CC-CEDICT: 知音 (zhī​yīn​) intimate friend / soul mate

The above word has the hallmarks associated with chengyu (idioms): (a) it has an ancient background story, reflecting the close friendship between 俞伯牙 and 钟子期, (b) its characters allude to the backstory, rather than its literal meaning.

I don't believe there's a restriction that chengyu has a certain number of characters. I recall 东道主 being considered a chengyu, with similar justification to above.

Thus I think 知音 is a chengyu, and perhaps the shortest possible chengyu. Still, I'm hardly an authority of what is or isn't a chengyu.

Question: Is 知音 a 2-character chengyu?

1 Answer 1


There are a lot of terms that come with a back story, but they are not chengyu

知音 is not an idiom (成語), it is a literary word (文學詞)

Other examples:

伯樂 was a man who could pick out fine horses in the Spring and Autumn Period. His name is now a term for "the one with good eyes for talents". Yet, you can't say 伯樂 is a chengyu.

知己(the one who knows me) came from a chengyu 士为知己者死, but 知己 itself is not qualified to be a chengyu

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.