What does 虚怀若谷 mean? I'm learning some Chinese idioms and the translation that I was given was long and confusing, especially since my Mandarin isn't good. Can someone help me translate it?


2 Answers 2


虚 = empty

怀 = chest (metaphorically represents the storage place for beliefs and ideas in a man )

若 = like

谷 = valley ( a valley is vast and empty-- metaphor for one's mind not filled with preconceived notions )

虚怀若谷 means: 'one's ability to accept (new idea or different opinion) is as vast as a valley.'

In short, a man who is 虚怀若谷, is a humble and open minded man

  • No, I did not read the linked article. I answer the question base on my own impression and understanding on the phrase. Just fixed some spacing problem and added punctuation marks
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 21:20
  • No idea what you are talking about. I didn't read any comment before I edit this post. I have a habit of reading my own posts after I posted them. When I find some mistakes or area I can improve, I would edit them accordingly. If I have to quote other comments or answers, I would also do so.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 23:37
  • Someone suggested I should edit 虚 = empty to 虚 =modesty. I rejected the suggestion because 虚怀若谷 does mean "empty chest like valley' ; 虚 here isn't a short form of 謙虛
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Sep 19, 2022 at 17:07

谷(valley) is kind of metaphor, someone's mind is very open(like a valley), it can fit a lot of different things Very open minded, can accept all kinds of criticisms or compliments, and can identify their problems and correct them based on the criticisms. Doesn't get complacent with others' compliments. it's also a kind of humble

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