I'm curious as to how 索性 came to be translated as "you might as well (do it)"

  1. 索性: 直截了当,干脆
  2. 索性:任性

索 apparently has English meanings of: large rope, cable; rules, laws; to demand, to exact; to search, inquire; isolated

:) You could translate 索性 as 'rope nature' :)

Which meaning of 索 is involved in 索性?

"might as well" is a subjunctive statement.

Is "might as well" an over-translation?
Where does 索性 come from?
Is 索性 actually a short version of something longer?

  • 索 could also mean 寂寞(loneliness) and 没有兴趣(no interest). E. g. 索然无味.
    – dan
    Sep 2, 2020 at 0:31

1 Answer 1


Here’s a highly unsatisfying answer.

《汉语大辞典》has a definition of 索 that defines it as:


And they give the example:

早知死後無情義, 索把生前恩愛勾。

《现代汉语大词典》also has an entry on 索 that defines it as:


Outlier gives the following meaning tree which maps out the development of word meanings and it seems to show that this meaning was originally of a different tone:

Character meanings

1 (orig.) two hands holding a rope made of plant stalks and leaves
2 → rope

3 ⇒ to search, follow a line

4 񰁃 to ask, demand


1 ⇒ strip, line

2 񰁃 simply

It would seem that suó was later merged into suǒ.

  • Thanks! I suppose we can, in the right context, bend the meaning of 'simply' or 'just' to 'might just as well': 既然已经做了,~就把它做完。找了几个地方都没有找着,~不再找了。
    – Pedroski
    Sep 2, 2020 at 21:53

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