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Chengyu (simplified Chinese: 成语; traditional Chinese: 成語, pinyin: chéngyǔ, lit. "set phrases") are a type of traditional Chinese idiomatic expressions, most of which consist of four characters. Chengyu were widely used in Classical Chinese and are still common in vernacular Chinese writing and in ...

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Chinese expression for “go out early and return early”

I'm Looking for a Chinese expression that means something like "go out early and return early" or "the sooner you leave, the sooner you can come back". It expresses a wish for a person who is leaving ...
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Meaning of 走马看花

So, I came across this chengyu and my understanding is that it means something like "to take a cursory look at something" or, to quote my dictionary, "粗略地观察事物". Now, I understand this and I see where ...
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What is the difference between 井底之蛙 and 坐井观天?

To express a person that has a narrow view, there are two 成语. According to 百度词典: 坐井观天 坐在井底看天。比喻眼界小,见识少。 井底之蛙 井底的蛙只能看到井口那么大的一块天。比喻见识狭窄的人。 Both words include derogatory sense (含贬义). But for me ...
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What's distinguishes a chengyu (Chinese idiom) from a 4-character expression?

I read the first two pages of 狐狸的窗户 (Húlí de chuānghù) = The Fox's Window (douban.com) on my Kindle, and encountered several 4-character phrases: 异口同声 (yì kǒu tóng shēng) = all with one voice (Baidu ...
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89 views

How to correctly translate 为达目的不择手段 in English?

I have a lot of context that I want to use this phrase to describe a certain type of people. I tried to translate it as "Not being ashamed of using evil methods to accomplish goals". But I think my ...
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132 views

怎么用草船借箭这个成语 how/when to use 草船借箭

When and how do we use the idiom 草船借箭? I know where the story comes from — 《三国演义》— and I know the meaning. But I'm still not really clear in what situation I'd say this.
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86 views

Do “lipstick on a pig” and “画蛇添足” share the same meaning?

Do "lipstick on a pig" and "画蛇添足" share the same meaning? 画蛇添足 means "drawing snake with feet".
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Is there any difference between 相濡以沫 and 以沫相濡?

I encountered the following sentence: 他们都一直相濡以沫,患难与共。 I looked up the entry on Pleco, and although it shows the meaning, it also redirects toward 以沫相濡, which seems to have the same meaning (as ...
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29 views

What does the phrase 豪华名贵 mean in Dave Wong's song “爱不起”?

Cross-post notice Here is another Quora cross-post, this one 21 days old and marked as needing to be in English. Quora post. Question At the end of 爱不起, there is the sentence "越是迷住我 豪华名贵 越是发现爱不起". ...
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Meanings of 何以家为?

Is it a 成语? I'm wondering about its range of meanings. One source suggests, "use the rhetorical tone to indicate that you have no time or no mood to think about your family problems." Another says, ...
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134 views

Is 一日千秋 a chengyu?

Is 一日千秋 a chengyu? I have tried searching for it using google with mixed results. If it is a chengyu, what is its grammatical function?
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112 views

Are there any chengyu or xiehouyu that only mean their literal meaning?

Most chengyu and xiehouyu have a literal meaning and a figurative meaning. Take 鸡飞狗跳 for instance, it literally means [the] chicken[s] fly [and the] dog[s] jump, figuratively it stands for chaos and ...
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“If you can't beat them, join them” 成语 or 俗语

There is an English expression, "If you can't beat them, join them." For example, After competing with Microsoft for so many years, he finally accepted the lucrative offer and joined as their ...
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358 views

“Whatever you can do today, don't postpone it to tomorrow”

I just learned a German proverb: "Was du heute kannst besorgen, das verschiebe nicht auf morgen," which can be translated as: "Whatever you can do today, don't postpone it to tomorrow" Is ...
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92 views

成语 for expressing that a couple was meant for eachother

I seem to recall there being a 成语 to the effect of, "Heaven brought them together," or something like that. It expresses that the couple was truly meant for one another. Do you know which 成语 I am ...
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231 views

Translating the two meanings of 好自为之

My dictionary gives the meaning of 好自为之 as "look out for yourself". This is a positive thing you might say out of genuine concern for another person, and I think this was also the case with the ...
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166 views

Is there a 成语 that means something like “Little dogs always bark the loudest”?

What are some 成语 that mean something like "little dogs always bark the loudest", or "little dogs are mean"?
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239 views

揠苗助长 or 拔苗助长 ? Which one is correct?

A dictionary says both chengyus being equal in meaining. Is it so, or is there any difference between these two idioms?
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153 views

Is there a chengyu to mean “walk with one's own legs”

I'm looking for a chengyu (成语) or a proverb or a phrase that can elegantly express "to walk with one's own legs", which is used to say that someone has learnt enough and doesn't need a master any more....
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45 views

Care yields fine products

Is there a 成语 saying that care yields fine products (eg. care as in cheerfulness)? I have heard 慢工出细货, but I would like a 成语 to express something like 小心出细货, not sure if this expression id's even ...
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88 views

袖手旁观 generalizations

I am looking for Chinese 成语 that generalize 袖手旁观, but indicate complacency with regards to something that could happen, rather than to something that has already happened, or is happening. Thanks. ...
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精益求精, how to properly interpret this classical Chinese chengyu?

The idiom stands for constantly strive for improvement. When I look at 精益求精, I read Excellence increase seek excellence But shouldn't it be Excellence increase seek more excellence Of course if ...
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Meaning of 别 in 别开生面?

I am aware of the fact that 别 usually means "don't", but what about :/ the expression 别开生面​。 Here, doors it mean "another"? What exactly does it mean in this context? Thanks.
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Meaning of characters in 休戚相关, 患难与共

I have consulted a dictionary, but am unsure of the meaning of 关 in 休戚相关, 患难与共。 Also I'm not sure about the meaning of 与 in this context.
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Alternatives to 自圆其说, but for self-justification

自圆其说 refers to making one's statement plausible. Is there a similar saying, indicating the action of justifying one's own reason, but justifying it to oneself, i.e., without necessarily making it ...
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107 views

How well-known is the expression 杯弓蛇影?

I like this 成语 and brought it up in a conversation, but the person I was speaking with (an expat Chinese) didn't know it. So I would like to know how well-known it is. Would a 10 year old in Beijing ...
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480 views

Why 文以載道 but 以文會友?

以 is one of the most confusing words in Chinese. Texts that really challenge me are usually full of it. Today I saw something confusing again: I encountered the phrase 文以載道。The document claims it ...
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Is there a proverb that means something like an enemy's best tactic is to hide himself?

I'm looking for a 成语 that means something along the lines of an enemy's best tactic is to hide himself, or to make you believe he doesn't exist.
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100 views

Does anyone know origins of 万一?

Does anyone knows how 万一 became a phrase with "just in case" meaning? Is it a shorthand of a longer phrase or chengyu?
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147 views

What are the 1,500 chengyu for the 2015 chengyu convention

The 2015 Chengyu Convention apparently tested contestants on 1,500 different chengyu. Where's the list of the 1,500 Chengyu?
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What is the correct saying?

In Zhuang Zi 5.2 we read: 聞之曰:『鑑明則塵垢不止,止則不明也。久與賢人處,則無過。』 Lin Yutang translation: "Now I have heard that if a mirror is perfectly bright, dust will not collect on it, and that if it does, the mirror ...
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Is 察颜观色 or 察言观色 the correct term to use?

I have found citations from ancient texts backing both interpretations on the Internet while searching for the correct form of the term: 清·唐甄《潜书·食难》:“吾老矣,岂能复俯首于他人之宇下,察颜观色,以求无拂于人,吾不能也。 However, ...
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What is the verbatim (grammatical) meaning of 不了​了之 ?

不了​了之 is a ChengYu, read as bu4liao3liao3zhi1 its figurative meaning is "to let sth. in its original state". I guess the ChengYu had some concrete verbatim meaning in literary Chinese, but I do not ...
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What is the meaning of 庸 in the phrase 毋庸置疑?

毋庸置疑 is a chengyu. Its meaning is "beyound any doubt", but what is its verbatim meaning in literary Chinese? 毋 is like "don't" 置 is "to place, to put" 疑 is "doubt" 庸 I am not sure of the correct ...
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How to translate “If everything goes as planned…”

For example If everything goes as planned, we should have a successful journey. I hope everything goes as planned tonight. Specifically, I'm wondering if there's an idiom for this. If not, ...
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95 views

Two contrasts between 文 and 武, culture and war

There are two sayings available on-line, each with various explanations. One is: 文无第一 武无第二 (in culture there is no first, in war there is no second) And one is: 文无第二武无第一 (in culture there is no ...
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When to use 一言难尽

When is it appropriate to use 一言难尽? Please supply a scenario where this would be a good reply. I have found this in my dictionary but I want to make sure I use in in the correct context.
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327 views

Chinese Chengyu (Idiom): Refute somebody with his own argument

Is there a Chinese Idiom for "Refute somebody with his own argument"? I thought this is not quite the same as "self-contradictory" 自相矛盾. Thank you.
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117 views

成語 with 鮑魚, grammar structure?

I stumbled upon this 成語: 如入鮑魚之肆久而不聞其臭。 it's like staying in a fish market and getting used to the stink long exposure to bad surroundings or bad company accustoms one to evil ways (source of ...
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Chengyu dictionary

I am looking for a chengyu dictionary with the following caracteristics: the stories behind the chengyus in englis (or with chinese too), long, not just one or two sentence explanation, when and how ...
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179 views

What does 飘然而至 mean?

My context is an old, untranslated flashcard I've found. My guess it means "like a feather", referring to low weight and/or susceptibility to outside force. What are meaningful contexts and according ...
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179 views

凤毛麟角 - How to use?

I think that the 成语 "凤毛麟角" is pretty awesome, and I would like to learn how to use it. Could you please help me? My teacher said I could use it to describe a person who is truly unique, but when I ...
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成语 or expression for perservering

I am looking for an expression (maybe a 成语) which can describe the idea of, "I know I have a long way to go, but if I keep trying, I can succeed." For example, "我的发音还差得远,可是" Meaning, "My ...
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Regional variations on 三更半夜

A couple years ago, I was at a Chinese(-American) gathering and the topic of 成语 came up. One of them was 三更半夜. My family is from Hangzhou, and previously I had always known of it as 深更半夜. On the other ...
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What is the meaning of 晦 in the phrase 韬光养晦?

I find the phrase 韬光养晦 in a context,and I look up it in the dictionary,it means hidden talents, do not make the leakage.But I still don't know the meaning of 晦.
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Chengyu with two numbers

There are chengyu with two numbers in them, for example: 一穷二白 (一, 二) 万众一心 (万, 一) 七上八下 (七, 八) 九五至尊 (九, 五) But it seems that the selection of numbers is not completely random, and ...
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三长两短: what's long and what's short?

(求词源) 三长两短 is a chengyu that means "unforeseen disaster". It can also be a euphemism for death. Here's an example of its usage: 明·罗贯中《三遂平妖传》:“万一些后再有三长两短,终不能靠着太医活命。” What is its etymology though? ...
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How to translate: 人是铁,饭是钢,一顿不吃烦得慌. What is the logic?

人是铁,饭是钢,一顿不吃烦得慌 I can not really figure out to translate this sentence. I guess it basically means that not eating is a bad thing. The first sentences - do they indicate that "iron" and "steel" ...
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397 views

What is the etymology and usage of 爱不释手

爱不释手 be so fond of something that one will not let it out of one's hand So I'm guessing 爱 would be the being fond of something and the 不释手 would be the not letting go. I feel like it's missing ...
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Variants of 将在外,君命有所不受?

There seems to be multiple versions of this idiom, with slightly different characters: Baidu: 将在外,君命有所不受 汉典: 将在军,君命有所不受 And a big bunch of variants: 将在外,军令有所不受 将在外,军令有所不从 将在外,君令有所不受 将在外,...