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Today I learned from a Chinese friend (a rather literate fellow) that you can use those words to describe books. Apparently:

仙草 = outstanding book, book as if made for Gods

毒草 = very poor or even noxious book

良草 = an okay book

I had trouble verifying this info, though, in any external sources. Can I use them and expect the Chinese to understand me? Have I got the meaning correctly?

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    The meanings are probably OK, but they are not widely used. Do not expect everyone can understand them. – fefe May 5 '18 at 9:03
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    Never heard any of the three terms in description of books – Tang Ho May 5 '18 at 9:09
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    名著(famous book), 巨著(monumental work of literature),經典(literature classic),劣作 (badly written material) are the common descriptions of books – Tang Ho May 5 '18 at 9:33
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    bkrs: 仙草 magic herb 传说中的一种灵异的草。服之可长生不老或起死回生。 毒草 1) poisonous weed 2) harmful speech/writing/etc. 1) 有毒的草。 2) 比喻对人民、对社会有害的言论和作品。 良草 not a word, similar 改良草坪 improved grass – user6065 May 5 '18 at 10:43
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    This site explains it better. lkong.net/forum.php?mod=viewthread&tid=1773048 – dan May 5 '18 at 12:41
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They're not.

The only one that might be understood easily is「毒草」, which sometimes pops up figuratively in modern literature, likely to be tied to a nuance of thought control:

  • 毛澤東 《關於正確處理人民內部矛盾的問題》八: “有錯誤就得批判, 有毒草就得進行鬥爭。”

    On the correct manner of dealing with internal strife among the people, Mao Zedong said: "Errors are to be critiqued, and we must enact struggles against「毒草」".

  • 劉心武 《班主任》: “ 張老師 , 謝惠敏 說我們讀毒草, 這本書能叫毒草嗎?”

    Professor Zhang, Xie Huimin told us that we're reading「毒草」, is this book really a kind of「毒草」?

「毒草」here means a work of literature (or other kind of art) that is harmful to the people or society. The more common antonym to「毒草」in this sense is「香花」rather than「仙草」.

More commonly, however,「仙草」and「毒草」refer to the more obvious sense of mythical/poisonous herbs, respectively.「良草」is not something that pops up as a common phrase at all.


The reason why they're not common is possibly because they are outdated sayings tied to the Mao Communist era on the Mainland. I suggest not to use these kinds of words too much.

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    @MrVocabulary ah, the terms looks like that they've become a bit of net lingo in forums to judge whether books are worth reading, from dan's comment. Most of us who don't browse these forums won't know about this vocab. – droooze May 5 '18 at 13:00
  • That dite doesnt load for me for some reason, but that still seems to be a limited use. – MrVocabulary May 6 '18 at 13:45
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Sometimes you can, just like you can use pot to refer cannabis when you talk to other smokers, you have to make sure the listeners are 网络小说 addict, otherwise they would totally have no idea what you are talking about.

P.S.

I don't read 网络小说, but I know some US TV drama fans call drama 草, looks like all addict call their favorite 草. :)

P.S. Here is a list translated from tieba

仙草:epic

粮草:good

干草:so so,

水草:bad

带毒干草:even bad

毒草:terrible, unreadable

穿肠毒草:Call doctor, need 仙草 to save life

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