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What is the difference between 柔韧 and 灵活 ? Both mean flexible (and both are adjectives, as I see). Which one suits more to “schedule” for instance - “flexible schedule” ? And which suit to “hamstrings”. Thank you 😊

4 Answers 4

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柔韧 relates to a person's physical flexibility to bend/stretch, for example, "她的身體像草般的柔韧" means "her body is as flexible as grass".

灵活 is the agility of a person's body parts coordination, brain function/thought process, and the flexibility of a thing's making direction changes. Examples are: "她的身手佷灵活 - her body parts coordination is very flexible", "她的腦筋佷灵活 - she has a very quick flexible mind", and "灵活的政策 - flexible policy".

"flexible schedule" - 灵活的时间表/计划

"flexible hamstrings" - 灵活的腿筋

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  1. 灵活: 快捷;不死板: nimble, quick, not rigid
  2. 灵活: 不拘泥于固有模式,善于变通: not bound by fixed patterns, good at adapting

柔韧: 柔软而坚韧: soft and strong but pliable

a flexible schedule:
灵活性的计划表
可变通的日程表
灵活的计划表

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柔韧 means "soft yet tough / tenacious." You can use 柔韧 to describe toilet paper. It is a pure physical property.

灵活 is "agile, nimble." It can be physical, mental, mechanical, etc. A gymnast can be 灵活, so can a monkey or rabbit. Even reactions can be described as 灵活.

"Flexible" doesn't quite match up with either.

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  • 柔韧(soft, firm and stretchable) = flexible - describes body or muscle.

Example:

Ballet dancers' bodies are very flexible (柔韧)

Boxers' muscles are very flexible (柔韧)

  • 灵活(agile and lively) = agile/ flexible - describes moveability or agility

Example:

My wrist has recovered and become flexible (灵活) again, (I can turn it in wide angles again)

Footballers' movements are very agile (灵活) (they can change directions quickly)

Which one suits more to “schedule”?

flexible schedule = 灵活的时间表 (it can be flexibly changed)

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