In this post, Juckele mention two terms completely new to me : 回去回来 and 回来回去.

I know

来来回回 Things keep going in circle, usually use to describe situation in life
来来去去 Same as above

But what about 回去回来 and 回来回去?

  • I couldn't find either in a dictionary, although I did find a lot of other really interesting chengyu. My friend who told me that one of those was an idiom is a poor Mandarin speaker and certainly seemed uncertain about it herself. I suspect she might have been thinking of 来回来去 or 转来转去.
    – juckele
    Dec 28, 2012 at 4:36
  • Maybe others can give some insight. I can speak Mandarin, but my mother tongue is Cantonese. I am thinking maybe 回去回来 is idiom from Northern part of China, that's why the question. PS: 转来转去 as in lost in subway? @.@
    – John Siu
    Dec 28, 2012 at 4:42

4 Answers 4


Personally I have never heard of 回去回来 or 回来回去, and they are highly unlikely to be idioms in any part of China.

We do say 来回来去 in Northern China, not sure about Southern China. It means 'back and forth; repeatedly'. E.g.

  • 他自从丢了钱包,就来回来去的说。He was complaining over and over again since he lost his wallet.

  • 整首歌来回来去就一句词。The entire lyrics are just one sentence going back and forth.


回去回来 and 回来回去 are not chengyu. The majority of the Chinese people will not say this word.In accordance with the habits are 来来回回 or 来来去去

  • Is it slang(俚語) of certain area of China?
    – John Siu
    Dec 28, 2012 at 5:17
  • no,The fact that China does not have the word“回去回来” and“回来回去”,only have "回来" 、“回去”,when people want to express this meaning ,they will say "来来回回" or “来来去去” Dec 28, 2012 at 5:40

回去 means to go back, 回来 means to come back. 回来回去 or 回去回来 are not proper terms, but can be understood as expressing a back and forth activity. Normally when used as verbs 回去 and 回来 are separated by a comma, but there are some people who combine them improperly as an adjective to imply something that attracts repeated visits, such as "回来回去的个人空间".

Contrary to what you mentioned, 来来回回 and 来来去去 are not the same. From 在线新华字典,

来回 means:

  • 含有以相反方向交替出动的活动 〖back and forth; to-and-fro; backwards and forwards〗∶
  • 往往在返回时走同一路线的旅行 〖make a round trip〗∶

So 来来回回 can be taken to mean repeated back and forth activities or making repeated round trips. Example:

That man has been pacing back and forth in front of the display window, he seems interested in one of the jewellery on display.

来来去去 means:

  • 来和去。指往来不断的样子

来去 has the meaning of come and go, so the literal translation for 来来去去 is to come and go continuously. Example:

Business is bad today, many people come and go, but nobody bought anything.

  • Thank for clarification 来来去去, 1+
    – John Siu
    Dec 28, 2012 at 14:45

Scene 1(场景一):


A friend came to my house, the sky dark, he said: I want to go back

Scene 2(场景二):


Night I phoned my girlfriend: What time do you come back?

Scene 3(场景三):

Night ,in the bus,怎么来来回回还是我们这几个人?

Sene 4(场景四):

In Taishan,诗人感概到,来来去去繁华诶梦会无忒

  • 1
    How come your scene getting more and more lazy? Scene 3 and 4 missing translation, scene 4 missing letter and punctuation -.-
    – John Siu
    Dec 30, 2012 at 2:36

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