。, which is clear.

However, they say '巧夺天工‘ comes from

古代成语,“微妙在智,触类而长,玄通阴了,巧夺造化。” and that is more difficult for me to follow.

Subtle wisdom, ????, ????, timely seize good fortune.

Could you fill in the ???? please?

EDIT: When a problem seems intractable, rearrange the problem. This 古代成语 is very cryptic and not easily amenable to translation. Could you tell me please, if my conversion of it to a more modern Chinese captures the meaning of the 古代成语?

  1. 微妙在智(的人),2. 触类而长,3. 玄通阴了,4. 巧夺造化


  1. 通过研究一件事情,演绎出类似事情的工作方法,

  2. 从而了解大自然的神秘运作,

  3. 然后巧妙地控制自然(造化)。

2 Answers 2




Master the knowledge and regular patterns about one particular class of things, and then increase the knowledge about the same class of things.

Words whose meaning is similar:触类旁通, 举一反三, 问牛知马, 闻一知十

According 晋·郭璞《葬书》考及白话解, 玄通阴了 seems to be a typo, should be 玄通阴阳.


And 玄通




So 玄通阴阳 should mean connected, interlinked with the nature, i.e. grasp the laws of nature.

  • Thanks for trying. That kind of thing shows me how far I have to go before I have a good grasp of Chinese! btw, and don't be offended, 'knowledge' has no plural
    – Pedroski
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 4:04
  • @Pedroski Thanks for pointing that. Anyway, this is a good question, making me think, research and learn a lot as last. Glad if helps!
    – user4072
    Commented Aug 27, 2015 at 4:18

I think a Chinese-English dictionary will be helpful to you

In 汉英词典(第3版), it explains 巧夺天工 as "wonderful workmanship (or superb craftsmanship) excelling nature ".

It also explains 阴阳 as “1.【哲】 (in Chinese thought) yin and yang (the two opposing principles in nature, the former feminine and negative, the latter masculine and positive) 2. ancient Chinese astronomy (esp. the study of the movements of the celestial bodies)”

Anyway, I'd like to point out that many Chinese idioms are derived from allusions or some words in classical Chinese literature, so a specific dictionary will help you when dealing with Chinese idioms.

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.