ABC Chinese–English Comprehensive Dictionary (2003), p 628. I can't access the "slightly revised through July 2005" ed. 莫非 - Wiktionary appears correct.

enter image description here

  1. Am I correct that here means 3 below?
  1. none; nothing; not anything

  2. (literary or dialectal Mandarin, dialectal Cantonese, Gan, Hakka, Min Dong) do not; don't; must not

  3. particle indicating a rhetorical question

  4. A surname​.

  1. I don't know which meaning fits ?
  1. not be; is not; not
  2. (logic) NOT
  3. wrong; incorrect
  4. to reproach; to blame
  5. (colloquial) Used to insist on something. to have got to; to simply must
  1. Still I don't understand how these two characters compound to signify "can it be that"? We're combining merely two characters that signify negation.

  2. Don't we need more characters to signify the modal verb 'can', eg "possibility in either a dynamic, deontic, or epistemic sense"? Something feels missing!

  • 2
    Haha, good question! Maybe 2 negatives make a (possible) positive?? -(-1) = +1??
    – Pedroski
    Aug 28, 2020 at 23:30
  • @Pedroski 雙重否定句,用兩個否定的詞句表示一個肯定的句子。e.g. 在場的人“無不”贊同此一提案。 他說的“不無”幾分道理。 他的經驗“無非”是讓年輕人得到對未來的啟發。 Aug 29, 2020 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


Both 莫 and 非 denote the sense of not. The combination 莫非(a double negative) is a set phrase to mean 难道. It's often used to initiate a rhetorical question.

E. g. 莫非你不知道? / 难道你不知道? // Don't you know it?


watch anime?

莫非 -> "MA SA KA"(まさか)in Japanese...

Hope this will give you both the meaning and context for your understanding.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.