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I saw this on Jukuu.com:

我并不否认,你姐姐老是象个暴君似的骑在我们头上
I don't deny that your sister comes the mogul over us, now and then.
Wǒ bìng bù fǒurèn, nǐ jiějiě lǎo shì xiàng gè bàojūn shì de qí zài wǒmen tóu shàng.

It seems an unusual usage of (qí; to ride). Usually, we e.g. 骑马 (qí mǎ; ride a horse) or 骑自行车 (qí zìxíngchē; ride a bicycle), but in the above example, someone "rides on our heads" or "rides above our heads". It sounds metaphorical.

Question: What does 骑在 someone's 头上 mean?

I found other examples:

天津:江苏骑在我们头上打。 (link)
Tiānjīn: Jiāngsū qí zài wǒmen tóu shàng dǎ.

小羊骑在你头上打一字。 (link)
Xiǎoyáng qí zài nǐ tóu shàng dǎ yī zì.

骑在你头上真好玩。 (link)
Qí zài nǐ tóu shàng zhēn hǎowán.

I also found this (我老公喜欢让我骑在他头上...) which sounds literal and sexual (among other examples).

  • bkrs:骑在头上 ride roughshod over; ride on the backs of; lord it over: 骑在头上拉屎拉尿 ride on the back of the people and piss and shit on (them) 骑在头上作威作福 ride roughshod on the back of – user6065 Nov 21 '17 at 5:50
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骑在 xxx 头上 has both literal meaning and figurative meaning. the literal is 'rides on xxx's heads'. The figurative is 'to bully xxx'.

你姐姐老是象个暴君似的骑在我们头上 // your sister always bullies us like a 暴君

我老公喜欢让我骑在他头上 // the literal meaning is used: rides on her husband's shoulder.

小羊骑在你头上打一字 // still literal meaning; the whole sentence is a riddle

骑在你头上真好玩 // more likely literal, but it's possible figurative.

Wrap it up. You have to determine in a given context if its literal or figurative meaning is used.

  • Hi dan, thanks for this answer. Is this expression (the figurative meaning) common enough to be used in daily colloquial conversation? – Philipp Nov 21 '17 at 7:26
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    @Philipp, Very common, and there is a stronger one, 骑在头上拉屎, I am not kidding , you can google it yourself. – Jacob Nov 21 '17 at 7:57
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    @Philipp, yes, it's common. – dan Nov 21 '17 at 8:19
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The figurative meaning of 骑在~头上 (ride on top of someone) is not 'to bully ~' , It is 'to dominate/ to rule over' For example: "Mr.A graduated one year before you(have been your senior schoolmate for all your college life); entered the same company one year before you and has always been your boss." -- You can say Mr.A 一直骑在你的头上 (always ride on top of you) meaning he's always been your boss or having authority over you.

If one day, you got promoted to higher position than Mr.A, then you are in fact 反过来骑在他头上 ( turn around and ride on top of him)

One more example: "他一直被妻子骑在头上" (he has been ridden on top by his wife) meaning his wife is the head on the household over him.

As long as she always at the top of the family, no matter how well she treats him, the fact that she's riding on top of him remains.

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"骑" itself means ride; the word has a "马" (horse) on the left, indicating that the transportation before was horses. So usually the words following after are animals or other modern transportation(basically with your legs on the two sides) such as 骑摩托车(motorcycle)、骑自行车(bicycle)、骑马(horse).

"骑在X头上" on the other hand has developed into a metaphorical meaning. "Riding above me" means "rule over me". It's shows that a person is in a higher position(that's why it's head not back) than the others. So "你姐姐老是象个暴君似的骑在我们头上" is saying that whatever your sister requests, others have to do.

Another expression "我老公喜欢让我骑在他头上" you could say it's a recreation. It means the husband lets his wife to be on top when they're having sex.

Be careful, though, "我老公骑在我头上" simply means the wife does whatever her husband says, without any sexual meaning, for there are no "let me".

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