I stumbled upon 金口难开, and I think it's a 成语. I think it describes people who are pretentious (金口 = gold mouth), which makes it hard for them to speak (难开 = difficult to open).


  1. 家长怎么教宝宝都是金口难开,多半是少做了这些事[src]
  2. 微信聊天,金口难开的女人无非有三个心理,摸准后她对你念念不忘 [src]
  3. 金口难开,绝不会认错的星座! [src]

Question: Is 金口难开 an idiom, and if so what would be a suitable CC-CEDICT definition?

Here's my partial CC-CEDICT definition (which I'm not very confident about):

金口难开 金口難開 [jin1 kou3 nan2 kai1] /lit. a gold mouth is hard to open (idiom)/fig. to be too pretentious for words/

which is modified from a related definition:

羞口難開 羞口难开 [xiu1 kou3 nan2 kai1] /to be too embarrassed for words (idiom)/

PS: CC-CEDICT definitions need to be high-quality (they're used in dictionaries all over the world). The whole dictionary is free to download. Submissions are reviewed prior to modifying the database. They have a specific syntax, e.g.: 中國 中国 [Zhong1 guo2] /China/Middle Kingdom/

  • What is CC-EDICT's scope of words? I didn't get a useful summary of the scope from a glance at their wiki page. Having a look at 中國 in the actual dictionary, for example, showed only one entry ("China"), when strictly speaking "China" is a metaphor and not the literal meaning.
    – dROOOze
    May 7 '20 at 1:37
  • I simply don't know. I know they don't want every conceivable word (e.g., molecule names are likely limitless), but I don't think there's specific rules.
    – Becky 李蓓
    May 7 '20 at 2:10
  • 1
    Guys it's CC-CEDICT, I've edited the post and renamed the tag now.
    – Mou某
    May 7 '20 at 22:06
  • Huh. I didn't notice the C.
    – Becky 李蓓
    May 7 '20 at 23:04
  • I’m assuming it stands for “Creative Commons-Chinese English Dictionary”
    – Mou某
    May 8 '20 at 9:55


..... 後來,便有了「金口難開」這個成語,表示:嘴巴像金子一樣珍貴,不輕易張口用來說話;形容一個人沉默寡言、不愛說話。

Base on the story, 金口難開 originally describe "someone value his own words like gold, do not open his mouth to speak unless it is necessary" ; Now it is used to describe "someone being reticent; a man of few words"

  • 金口 = golden mouth (valuable speech)

  • 難開 = 難得打開 (rarely open)

  • Oh, it looks like I misinterpreted it!
    – Becky 李蓓
    May 7 '20 at 2:11
  • 1
    難 here is short for 難得 (rarely); not 難以 (hard to)
    – Tang Ho
    May 7 '20 at 2:16

Is it an idiom?


Is 金口难开 a chengyu? No I don't believe that it is. On one side of the coin 金口难开 could be considered a construct; in this case a phrase made-up of two different words: 金口 & 难开. In fact, 金口难开 doesn't really have an entry in any readily available dictionaries. Interestingly enough, though, the expression does show up as an example sentence in Pleco C-E under the entry of 金口:

unable or unwilling to utter a word

Pleco C-E is a regularly updated and maintained dictionary that could easily add this headword if they deemed it to be an actual word in and of itself.

Could a case be made that it is, in fact, a set phrase? Probably?

If this were deemed an idiomatic expression you might have an argument that it belonged in a dictionary.

FT Chinese has written an article with the headline:


Is it in quotes to be ironic or is it because it is a set phrase that means something?

Sohu, similarly, also has an article with a similar headline:


There is a section of the book《金牌营销必备丛书》with the heading:


Overall, it seems like are more sarcastic undertones to this phrasage than is readily implied in its literal meaning. And, if you could prove that, then you'd have a much better case on your hand to argue for its right to have an entry as a headword.

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