How does that count?

As we know, Chinese directions can be categorized as 六合八方, but none of them is related to the number 10?

2 Answers 2


KEY defines: 十面 as: (on) all sides, (from) all sides

Also from a Baidu Zhidao question: 十面指的东,南,西,北,东北,东南,西北,西南,上,下

Ten sides: east, south, west, north, north-east, south-east, north-west, south-west, above, below

  • 1
    I think "十" meaning "complete, perfect" is the intention. The Baidu Zhidao theory sounds dubious because it's mixing 六合 and 八方 directions. Apr 9, 2014 at 1:57
  • @congusbongus you have reason, but in real life we normally say 四面埋伏. I had had thought that there to be a specific story for that expression... Apr 9, 2014 at 2:14
  • 3
    @user3685 "四面埋伏" isn't a chengyu. Sounds like an eggcorn or mistaken for 四面楚歌, which is a synonym. 十面埋伏 is often associated with 垓下之战. Apr 9, 2014 at 2:27


Translation: In ancient China, these kinds of numbers have abstract meanings. For example 三番五次 means "many times" not "3+5 = 8 times", and 士别三日,当刮目相看 also is not separation for 3 days, but rather a period of time.

十面埋伏 also should not be strictly interpreted as "10 faced" but rather ambushes are everywhere.

  • “士别三日”是因为典故里面就是实打实的三天吧。。。十面埋伏是古曲,所以我想是不是也专门有个典故的说。 Apr 9, 2014 at 2:12

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