What is the meaning and function of "幸" in the following sentence?


3 Answers 3


幸 in this context means to hope for.


My old man is your old man. If you want to boil your old man alive, then I hope that you’ll share a portion of the soup with me.

As far as I can find, the original text says 必欲烹「而」翁 rather than 必欲烹「爾」翁, but the interpretation is the same.

  • What source do you have available that indicates 幸 means "hope" here?
    – Apollyon
    Mar 11, 2019 at 10:37
  • 1
    @Apollyon 幸 doesn't necessarily mean hope - its common meaning that people are familiar with is fortune. However, hope is an extended meaning - consider the translation instead: may I be fortunate enough to receive a portion of the soup, which is another natural translation. Of course, 幸 means hope as one of the meanings given by standard reference dictionaries like 《漢語大詞典》: "12. 希望, 期望。 亦為表示希望之辭。"
    – dROOOze
    Mar 11, 2019 at 10:42
  • What is its part of speech? A verb, adjective, or adverb?
    – Apollyon
    Mar 11, 2019 at 10:49

幸 is hope that. The excerpt is from 《史记》 项羽 threatened 刘邦 that he would boil 刘邦's father alive. But 刘邦 was not afraid of him and said: "吾(my)翁(father)即(is)若(your)翁。(if you)必(must)欲(will,want)烹(boil alive)爾(your)翁,則(conjunction)(I)幸(hope)分(share)我(me)一杯(a bowl of)羹(soup)。

Note: 刘邦 and 项羽 once 拜为兄弟

  • Some sources say it is an adverb: <副>敬词,希望对方照自己的意见做,可译为“希望”。《孔雀东南飞》:“幸可广问讯,不得便相许。”
    – Apollyon
    Mar 11, 2019 at 11:20
  • Moderators: I think this answer is an excellent demonstration of why its good to have Ruby text functionality as in this meta question. It's super-useful, and not just for readings/pinyin.
    – dROOOze
    Mar 11, 2019 at 11:23
  • That is true. Classical Chinese is not strict on part of speech. Mar 11, 2019 at 11:55
  • Here's an example that requires 幸 to be treated as an adverb: 吾子幸觀焉. The source passage indicate 吾子 is not the person bearing the hope. Rather, the intended meaning is that the speaker hoped 吾子 (the addressee) would do something.
    – Apollyon
    Mar 15, 2019 at 2:08

幸 literally means 'feel lucky for' or 'happy for'


My old man is your old man. If you want to boil your old man alive, then I would be happy to share a portion of the soup.

'hope for' is extended meaning of 'happy for' -- When you are happy for something to happen, you are hoping for it to happen

In the idiom: "幸災樂禍" (happy to see other people suffer) both 幸 and 樂 mean 'happy for'; 災禍 means disaster

  • Why down vote? I said 幸 also means 'hope for', just stated the literal meaning of 幸 is 'feel lucky for" or "feel happy for" . Is that wrong?
    – Tang Ho
    Mar 11, 2019 at 10:59
  • I didn't downvote, but I question your interpretation of 若.
    – dROOOze
    Mar 11, 2019 at 11:02
  • Now I see 若 is a typo from the OP's post.
    – Tang Ho
    Mar 11, 2019 at 11:04
  • 《漢語大詞典》「若」: 8. 你(的);你們(的)。 ▶ 《莊子•人間世》: “一若志, 無聽之以耳, 而聽之以心。”
    – dROOOze
    Mar 11, 2019 at 11:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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