When I was very small, my grandparents mentioned there are regional variations of the phrase 柴米油盐酱醋茶 which is widely known to the local population (instead of made up by nobody and only used by a small circle). The first 4 things are still 柴米油盐 while the last 3 things are partially or completely different to reflect the local customs. Then they brought up an example but I forgot the characters long time ago.

Now I search online, I couldn't find any evidence showing such variation exists. Does anyone know if there really are common variations of the phrase, and what they are?


In Short

Variant One


Pinyin : chai2 mi3 you2 yan2

Variant Two


Pinyin : guo1 wan3 piao3 pen2

Literally : wok, bowl, ladle and tub


In my area, sometimes we just say it that way.

As a Chinese, I don't quite feel like to go that deep into the source behind, nor did I really care about there're some three other characters hacked off.

But now, if you wanna me to say something about it, yes I can.

Four-character phrases, idiom or not, are pretty popular my area, pretty popular all over China too.

In China, people talk faster than foreigners thought, so seven character version is not so effective, it's like a poem. Four character one is welcome, and because we have hundreds of, or maybe thousands of, never count it, informal/formal four-character catch phrases.

For those who utter out this phrase, probably they don't care about literature, that's what used to be the paraphernalia of notable men.

鍋碗瓢盆 are the everyday kitchen utensils, so they match the flavors, seamless.



Pinyin : you2 yan2 jiang4 chi3 jiang1 jiao1 cha2

Literally : oil, salt, sauce, fermented soybeans, ginger, pepper, and tea

參見此處,來源於「湖海新聞夷堅續志」(元代 無名氏著),其影印本見此處 (See here, the source (whose scan can be found here)「湖海新聞夷堅續志」is a collection of mysterious stories, whose author is unknown but believed to be someone living in Yuan Dynasty.)

  • Hi congliu. When providing unfamiliar translations/idioms as such, can you provide the source, pinyin, and explanation behind why this is an appropriate variation? Thank you.
    – user3871
    Aug 19 '13 at 12:19
  • Thanks for the answer. I am aware of the 4-character version 柴米油盐. I am particularly interested in variations of the 7-character version, do you know if there is one? As of 锅碗瓢盆, it may be equally important for daily life but it's not really a variation of 柴米油盐. I would prefer to say they compliment each other.
    – NS.X.
    Aug 20 '13 at 1:33
  • @NS.X. check out the update above
    – George
    Aug 21 '13 at 16:36

as a person from China, I personally confirm this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_necessities

  • Welcome to SE Allen. Elaborating on your answer will attract more +1 votes and then you can earn more reputation on this site :D If what you want to say has been already included in others' answer, just give them a +1 vote, they will like it.
    – Stan
    Sep 21 '13 at 9:20
  • The OP is asking about variations on the 7 necessities, not the usual form. Sep 21 '13 at 22:28
  • As a member of stackoverflow, I know to vote up and comment. But I have no permission to do such a thing here. Sep 24 '13 at 17:18

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