2

The Chinese saying "天上有,地下无" means extremely extraordinary people, which can only be found in heaven (天上有) and not on earth (地下无).

Very interesting is the first one of these two etymologies I have found for the saying:

Etymology 1

绝无仅有。天上有,地下无,这句俗语出自古代莎士比亚的剧本哥林多前书,准确的翻译成汉语便是地底没有什么能比天上的东西更好,绝无仅有的意思。

Sources:

  1. 评价要天上有的,地下无的,怎么评价
  2. 天上有地下无的意思

Etymology 2

天上少有,地下无双,俗语,意思是形容人才出众,非常难得。也形容东西珍贵、稀有。

《红楼梦》六五回:“奶奶不知道,我们家的姑娘不算,另外有两个姑娘,真是天上少有,地下无双。”

周而复《上海的早晨》一部二八:“别的人是一表人材,我们的菊霞小姐是两表人材,能文能武,天上少有,地下无双。”

Sources

  1. 天上少有,地下无双

Which one is the correct one? Personally, I prefer the second one, 天上少有,地下无双, because it's very intuitive and self-explanatory.

However, I am very curious about the first Shakespeare one, which the source says is from "莎士比亚的剧本哥林多前书," and I wonder if anyone can please help find the original English version.

Thanks in advance.

1
  • The first version is purely non-sense. "哥林多前书" is 1 Corinthians, which is certainly not written by Shakespeare. The Chinese bibles which we have today were translated in 19th century, long after 红楼梦 had been written. Dec 23, 2023 at 13:01

1 Answer 1

2

Actually, "天上有,地下无" can not be called as a Chinese saying because there is no origin. It is just an expression that shares the same meaning with "天上少有,地下无双".

"天上少有,地下无双" is the correct one and it comes from 《红楼梦》六五回: https://baike.baidu.com/item/%E5%A4%A9%E4%B8%8A%E5%B0%91%E6%9C%89%EF%BC%8C%E5%9C%B0%E4%B8%8B%E6%97%A0%E5%8F%8C/53707596

As for the first etymology, my suggestion is---forget about it. Because answers on zhidao.baidu are often ambiguous and unreliable.(According to my own experience)

Plus, if next time you have some similar questions, visiting www.baike.baidu.com is recommended because answers there are convincing.

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.