CC-CEDICT: 寒暄 (hán​xuān​) to exchange conventional greetings / to exchange pleasantries

CC-CEDICT: 寒 (hán​​) cold / poor / to tremble
CC-CEDICT: 暄 (xuān​) genial and warm

I have trouble remembering 寒暄 because the meaning of its two characters seem unrelated to the meaning of 寒暄. I guess when people make smalltalk, they tend to talk about the weather. In any case...

Question: Is there a story behind the word 寒暄?

Googling 寒暄 etymology doesn't help, as the links (e.g. 1, 2, 3) just list random unhelpful, auto-generated information about the characters, and not the word itself.

  • There are a lot of stories centered on the concept of 寒暄, but I didn't find any about the word itself, like the one behind the word 矛盾. Jul 31, 2021 at 15:20

3 Answers 3


i would shortcut “寒暄” to “greetings” 😼

there was an interesting story related to "寒暄" in 建康實錄 卷十:



one day, the seventh son (獻之) of calligrapher (王羲之), together with his two elder brothers (徽之, 操之) visited a politician (謝安).

his two elder brothers overtalked about worldy affairs (多言俗事), while 獻之 only greeted (唯寒暄而已).

after their leaving (既出), one of the guests asked the politician (客問安): "the goods and bads of the three brothers?" (王氏兄弟優劣)

the politician said (安曰): "the youngest is the best" (少者佳)

have fun :)

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Next time try a proper dictionary first.





So it's just talking about the weather when people meet.


寒暄 usually occurs at the beginning of a gathering prior to it has formally started, during which, people start to greet the few early birds and exchange pleasantries. The gathering will start to pick up pace as more people coming, and getting more interesting, which can be considered as the situation "getting hotter". Compared to this stage, the beginning (people started to arrive) is considered "cold" (寒), and the talks occurred prior to the formal start of the gathering is 寒暄 (a casual talk to pass time).

Note that 寒暄 is not limited to the beginning period of a gathering as suggested above, but any talk that has secondary importance or less, a casual talk that only meant to pass time while waiting for the start of the formal event, during or near the end of such event.

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