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I understand translations below on "寧吃開眉粥,不吃愁眉飯". I know 粥 means congee and 飯 rice or meal. I tried look up 愁眉 - Wiktionary but meaning doesn't sense.

  1. knitted brows

宁食开眉粥 不食愁眉饭什么意思_百度知道

liumengdie17 2011-11-12

就是说。宁可物质上一般,但是生活心态开心,而不要为了更高的物质。把自己搞的很累。最后就是人在天堂,钱在银行

「寧吃開眉粥,不吃愁買飯」的大意 | Yahoo Answers

旺來Lv 5
1 decade ago

~比喻寧願心情開朗的過窮日子,不願過充滿煩惱的富裕生活。強調精神生活的重要性。例如:王先生說對我說:「現在的工作雖然薪水少了點,但是我做得心安理得,人家說『寧吃開眉粥,不吃愁眉飯』,以前那種事,我再也不做了。

What is "宁喝开眉粥 莫吃秋眉饭” Is it idiom and what is its meaning? | HiNative

“宁喝开眉粥,不吃愁眉饭”是一句谚语,意为宁可开心愉快地喝稀饭,也不要伤心愤怒地吃大餐。这句谚语告诉人们,快乐是人生的必需品,人要学会经营快乐。the most important thing is happy

  • Hint: 粥 (congee) is watered-down rice, a metaphor of poverty. The phrase pairs happiness (or rather 開眉, non-frowns) with poverty and a frown face (knitted brows) with a materially fuller life (飯, non-watered-down rice). – dROOOze Jul 22 at 15:22
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開眉 implies 眉開眼笑 (happy expression)

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愁眉 implies 愁眉苦臉 (sad expression)

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One cup of raw rice can only make two bowls of cooked rice (飯)

One cup of raw rice can make up to eight bowls of congee (粥)

粥 is watered-down 飯

Poor families often only have enough raw rice to make congee for every member to have a full bowl of staple food

"寧吃開眉粥,不吃愁眉飯" literally means "rather eat congee with a smiling face than eat cooked rice with a frowning face". It is a metaphor for "Better live a poor but happy life than a rich but unhappy one"

(diminish the importance of material wealth)

You can use this expression to describe a situation like someone rather take a low paying job than earning money with immoral acts

Side note:

Cantonese expression: 有粥食粥,有飯食飯 = through thick and thin

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  • 1
    Sounds like the opposite of the infamous quote "宁坐宝马车里哭,不坐自行车上笑" 😆 – Lionel Rowe Jul 22 at 17:11
  • I'd rather 宁坐自行车上笑 ,不坐宝马车里哭. – Tang Ho Jul 22 at 17:18
  • There are bicycle costs as much as a car – Tang Ho Jul 22 at 17:23
  • @Tang Ho. So your graphic design talent is put to good use here. :-) BTW, in my view there is a subtle difference between 有粥食粥,有飯食飯 and 寧吃開眉粥,不吃愁眉飯. The former means one has no choice but be poor and had to make the best of eating 粥 only; whereas the latter implies that given a choice of being poor but happy or rich but sad, the former is chosen. – Wayne Cheah Jul 23 at 4:23
  • 有粥食粥,有飯食飯 and 寧吃開眉粥,不吃愁眉飯 are two different expressions – Tang Ho Jul 23 at 4:37
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To put it simply, The rice is more resistant to hunger than congee. In Cantonese, "eating rice or congee" is often used to describe the outcome of a thing. "开眉" means "happy" and "愁眉" means "unhappy". So this sentence can be interpreted as: Do you want to be happy to do what you want to do, or unhappy to do what you don't want to do?

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