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I tried understanding 苟且偷欢 word by word. However, I don't think 'improperly stealing happiness' is the correct answer, does the word '欢' have slang/idiomatic meanings except joyous or happy?

  • bkrs: 苟且① 只顾眼前,得过且过:苟且偷安。 ② 敷衍了事;马虎:因循苟且 | 他做翻译,一字一句都不敢苟且。 ③ 不正当的<多指男女关系>。perfunctory careless drifting along resigned to one’s fate improper (relations) 欢 happy, pleased, glad; joy; enjoy① 快乐;高兴:欢喜 | 欢乐 | 欢迎 | 欢送 | 欢呼。 ② 喜爱,也指所喜爱的人<多指情人>:欢心 | 新欢。 ③ 〈方〉起劲;活跃:火着得很欢 | 雨越下越欢 | 文娱活动搞得挺欢。(6) [方]∶起劲; 活跃 [with great drive; vigorous]。 如: 你不是跑得挺欢吗? More at bkrs 苟且偷欢 appears analogous to (bkrs) 苟且偷安 苟且偷生 – user6065 Feb 21 '18 at 5:46
  • re "steal" for 偷:"Introduction to Chinese-English translation" p.7: 爷爷忙里偷闲,带全家出去野餐。Dad takes a break from his busy schedule to take the family on a picnic. ..."Dad steals some time ...." On the surface this looks acceptable, .... 偷 does not mean the same as "steal" in this context.偷闲 。。。colloquial expression w/o connotation of "stealing time". Instead "take a break" conveys content much better ... – user6065 Feb 21 '18 at 6:01
  • Perhaps you can elaborate where you saw this phrase. @TangHo pointed out that 偷歡 has another meaning by itself, so the context will help determine its meaning. – droooze Feb 21 '18 at 9:01
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「偷」has a less negative meaning (than stealing) of finding time (to do something), which is the meaning in this context. For example,「偷暇」means to find a (fleeting) moment of leisure.

「苟且」, in this context, is more accurately translated as perfunctory (doing something to attain minimal standards, or doing something with minimal effort), so「苟且偷歡」is to be content with temporary happiness.


EDIT: Since the OP has posted the context of the phrase as

王八妻子与单身雄蛇便苟且偷欢

(My) bastard wife and that sneaky bachelor "苟且偷欢" whenever they can

then Tang Ho's point about illicit relations is the correct interpretation:

(My) bastard wife and that sneaky bachelor jump into bed whenever they can

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The common idiom is 苟且偷生

【名稱】:苟且偷生

【拼音】:gǒu qiě tōu shēng

【注音】:ㄍㄡˇ ㄑ|ㄝˇ ㄊㄡ ㄕㄥ

【釋義】:苟且:得過且過;偷生:苟且地活著。得過且過,勉強活著。

【出處】:《荀子·榮辱》:“今夫偷生淺知之屬,曾比而不知也。”

"苟且偷欢" is not a standard idiom. It replaces '偷生' (barely avoid death/ improbably stay alive) with '偷欢' (secretly coupling)

  • 苟且 as an adverb means "perfunctorily"

  • 苟且偷生 means "disgracefully stay alive"

  • The phrasing of 苟且偷欢 implies 苟且(adv) (perfunctorily) + 偷欢 (v)(secretly coupling) which doesn't make much sense, but 苟且 also mean 'illicit (sexual relations)' 苟且偷欢 would means " illicit coupling"

It is not a common phrase

偷欢 synonyms 偷情

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    I don't think this is right, 苟且偷歡 replaces 苟且偷安, as 歡 rhymes with 安. To look for a meaning extended from the idiom you should look up 苟且偷安 instead. – droooze Feb 21 '18 at 8:48
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    偷欢 has the meaning of 'having an affair' It cannot replace 偷安 ( hold on to temporary safety and comfort) – Tang Ho Feb 21 '18 at 8:53
  • 苟且偷安 苟且偷生 already mentioned in comment #1:bkrs.info/slovo.php?ch=%E8%8B%9F%E4%B8%94%E5%81%B7%E7%94%9F – user6065 Feb 21 '18 at 12:32
  • @user6065 answers in the form of linear comments with small and unformatted text is very difficult to read. Feel free to participate in StackExchange and use it as it's meant to be used - we'll welcome you with open arms. – droooze Feb 21 '18 at 12:43
  • threat to cancel registration? – user6065 Feb 21 '18 at 13:19

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