I like this 成语 and brought it up in a conversation, but the person I was speaking with (an expat Chinese) didn't know it. So I would like to know how well-known it is. Would a 10 year old in Beijing be likely to know it, for instance? Or, a primary school teacher, or a 20 year old science student?

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    I would tag this word as "not frequently used". In my region, there are some 10-year-old boy who know this well, but there are also some 20-year-old who have no idea what it means.
    – user13501
    Aug 13, 2016 at 17:30

1 Answer 1


In my mind, most well-educated individuals in China know the meaning of '杯弓蛇影' ,at least they heard about it (even do not fully understand the meaning.)

'杯弓蛇影' appears in our textbook of elementary school.

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    alternate written form 盃弓蛇影 (same pronunciation)
    – user6065
    Aug 13, 2016 at 18:57
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    I learned this idiom from my grade school text book, there's no reason for any Chinese to not know it.
    – Tang Ho
    Aug 14, 2016 at 3:52
  • From this answer and other comments I have learnt that this chengyu is not in common parlance (i.e. not frequently used), but is taught in “elementary/grade” school - as a Brit I would say primary school. I believe many chengyu are more well-known and frequently used. For instance: 爱屋及乌; 半途而废 and 走马看花 - am I right? Maybe this deserves a separate question about the usage frequency of some sample chengyus… Aug 14, 2016 at 14:39
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    @goPlayerJuggler Yeah, as you said, 半途而废 and 走马看花 are more visible in daily life than 杯弓蛇影, especially in the oral expressions .
    – miaoever
    Aug 14, 2016 at 14:54

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