I'm looking at creating a CC-EDICT entry for 话不投机 (huà bù tóu jī). This will need to go through their review process:

All submitted entries will be queued for reviewing by the CC-CEDICT editors team.

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I've never done this before, but I thought I'd give it a try. Here's a start:

Traditional: 話不投機
Simplified: 话不投机
Pinyin: hua4 bu4 tou2 ji1
English: /???/

My best attempt at an English translation is "uncongenial speech", where 不 = "not", 投机 = "congenial", and 话 = "speech".

Question: Does the chengyu 话不投机 mean "uncongenial speech"?

Some online examples (with my partial translations):

Want a period of time of intimate romance, but encountered 话不投机, nicely chatting is the only shortcut

话不投机 is scarier than unrequited love

Married life [has] lots of 话不投机, [be] unwilling to bow down to everything [and] refuse to listen

These all seem consistent with 话不投机 = "uncongenial speech". It's surely also related to the CC-CEDIT entry:

when words get sour, adding words is useless (idiom)

This translation is in Tales of Herding Gods (牧神记). This is consistent with 话不投机 = "uncongenial speech".

Wayne Cheah's comment let me to this Song Dynasty poem which contains the longer version:


CC-EDICT also has an entry for the first part:

a thousand cups of wine is not too much when best friends meet (idiom); when you're with close friends, you can let your hair down

Update: What I currently have in mind now (which seems more accurate):

/unagreeable or unenjoyable talk (idiom)/when words go sour/

It looks like it'd be worth updating 话不投机半句多 to:

/when words go sour, adding words is useless (idiom)/fig. in an unagreeable conversation, half a sentence is too much/

Update: It was added/amended here with major changes:

  • 話不投機半句多 话不投机半句多 [hua4 bu4 tou2 ji1 ban4 ju4 duo1] /when views are irreconcilable, it's a waste of breath to continue discussion (idiom)/
  • 話不投機 话不投机 [hua4 bu4 tou2 ji1] /the conversation is disagreeable (idiom)/
  • not in the same channel
    – Shaw
    Jan 29, 2020 at 3:05
  • 1
    The complete saying is:- 酒 逢 知 己 千 杯 少, 话 不 投 机 半 句 多 When having wine with good friends, a 1000 cups is too little, When having a disagreeable conversation, half a word is too much. Jan 29, 2020 at 4:36
  • 1
    FWIW. It seems that 话 has been turned to a noun when the phrase is translated into english. But from Chinese standpoint, 话 works as a verb. We'd construe 话不投机 as 说话说得不投机.
    – dan
    Jan 29, 2020 at 5:38
  • does't agree with each other. Feb 2, 2020 at 3:32

4 Answers 4


話不投機 means you don't share similar interesting or thoughts to chat with people or people don't like what you talk about, think it is not interesting.

Regardless the sentences of example you give is true or not, I just consider the semantic since I am not psychological professional.

发现话不投机,好好聊天才是捷径 show that people have the property of 话不投机 so on the latter part of sentence it encourage people to 好好聊天.

话不投机比不相爱更可怕 shows that 话不投机 is more horror then 不相爱.

许多话不投机 shows that the couple have a lot of different belief.

话不投机半句多 shows that you feel that 半句 is enough if the chat is 话不投机(you feel 半句 is a large amount since it is undesirable).



话 is a verb 说话(to talk).

不: not.

投机: congenial, agreeable

话不投机: 说话说得不投机,not talk congenially, remarks not appealing to the other side


The Great God Baidu has this to say (the English from me):

话不投机: 话说不到一起。指意见或见解不一致。 Communication failure. Ideas or opinions clash.



CC-CEDICT already has

when words get sour, adding words is useless (idiom)

话不投机 here matches up with “when words get sour.” That's a pretty surefire way to get the editors to approve your definition. (Although the original might need some work).

  • 1
    I'm not sure this is the best translation of 话不投机半句多, it looks like it might need modification. I believe Wayne Cheah's comment contains a better translation.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Jan 29, 2020 at 4:47

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