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What are some 成语 that mean something like "little dogs always bark the loudest", or "little dogs are mean"?

  • The smallest dogs always bark the loudest – user6065 Apr 17 '17 at 15:00
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In a direct translation, "咬人的狗不叫", but it's not a 成语, it's a slang.

Similar 成语:

虚张声势: pretend to be strong to make others fear.

深藏不露: very talented or strong, but hiding from the others.

不露锋芒: same meaning as above.

韬光养晦: Hide one's capacity and bide one's time(Not sure it's a good match but similar with 深藏不露)

  • @user6065 "空容器发出的声音最大" is a really inauthentic expression. – Kevman Apr 17 '17 at 19:28
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Here's some supplement to Kevman's answer.

色厉内荏:"A bully is always a coward," it literally means that looking tough outside but actually stuffed with straw.

外强中干:"outwardly strong and inwardly weak。"

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Actually, I think the English saying is: All bark and no bite, which is 光说不练

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I recommend "满瓶不动半瓶摇", which means a bottle full of water is quiet when you shake it, while a bottle with a little water makes sound when being shook. Alluding that people with rich knowledges always keep a low profile, while those people with superficial knowledge like showing off.

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I think this is similar but a bit different from "Barking dog never bites". The Chinese phrase 丑人多作怪 would be a good translation

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