The idiom stands for constantly strive for improvement.

When I look at 精益求精, I read

Excellence increase seek excellence

But shouldn't it be

Excellence increase seek more excellence

Of course if you added 曾加 then it no longer be four characters long.

Is it a topic comment sentence: As far as excellence goes, it is improvement that seeks it (excellence itself). (?)

Can someone please better explain the arrangement XY求X?

Are there other 成语 of this form?


  • cf。"汉语熟语小词典"[精益求精]在好的基础上追求更好(精:完美。益:更加)。例:这位教授对工作总是精益求精,学生们都很佩服他。 jukuu: 益求: 9 example sentences, 7 containing abbreviation 益求精 only: endless perfection,everything until it's perfect, 1 with 善 instead of 精: 4. Good is good, but better carries it. 精益求精,善益求善。
    – user6065
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 10:23
  • 成语 with 求 as 3rd 字 imm. comes to mind:实事求事,实事求是 (s。dictionaries), for more 成语 with 求 as 3rd 字 s.e.g.包含-"求"-字的成语 wenku.baidu.com/view/e3fe4729bd64783e09122b59
    – user6065
    Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 2:35

3 Answers 3



[4] [adj] skilled; versed; proficient



[1] [v] increase; add to; augment [2] in a higher degree; to a greater extent; more



[2] seek


精益求精 http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/words/7244/

(idiom) to constantly improve oneself

Can someone please better explain the arrangement XY求X?

It is an idiom, not a sentence. Idioms do not have to follow normal grammar rules. You just have to look at each character within an idiom to construct a coherent meaning in your mind. In the case of 精益求精, it offers:

精 "proficient" (adj)

益 "in a higher degree" (adverb phrase) + 求 "seek" (V)

精 "proficient" (adj)

(and it does not constitute a sentence. )

"proficient in a higher degree seeking proficient"


You have to decode the meaning with logical deduction and get:

"(someone already) proficient (still) seeking proficiency in a higher degree"

But most of the time, it is best to learn the story of the idiom and memorize the meaning behind it.

  • That explains it. Someone already proficient seeking more proficiency. Thanks. Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 12:50


Try this link:


精:完美; jing: perfect

益:更加; yi: even more

求:追求。 qiu: seek, want, desire

事物已经非常出色了, Something already outstanding

却还要追求更加完美, but still want even more perfect

好了还求更好。 good still want better.

Trying to improve on perfection

Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. ~Vince Lombardi Striving to better, oft we mar what's well. ~William Shakespeare, King Lear


Be the best of the best is essentially what it means. Let's say you have a huge cock and it's the biggest in your family. Eventually, somebody will get a bigger cock than you, if you don't kept feeding it healthy diets everyday. Thus this 成语 also has a meaning of teaching people not to be arrogant when you are the best and kept getting harder work done everyday. For the above example, maybe feeding your cock a health diet is not enough because your family and your neighbors can do the same, so you may need to give your chicken more such as protein shake, meat and even medicine.

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