CC-CEDICT: 杠杆 (gàng​gǎn​): lever / pry bar / crowbar / financial leverage

In English there are two types of lever, one which pivots via a fulcrum and is used for raising objects...

Image of bearded man raising sphere via the use of a lever
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

...and another which operates some kind of mechanism, such as in a hilarious scene from The Emperor's New Groove:

"Pull the lever Kronk... wrong leveeeeeer!"  "Why do we even have that lever?"

I'm not sure if the Chinese 杠杆 can take on this second meaning.

Question: Can 杠杆 ("lever") be used for levers which operate mechanisms?

2 Answers 2


A lever using leverage to lift an object is called "杠杆" (pry bar)

A lever for operating mechanisms is called "操纵杆" (control stick/operating lever)

A joystick is also a "操纵杆" (for game control)

扳机/ 扳杆 (trigger/ lever) that only move in two directions is what we see in that scene


I think the second one is more referred to as 把手/手柄 (handle) or 机关/扳机 (trigger). I never hear people call that a 杠杆. 杠杆 only means the first one, which is some mechanism that magnifies force, including abstract ones like in finance.

  • The most common usage of 把手/手柄 is "door handle" (门把手). Not all door handle can be turned.
    – Tang Ho
    Jan 16, 2022 at 1:20
  • @TangHo I am not disagreeing with that. But as I see the picture provided by the OP, if I translate that I would say 拉那个把手。不,不是那个把手!呃。到底是为了什么我们会有那个把手?
    – River
    Jan 16, 2022 at 1:25
  • That is why I said "not all", meaning some 把手/手柄 do move and function as operating lever. Some door handles can be turned to open the door lock
    – Tang Ho
    Jan 16, 2022 at 1:27

Your Answer

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

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.