I want translate "一语道破" or "一语道破天机" to a phase with an etymology.

tell the truth, blurts out the whole truth,

seem not very good.

  • It's not "blurt out", but "get the exact point" of something. It's pretty close to the phrase: "hit the nail (right) on the head" in English. Perhaps not that exactly, but the underlying connotation is similar.
    – dan
    Oct 30, 2018 at 3:43
  • 'hit the nail on the head' is '一矢中的' in Chinese, meaning 'find exactly the right answer'
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 30, 2018 at 5:32
  • @TangHo, It's a figure of speech. It could be extended more than that. state the truth exactly; find exactly the right answer; and etc.
    – dan
    Oct 30, 2018 at 5:38

2 Answers 2


一语 = in one sentence or one word (imply: 'directly and swiftly')

道破 = pointing out/ expose (speak out and expose something that's hidden)

一语道破 can be described as "directly (and swiftly) pointing out" in English


  • 道破他的詭計 = speak out and expose his trickery

  • 道破他的用心 = pointing out his intention

  • 一语道破他的詭計 = directly (and swiftly) pointing out his trickery

  • 一语道破他的用心 = directly (and swiftly) pointing out his intention

“一语道破天机” is not a proper sentence, because '天机' (heaven's secret/ plan) is not something you can easily find out.

  • 1
    一语道破天机 is a common metaphor, you can't take it literally at all.
    – dan
    Oct 30, 2018 at 3:38
  • 一语道破 and 天机不可洩漏 are both common phrases, but not together
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 30, 2018 at 4:39
  • try to make a little search on 一语道破天机, and you would get lots of examples and explainations.
    – dan
    Oct 30, 2018 at 5:06
  • garbage in, garbage out, Someone mixed up 一语道破 and 天机不可洩漏 , someone else tried to make sense of it , then someone else copied these so call answers and they all became search results
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 30, 2018 at 5:13
  • 1
    I knew 一语道破天机 since I was a little boy. It's actually very common. You could take anything people are saying as garbage if you wish. That's it.
    – dan
    Oct 30, 2018 at 5:21

i would suggest "freudian slip"

if it's fate, destiny related, maybe "oracle slip", or "divine slip"

in which slip referred to the "一語"

have fun :)

  • No, "freudian slip" (an unintentional error regarded as revealing subconscious feelings) it means someone carelessly mention something that should be kept secret. It is called 說漏嘴
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 29, 2018 at 15:06

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