2

Does anyone knows how 万一 became a phrase with "just in case" meaning? Is it a shorthand of a longer phrase or chengyu?

  • It may help to consider that English has similar numerical/probability phrases: "in the thousand-to-one chance that ..."; "in the off-chance that ..." – Seralt Feb 11 '16 at 4:24
3

http://baike.baidu.com/subview/199191/8163691.htm gives a plausible answer: it refers to a remote possibility of a thing X happening. Sort of "among the ten thousand and one things that could happen, one is X." Far back in ancient and classical Chinese, the ten thousand things are a proverbial way to express all that happens in this world. But I did not find sources giving any specific classical source for 万一 meaning "just in case."

  • 1
    looks like true. "In case (most unprobable) you die." 万一你死. – coobit Feb 4 '16 at 17:18
  • 2
    A further support for the answer would be the saying 不怕一萬,祇怕萬一 The ten thousand (regular scenarios) don't bother me; I only worry about the one in ten thousand (unlikely scenario). – monalisa Feb 4 '16 at 21:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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