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I cant understand chinese at all and I found this phrase: 视死如归 which translates to "See death as returning home" but also to "Not afraid of death". I think the second translation comes over as very arrogant.

If you would say or write this to someone, would they take it as so to speak "Death could be a good thing(as you will find rest when you die or something like that)" or "Be tough"? If this is more hanging to the second translation, is there a better chinese sentence that would mean something like the first phrase?

  • bkrs:视死如归 to view death as a return home to not be afraid of dying to face death with equanimity (idiom) 把死看得象回家一样平常。形容不怕牺牲生命 also see jukuu's 11 examples for 视死如归 (face death calmly, with equanimity) – user6065 Feb 16 '17 at 15:48
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Both definitions are correct.

多功能成语词典 explains:

解释 视:看待;归:回家。把死看作像回家一样。形容不怕死。多指为了正义事业而勇于牺牲自己的生命。

视: treat ;归: returning home. to treat death the same as returning home. To describe being fearless in the face of death. Refers mostly to bravely sacrificing oneself for a righteous cause.

They also give an example sentence:

例句 面对敌人的屠刀,革命先烈视死如归,大义凛然。

A, more literal, translation would be something like:

Facing the butchers knives of the enemy, the martyrs to the revolution treated death as returning home, righteousness abounds.

Another translation you can have a look at from A Chinese-English Dictionary:

刘胡兰临刑时, 大义凛然, 视死如归。

Liu Hulan faced the executioner's ax with a fortitude that commanded admiration and respect.

This phrase is mostly seen in connection with martyrdom and warfare.

Some other definitions that might help:

ABC

face death unflinchingly

Oxford

meet one's death like a hero

CC-CEDICT

1 to view death as a return home

2 to not be afraid of dying

3 to face death with equanimity (idiom)

I doubt you'd ever use this phrase to console anybody, even if you did it'd be strange unless they were dying for some big cause or fighting in a war.

There is an antonym: 贪生怕死 which CC-CEDICT defines as:

1 greedy for life, afraid of death (idiom); craven and cowardly

2 clinging abjectly to life

3 only interested in saving one's neck

  • It was more meant as tattoo in my case for the death of a loved one. – Loko Feb 16 '17 at 16:44
  • @Loko I wouldn't say it's arrogant at all. Just "fearless in the face of death" - if you think that fits what you're looking for. – user3306356 Feb 16 '17 at 16:48
  • Yeah anyway, thanks for the answer and explanation. – Loko Feb 16 '17 at 16:48
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The proverb origin from an ancient quote:

《韩非子·外储说左下》:“三军既成阵,使士视死如归,臣不如公子成父。”

Train the army to follow proper formation, make the general deal with death like normal, ChengFu is doing such job better than me

The proverb carry the meaning of

Know the dire consequences but not afraid to face it.

It can be used to describe or emphasize either

  • bravely
  • Bold
  • heroism
  • fanaticism
  • naive stupid act
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视死如归 is more like second translation

if you want use first translation
i suggest use

落叶归根

  • bkrs: 落叶归根 Getting Home, 2007 PRC comedy-drama film directed by 张扬[Zhāng Yáng], starring 赵本山[Zhào Běn shān] luò yè guī gēn lit. a falling leaf returns to the roots (idiom) fig. all things go back to their source eventually in old age, an expatriate returns home – user6065 Feb 19 '17 at 11:11

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