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老舍,猫城记, p.47 (see also photo of original for further context; note: 大蝎 is the name of a character, and 迷林 is a kind of forest/farm on Mars)

I'm confused about:

CC-CEDICT: 弩 (nǔ​) crossbow

That's not a verb, but the sentence grammar requires a verb. Maybe it should be 射, or maybe the dictionary is incomplete, or maybe it's an obsolete usage. I don't know.

Question: In 大蝎的眼珠差一点弩出来, is 弩 ("crossbow") being used as a verb?

  • It looks like is the case that 弩 was used as a verb in place of 射 or 彈.
    – r13
    Jul 10, 2023 at 12:57
  • If there is no typo, and it is not a dialect or onomatopoeic usage, then this is one strange usage of the word, poetic license notwithstanding. Jul 11, 2023 at 4:53
  • By typo, I meant maybe it should be 凸, (Tū), ie, "差一点凸出来 " ? Jul 11, 2023 at 5:09
  • Or, maybe even this 吐, (tù)? Jul 11, 2023 at 5:41

3 Answers 3


弩 means "to bulge or protrude" here. In both middle and modern Chinese the homophone 努 is decisively more prevalent for this meaning:

唐 唐彥謙《采桑女》詩:“春風吹蠶細如蟻,桑芽纔青鴉嘴。”

元 李文蔚《燕青博魚》第二摺:“調動我這三尺攔關臂,起一千條歹鬥觔。”


This particular usage of 弩 (that is, used of one's eyes) seems nowhere to be found other than in 老舍's writing, but it is not without motivation. Chinese homophones that look alike often involve interchanging and borrowing in their meanings (通假) to some extent. In the case of 弩 and 努, the former appears to have acquired some of the latter's meanings by the late imperial period, apparently by mistake in the double-syllable word 努力:


明 何景明《贈望之》詩之五:“去住各弩力,良覿會有因。”

Then maybe folk etymology decided that this usage is worthy of more exposure because, say, who could deny that "crossbow" pertains to "bulging"? Anyway, the result is that 弩 broke away from the shackles of one fixed word into more flexible usage by Qing dynasty:




  1. 弩 is a verb in the context provided. It means "to bulge or protrude".
  2. Most of the time it comes together with 嘴 or 眼.
  3. If you want to use it, write 努.

Question: In 大蝎的眼珠差一点弩出来, is 弩 ("crossbow") being used as a verb?

The answer is yes. 弩 ("crossbow") being used as a verb at here.

最简单的句子是由主语和谓语构成,谓语通常是动词,这个动词用来表示主语的状态,比如 牛跑了风扇停了他渴了 等,显而易见,在这里只有弩出来(*出来)表示动词.

分析大蝎的眼珠差一点弩出来时,眼珠是主语,大蝎的说明是谁的(whose)眼珠弩出来是动词,差一点表示弩出来的程度. 差一点弩出来那就是没有弩出来.


个人感觉这里的弩出来突出来意思差不多. 或许大蝎的眼珠差一点弩出来 可以换成 大蝎的眼珠差一点突出来.

另外老舍的作品<骆驼祥子>非常强烈推荐看,因为书里面的故事在当下的中国大陆重复上演了,甚至可以说剧本都没改动,变化的只是故事的主人公的名字和主人公追求的物质东西变了,比如由人力车变为房子. 评价这部小说写的怎么样?就两个字:通透.

  • 人在激動憤怒緊張的時候眼珠子會突顯(突出來); 只有在看到什麼難以置信的事或物眼珠子才會掉跳/出來.
    – r13
    Jul 11, 2023 at 12:02
  • @r13 , 我改下,感谢指正,改为突出来,
    – Tom
    Jul 11, 2023 at 13:07

Poetic license: “having the shape of a crossbow, bulging forward"




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