4

except for their other uses, such as 霹雳舞(breakdance) and their respective 成语, are they considered synonyms? they're both translated as

霹雳: thunderbolt

雷霆: thunderbolt

空中雷霆一响,就把孩子吓哭了 = The thunderbolt came from the sky, and frightened the child into crying.

我听到了一声霹雳,随后天空突然开始下起了雨 = I heard a clap of thunder, and then it suddenly began to rain

  • When as children, mothers used to caution their kids not to tell lies, otherwise the 雷, ("lei") would 霹 ("pi") you. 霹 means to break something violently, and so to the ancients this is more the work of a bolt of lightning, (which is visible), rather than a thunderous but unseen sound from a 雷. – Wayne Cheah Jul 22 at 4:46
3

According to 汉典:

霹雳 (pīlì) mainly means thunderbolt as the atmospherical phenomenon.

又急又响的雷,是云与地面之间发生的强烈雷电现象

sudden and loud thunder, it's the strong lightning bolt occurring between the clouds and earth

雷霆 (léitíng) mainly means thunderclap, as the booming sound of the thunderbolt, and it's also used figuratively. In English that would be thunderous.

洪大而急发的雷声

booming and sudden thunder clap

比喻声威或怒气

describes metaphorically prestige or rage (thunderous, roaring)


In your examples, the two words look similar because of context:

空中雷霆一响

Here it's definitely thunderclap, reinforced by the presence of 响, denoting a sound. (The usage of “一 yī” follows the "一 (yī) ~ 就 (jiù)" structure, events in quick sequence). "A thunderclap from the sky, ...".

Translating as "The thunderbolt" is not wrong, but that seems poetic license on the translator's part, which is fine, since the sentence can't be nicely translated word-for-word.

我听到了一声霹雳

Here 霹雳 is preceded by 一声, which works as a classifier / measure word, and results in "one sound of thunderbolt". Therefore "I heard a clap of thunder."

| improve this answer | |
  • "空中雷霆一响,就把孩子吓哭了". 响 in 一响 here is not a measure word. 一响 here set up a sequence. It's more like "once", "when", "after", etc. The sentence roughly means "Hearing the thunder, the boy was frightened to cry." – dan Jul 7 at 11:22
  • Compare to: 铃声一响,同学们马上就进教室了。 – dan Jul 7 at 11:23
  • @dan Your analysis is correct, as a matter of fact I did not say that 一响 is a measure word... – blackgreen Jul 7 at 11:27
  • ok, this part makes me think you might take it as a measure word "Here it's definitely thunderclap, reinforced by 一响. "A thunderclap from the sky"" – dan Jul 7 at 11:41
  • @dan thanks for bringing that up, edited for clarity – blackgreen Jul 7 at 11:56
2

As a noun, both 霹靂 and 雷霆 can be translated as "thunderbolt"

To find the difference between them, we can look into the idioms associate with the two terms:

  • 雷霆萬均(之勢) = Thunderous (momentum)

  • 大發雷霆 = Raging furiously; thunderous rage

  • 晴天霹靂 = Thunder from a clear sunny sky

From the idioms above, it seems like:

  • 霹靂 is mainly used as a noun for 'thunderbolt' or 'sound of a thunderclap'

  • 雷霆 is mainly used in a metaphorical sense. As an adjective for "thunderous" e.g. 雷霆一擊 (a thunderous strike)

| improve this answer | |
0

我听到了一声霹雳,随后天空突然开始下起了雨

To me, this sentence is a bit off, because 霹雳 is usually a vision of lightening. I will probably put: 一道霹雳,随后天空突然开始下起了雨。 or 就见一道霹雳,随后天空突然开始下起了雨。

空中雷霆一响,就把孩子吓哭了。

This sentence makes a lot of sense.

So, the difference: 雷霆 is more of sounding and 霹雳 is more of vision.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.