Is there a Chinese (Mandarin or Classical Chinese) proverb equivalent to the American proverb "the squeaky wheel gets the grease"?

I looked it up in the Cambridge English-Traditional Chinese dictionary, and it says:


That's a direct translation of the proverb. I'm wondering if there are any equivalent proverbs of Chinese origin.


3 Answers 3


ABC Dictionary of Chinese Proverbs

Lit Babies [who] cry [at] night get more milk.
Fig Those who speak out or complain get more help. "The squeaky wheel gets the oil."

The Wikipedia page for The squeaky wheel gets the grease also mentions:

Cultural differences

Similarly, one of the Chinese proverbs goes "会哭的孩子有奶吃", which means "The crying baby gets the milk"


My understanding of "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" is "If you don't complain, your situation will not change for the better".

In this sense, you can say 「不平則鳴」(express your opinion when unfairness occur) is similar to it.

Another answer found here is「愛哭的孩子有糖吃」 seems like an direct translation of a similar English expression "It is cry babies who get candies". Not much different from 「嘎吱響的輪子先上油」(The squeaky wheel gets the grease) in sentiment.

Generally, traditional Chinese people are more reserved, less likely to complain loudly compare to Western thinking people. That's why ideas like "The squeaky wheel gets the grease" or "It is cry babies who get candies" were kind of foreign to us.

We agree with the expression 「先打出頭鳥」(the bird that sticks its head out gets shot first) more. Japanese also have a similar expression "出る釘は打たれる" (the nail that sticks out gets hammered).

  • Indeed; this exact example of the difference between American vs Japanese proverbs is often used in discussions of intercultural communcation. See e.g. Culture Crossing.
    – Michaelyus
    May 15, 2019 at 9:39

submit e.g. "squeaky wheel grease" to iciba:http://www.iciba.com/squeaky%20wheel%20%20%20grease 1.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

会叫的孩子有糖吃. more at iciba ("classical" in doubt)


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.