I often meet the phrase in my reading of news reports, the latest one being 中超重新开赛在即,但仍然一地鸡毛. What does the writer imply?

4 Answers 4


一地鸡毛 is not an idiom. It is the title of a novel by Liu Zhenyun (1991)

Because the novel deals with the ordinary, mundane lives of ordinary people it was extended, by readers, as a social comment on the triviality of everyday matters of daily life, and later extended to anything messy, like the present state of mainland Chinese league football; much like a football field littered everywhere with chicken feathers. An insult I suppose.

Why chicken feathers?

There is an idiom, “鸡毛蒜皮" (Jī máo suàn pí). It literally translates as “chicken feathers and garlic skin”, to describe anything worthless or unimportant.

For the story behind the idiom -- https://www.echineselearning.com/blog/learn-how-to-use-a-chinese-idiom-of-triviality

There is actually an English legal principle -- "de minimis"

A legal term meaning too small to be meaningful or taken into consideration; immaterial. As a matter of policy, the law does not encourage parties to bring legal actions for technical breaches of rules or agreements where the impact of the breach is negligible.


一地鸡毛 literally means the feathers of chicken spread everywhere. It describes a messy circumstance and everything in disorder. In your sentence, it implies that everything is far from ready(still in a mess) whilst 中超重新开赛在即.

  • Can you tell me more about it? Why is it 鸡毛 but not 鸭毛 or others? Or the source of this idiom? Jul 17, 2021 at 10:06
  • @NanningYouth I have never heard this phrase before, but between chicken and duck, the former is more active in fighting. Actually, "chicken fight" remains a popular leisure game and a type of gambling in many SE Asian countries.
    – r13
    Jul 17, 2021 at 17:48
  • There is a Cantonese expression 鸡毛鸭血. It describes "In a difficult situation, helpless", It came from people mishearing 計無所施
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 17, 2021 at 18:03
  • @NanningYouth Don't the etymology. The phrase is often used in stock context. E. g. 股票炒作过后就是一地鸡毛.
    – dan
    Jul 17, 2021 at 22:33

Seems to get used a lot in connection with the Chinese Football Association! Not sure what that tells us!

I find 3 slightly nuanced meanings for:


  1. 可作为日常生活琐事、鸡毛蒜皮的小事的代称。
    Can act as an alternative expression for the triviality of daily life.

  2. 表示平庸、琐屑、卑下,无所作为、纠缠不清。
    It indicates something is mediocre, petty, base, without initiative, hopelessly muddled

  3. 又引申为糟糕、麻烦、混乱、使人厌烦、不受欢迎。
    Also has an extended meaning of "too bad, vexing, confused, make people fed up, something unwelcome."

There are some agencies vying for candidacy who started a dispute, who even appealed to the Chinese Football Association, it really is a muddle.


Refers to making a mess of things, a mess all over the place.

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