Used in describing a person, is it a set expression?


  • Never heard of it, can you show the source of these examples?
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 0:53
  • 掌上明珠嗎? a beloved one (the daughter)? Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 1:08

5 Answers 5


The abbreviation of 掌上明珠本珠. It means she is the real precious pearl of him.

The main body of 掌上明珠 is 明珠, 珠.

xx本x is a playful way of expressing, if I want to express I am as handsome as 黄磊, I will say I am 黄磊本磊: I'm the 黄磊.


黄磊也太宠黄多多了,明珠本珠了 Huang Lei has treated his daughter Huang Duoduo like a precious pearl, making her a real such thing per se.

Huang Lie is a teacher of theatrical performance at a Beijing-based academy. He has long tried to help build the reputation of his first-born daughter (he has two daughters and one son) in many ways. This duaghter was well known to the public by her appearance a few years back in a TV reality show. In this sense, Father Huang is a strategist.

明珠本珠 is believed to be a naughty expression to highlight the meaning of "per se", with a popular wording pattern of "AB本B", that features the last very Chinese character repeated. More examples, 迪力热巴本巴(a famous Uigur actress), 马云本云(a wealthy businessman), you can make such words as many as you like.

There is also variation available now, that is, "AB(+name of place)分B", implying somebody or something has a very similar resemblance. For example, 她是王心凌湖南分凌, which means this girl looks so like the famous singer Cindy Wang Xinling (of Taiwan) that she can be called the branch (or a knock-off) of this star in Hunan Province. Please note that 凌 as the last word or Chinese character has to be repeated.


Actually, nowadays many young Chinese use the expression "XX本X" to emphasize something. This means that we can translate "明珠本珠" into "a 'really' apple of one's eye". But one should keep in mind that such expressions are quite informal and shall not be used in formal occasions.

  • 1
    Thanks for your answer Zhao! It could be improved by providing other examples of the pattern being used, and if possible, by explaining the actually meaning behind the phrase. What does 本 mean in this sense?
    – Buddy L
    Commented Jun 7, 2022 at 14:03

The key-adjective is 明珠 like "precious" or figuratively "pearl" or "jewel".

Together with the reinforcing appendix 本珠了 it becomes emphasized as "really precious" or "the precious" .

The pattern <adj>本<adj>了 seems like the 了 le grammar #1: Set structures.


The original form may be XYZ本人, extended to the XYZ本Z form later.
the original Z of XYZ, the unique/real Z of those who claimed as XYZ.
It is used to emphasize that one is absolutely XYZ, for example:

He is absolutely/really Donald Trump himself
He is the real Donald Trump

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