I've been trying to figure out if Chinese has a similar concept to the idea of "mentor" in english. I know 导师 and 良师 are both options that have been thrown out. But, I'm not sure if they imply the type of relationship that I'm trying to express. If anyone has any ideas (or can see a way of expressing that "I am receiving mentorship from someone"). I would really appreciate the help!

  • 1
    maybe you should explain the concept more in English first
    – Mou某
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 4:37
  • Why 导师 and 良师 are thrown out? It is not obvious to me.
    – NS.X.
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 5:48
  • We Cantonese have a common saying "我都唔係你肚入面條蟲, 鬼知你諗咩呀?!"
    – Henry HO
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 14:59

1 Answer 1


Here are some words which are all related to the idea you are trying to express with pinyin and approximate English glosses:

  • 曼托爾 [Màntuō'ěr] "Mentor - the actual historical figure from whom the English word 'mentor' is derived" (proper name)
  • 老師 [lǎoshī] "teacher" (generic, can be distant, but usually intimate)
  • 師父 [shīfu] "tutor, master, teacher" (usually for something that is practiced)
  • 師傅 [shīfu] "master worker" (usually manual labor)
  • 良師 [liángshī] "good teacher" (rarely used in this sense outside the context of 良師益友 as far as I know)
  • 顧問 [gùwèn] "consultant, adviser" (has the same feel as in English, a bit more distant)
  • 導師 [dǎoshī] "tutor, mentor, teacher, supervisor" (can be both distant and intimate)
  • 指導者 [zhǐdǎozhě] "coach, mentor, counselor" (distant)

On the whole, it doesn't seem that Chinese has a particular term which is a perfect, exact match to the English sense of "mentor". However, the one that feels most right to me is 導師 [dǎoshī], given that I have also seen used the related term 導生 [dǎoshēng] "mentee".

導 [dǎo] means "to guide" or "to lead" with related terms: 指導 [zhǐdǎo] "direction, guidance, supervision", 教導 [jiàodǎo] "teaching, guidance", and 領導 [lǐngdǎo] "leadership, leader".

Given how "mentor" and "mentorship" are used in English, especially in the business sense, 導師 seems the most appropriate. In which case, you could say, "我受他的指導" ["wǒ shòu tā de zhǐdǎo"] "I am receiving his mentorship". This would make it seem that 指導者 [zhǐdǎozhě] might be a better choice for "mentor"; however, 指導者 [zhǐdǎozhě] seems more distant than 導師 [dǎoshī], which feels more intimate.

  • 1
    導師 is probably the closest one can get. There isn't really an exact Chinese word for mentor, as far as I can tell. Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 3:23

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