When I first happened upon 毋乃, I first guessed its meaning as "not this". Then I consulted p 1007, ABC Chinese–English Comprehensive Dictionary (2003). I can't access the "slightly revised through July 2005" ed.

2wúnǎi 毋乃 F.E. <wr.> Is it not ... ?

  1. So why was my first guess wrong? Why doesn't 毋乃 mean "not this"?

  2. How does 毋乃 compound to mean "Is it not ... ?"

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  • You are almost correct. 毋乃is used in a negative interrogative sentence. So, instead of "not this", it is "Is it not this?". – joehua Sep 2 at 2:13
  • @joehua Thanks. Don't hesitate to expound your comment in an answer? – NNOX Apps Sep 2 at 2:39

use a proper and authoritative dictionary, please.

in 國語辭典, maintained by ministry of education, taiwan 🇹🇼; “毋乃” is explained as:



and, the quoted source translated “毋乃” as “it is none other than” is, incorrect.

Why doesn't 毋乃 mean "not this"?

misleaded by entry level dictionary. think about “hot dog”, or “greenhouse”:

separately, “green” is a colour, and “house” is a building. so, if one naively guess that “greenhouse” is a building in green colour, it’s . . . 🙀

have fun :)

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  • Sorry! I can't read (much) Chinese, so that's why I've been using Wiktionary. I'll seek better sources. – NNOX Apps Aug 30 at 2:47
  • @水巷孑蠻:Apropros "greenhouse", in the doghouse does not always mean one is in a kennel! – Pedroski Aug 30 at 7:02
  • Thanks. I edited my question. Does it change your answer? I'm uncertain if you answered question 1. – NNOX Apps Aug 31 at 6:12
  • 1
    I use 國語辭典 often but would not call it "authoritative." It contains a lot of mistakes. Be aware of this fact when consulting the dictionary. I might still keep the email in which I asked them to change "天涯笑此時" to "天涯哭此時". – joehua Sep 2 at 7:47
  • @joehua Your comment should be "stickied" or blazoned permanently somewhere on this website. Have you asked the moderators to? – NNOX Apps Sep 5 at 7:40

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