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Judging from what I've read, Chinese culture honors women who are 贤惠 (xiánhuì), e.g. a man would want a 贤惠 wife (this actually arose in my recent question). However, I get the feeling there's not going to be a simple, one-word translation of 贤惠; it seems intertwined with traditional Chinese gender roles.

CC-EDICT says 贤惠 is a variant of 贤慧 (xiánhuì), and writes:

賢惠 贤惠 [xian2 hui4] /variant of 賢慧|贤慧[xian2 hui4]/
賢慧 贤慧 [xian2 hui4] /(of a wife) wise and kind/perfect in her traditional roles/

I'm fairly sure this is a surface-level definition (possibly even inaccurate).

Question: What does it mean for a woman to be 贤惠?

From what I've read online, it seems such a woman is "virtuous" and has "family values" (whatever that means), is loyal and respectful to her husband, and is willing to do housework. Maybe she's shy, modest, and has feminine behavior. It seems mostly unrelated to her physical appearance.

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    Roughly speaking, good wife-material, and very friendly and nice to the in-laws. Susie Homemaker, basically. – Kasey Chang Jul 5 at 2:46
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This might be a good example of how dictionaries, while correct, don't exactly capture everyday usage.

贤惠 is a very common everyday word, used when someone is:

  • good a cooking

  • good at cleaning up

  • good at taking care of chores

Usually it is used for women, married or not, but it can even be sarcastically used with men. If a guy cooks up a nice meal you can laughingly say something like: “好贤惠哦”.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. I deleted the previous comments but they can all be found in the chat link here. – Mo. Jul 4 at 10:52
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贤 = worthy; virtuous; capable; talented

惠 = gracious; gentle; fair; kind; benevolent

慧 = intelligent; wise

淑 = virtuous; refined; noble

  • 贤惠 = virtuous and gracious

  • 贤慧 = virtuous and wise

  • 贤淑 = virtuous and refined

Besides being virtuous, people also want their wives to be gracious, wise, or refined.

The idea is: if a woman is virtuous, she would never have an affair; if she is also gracious, wise or refined, she would never disobey or argue with her husband

  • When we say 贤妻良母, 贤 can refer to all three

  • 贤內助 refers to "virtuous and capable wife"

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In Taiwan, 賢慧 according to dictionary owned by Ministry of Education.

賢慧 means:

形容女子善良且深明大義。

(Describes females who are kind and can understand and deal with whole situations.)

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