4

It's used to describe an expression so I guess it's close to being shocked or frightened from the context it's used in but I don't really understand why it means that.

So a detailed explanation will be much appreciated.

  • 1
    三魂去了两魂半 is too specific. I've never heard it before. It don't think it is a common phrase. – Tang Ho Sep 15 '18 at 12:23
  • @TangHo, Maybe it's regional. To me, it's common and it's not something I have to think and understand. It's a common figurative speech though. – dan Sep 15 '18 at 23:36
5

The expression is somewhat similar to English scare the living daylights out of somebody, with many variations. A quick Google search shows

  • 三魂[少/去/嚇飛]了二魂
  • 三魂剩下半魂
  • 三魂去二

and other similar constructions.

三魂 refers to the three hun in Chinese philosophy/folk religion or Daoist belief. The three hun make up a person's "essence" (soul, spirit) when they're alive, and go their separate paths after a person passes away:

  • One hun returns to the primordial universe from whence it came;
  • One hun faces judgement for the person's good and bad wordly deeds in hell;
  • One hun resides at a person's burial place or ancestral tablet, and is the hun that is passed on to a person's descendants.

If the three hun are somehow absent from the body when the body is still alive, then the body becomes a walking corpse (行尸走肉), so the expression 三魂去了兩魂半 means almost frightened to death.

4

In order to understand it, you need to know these two phrases: 三魂七魄 and 吓得没了魂儿.

According to Baidu, 三魂七魄:

人的精神分而可以称之为魂魄,其魂有三,一为天魂,二为地魂,三为命魂。其魄有七,一魄天冲,二魄灵慧,三魄为气,四魄为力,五魄中枢,六魄为精,七魄为英。

So, 三魂 and 七魄 are necessary for a live person. If you lose all 三魂, then you would die.

吓得没了魂儿 means one is so frightened that he lost his 魂儿(soul) and die. It's actually a figurative speech. They will not literally lose them and die.

三魂去了两魂半 is a similar phrase to 吓得没了魂儿. You can imagine that “三魂去了两魂半” is about one loses two and a half of 魂 given he only has three. Figuratively, it implies that one almost dies of something frightening or scary.

So, 吓得没了魂儿 == 吓死了; 三魂去了两魂半 == 吓得半死 or 吓得要死.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.