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I watched a mainland Cantonese program explaining 「打斧頭」. Since an axe is only sharp on one side. The back part of the axe is often cast with inferior materials to reduce costs. Therefore, the meaning of「打斧頭」 is "to cut corners"(偷工减料)

Does anyone think it is correct? I ask this because the allusions to 「打斧頭」 that I know are quite different.

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對此語眾說紛紜但終歸于此一說 - “打斧头”的意思是比喻代买东西或代办事情时从中占小便宜。

来源: 新华网广东频道 - http://m.xinhuanet.com/gd/2017-09/08/c_1121605119.htm#

"乜意思:

  “打斧头”的意思是比喻代买东西或代办事情时从中占小便宜。

  点造句:

  佢份人咁老实,唔会打斧头嘎。(他这个人很老实,不会在代办事情时从中占小便宜的。)

  佢成日打斧头,老细发现之后炒左佢鱿鱼。(他经常在代办事情时占小便宜,老板发现后将他辞退了。)

  话你知:

  以前打铁铺打造各种器具(如菜刀、柴刀、斧头等等)出卖,用的钢材质量不同,价格也不一样。那时候,打铁铺的经营方式有两种:一是铁匠用自己的铁料打造产品出卖,二是顾客来料加工。“打斧头”说的是来料加工这一种。木匠用的斧头需要好钢来打造才能保持长久锋利,因此木匠常常自己寻觅好钢拿去给铁匠定打斧头。因为以前好钢难得而且价格高,所以铁匠拿到木匠送来的好钢后,常常会切一半出来,用另一半混入半块普通铁料来锻打,只要保证好钢部分打在斧口那一边,别人就看不出来。这样铁匠就等于用半块普通铁料换了半块好钢,占了便宜。后来,人们就用“打斧头”来比喻代买东西或代办事情时从中占小便宜."

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  • Isn't it a more cost-efficient way to have the materials available (which is often limited) put to best use? I also see in real life the back of sofa are left unpainted because it is placed against the wall and not the side to be seen. Sep 3, 2023 at 7:50
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In ancient times, a famous general named "Cheng Yaojin" (程咬金) was famous for his ax skill.

Therefore,「打斧頭」(swinging ax) makes people think of 「程咬金」, and 「咬金」 literally means "bite gold/money"

The true meaning of 「打斧頭」 is 「替人買東西時私吞部分找零」(embezzle part of the change when shopping for others) In another Cantonese term is 「落膈」(embezzle)

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    Quote:- "替人買東西時私吞部分找零" Yes, coming from a Cantonese mother, this is what I understand it to mean. In a domestic setting, the housewife, in a bygone era or even now, secretly keeps a small portion of the marketing money she gets from her husband as a sort of rainy-day money for herself. BTW, I thought the usual term for "to cut corners" in an industrial setting is 偷工减料? Sep 2, 2023 at 2:00
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According to this article, "雖然沒有明證,但斧頭應該是「斛斗」之誤。"

「斛斗」 are used for measurements. Therefore 「打斧頭」 means use smaller (non-standard) containers to skim off the differences. If that's the case that would make sense.

newspaper article

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