Questions tagged [chengyu]

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 the spoken language today.

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What is the purpose of 赴 (“to visit”) within 全力以赴 (“to make an all-out effort”)?

全力以赴 (quán​lì​yǐ​fù​) CC-CEDICT: to do at all costs / to make an all-out effort Breaking apart this chengyu, we find: 全力: "with all one's strength / full strength / all-out (effort) / fully (...
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成语 and 俗语 emphasizing adaptation

I would like to know what chinese 成语 or 俗语 can be used to emphasize the need of people or generations to adapt to the given situation or environment. Thanks.
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Attack them when they are unready, take them by surprise : 这个成语有多少方法可以说?

Could you please let me know which of these sound right and why the other ones sound wrong? I'm not sure about the difference between 不 and 无. 出其不意,攻其不备 攻其不备,出其不意 攻其无备,出其无意 攻其不备,出其无意 攻其无备,出其不意 都可以用吗
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what does 塞翁 mean in 塞翁失马?

I recently read about this idiom and its story. I know what it actually means. But when it comes to character by character translation, I struggled. I asked some of my Chinese friends, but they didn't ...
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What is the meaning and origin of 高人一等?

So I have just started to learn some 成语 but I came across a 成语 that is 高人一等. I was just wondering what it means, and where it could have come from. From context clues, I think it has to do with tall ...
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What is the role of chengyu (成语) in a sentence?

I've learned some chengyu (idiomatic expression), and I see many are used in different position in the sentence. For example: adjective -> 那个人看来有点不三不四 noun -> 我集市看到人山人海 adverb or verb? -> ...
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Similarities between Japanese 四字熟語 and Chinese 成语?

I have been learning Japanese 四字熟語 as a passtime for sometime and I would like to know whether most of them can be used verbatim in Chinese or if there are Japanese-made yojijukugo which cannot be ...
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What is the original Mandarin translation for this proverb: “The wise man and the tortoise travel but never leave their home.”

I've seen the proverb "the wise man and the tortoise travel but never leave their home" online on quite a few websites: https://www.kalimaquotes.com/quotes/10008/the-wise-man-and-the https:/...
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Is there a chengyu to describe small-time thieves or scoundrels with a playful connotation?

I'm looking for a chengyu or an idiom to colloquially describe small-time criminals, but without excessive negative connotation. There are already words both in Chinese and English that come close: ...
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What are the repeatedly used structures in 4-character expressions (e.g. chengyu) and what do they mean?

In today's reading, I encountered the expression 敬而远之. However, I noticed this x而y之 structure is repeated in many other 4-character expressions (Pleco search ?而?之): 敬而远之 大而化之 等而下之 分而治之 换而言之 久而久之 取而代之 ...
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Is there a chengyu to mean “undeserved reward” or “undeserved luck”?

Let's consider someone who sits on their buttocks all day, but, in spite of not working hard, gets rewarded anyway. Some examples: a particularly lazy coworker who gets a promotion/raise even if they ...
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Is there an idiomatic way to express 乱说 or 胡说八道 in an elegant way?

Essentially, let's say that during a polite conversation, I want to remark that someone 乱说 / 胡说八道 “talks rubbish", without sounding inelegant or unrefined (没素质). What's a good euphemism, a ...
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In 立下了汗马功劳, how should I understand 立下了 (“set up”) 汗马功劳 (“war exploits”)?

In many example sentences for the chengyu 汗马功劳 hànmǎgōngláo war exploits; (fig.) heroic contribution[src] we see 立下了汗马功劳, e.g.: 他参加过许多战役, 立下了汗马功劳, 但他仍然很谦虚。 I don't understand this because 立下 = &...
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Do most native speakers understand these Chengyus at all? 霽範永存, 亹亹不卷, 巾袖無光, 鑿枘不入

I am learning some Chengyu but after a google search with inverted commas, only a very small number of usages are found: 266 results for 霽範永存; 720 results for 亹亹不卷; 817 results for 巾袖無光; 886 ...
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Is there an idiom for a “lose-lose” situation?

Is there an idiom for a "lose-lose" situation, in which both sides receive a negative effect? In particular, if there is a 成语 that would be great! EDIT: What about describing two decisions for a ...
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“你我未来,由此展开。” Is this a real Chinese expression?

Is this an authentic Chinese expression? If it is, then why is the only place I see it in use on the Chinese-language version of the US Census website?
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Is 金口难开 an idiom, and if so what would be a suitable CC-CEDICT definition?

I stumbled upon 金口难开, and I think it's a 成语. I think it describes people who are pretentious (金口 = gold mouth), which makes it hard for them to speak (难开 = difficult to open). Examples: ...
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What's a suitable CC-EDICT definition for 各司其职?

I encountered 各司其职 in my textbook 发展汉语,高级口语(I) on page 19, so I'm attempting to whip up a CC-EDICT definition. Question: What's a suitable CC-EDICT definition for 各司其职? The definition the textbook ...
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How do I use a chengyu (idiom) to describe a “one extreme to the other” kind of transformation?

In my story, 孔琳's behavior has changed from ultra-depressed to ultra-optimistic in a matter of moments (she has an unstable personality). Her friends (陈叶 and 胡灵阳) are staring at her in amazement, and ...
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Does the chengyu 话不投机 (huà bù tóu jī) mean “uncongenial speech”?

I'm looking at creating a CC-EDICT entry for 话不投机 (huà bù tóu jī). This will need to go through their review process: All submitted entries will be queued for reviewing by the CC-CEDICT editors team....
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Do Chinese language users use 作心三日?

This isn't exactly a question about the linguistic properties of the Chinese language, but something I'm just curious about. Is 作心三日 a 成語 used in China? It's a very common Korean proverb, basically ...
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What's the Chinese equivalent of 将就? (成语)

For Example: 正版 Windows 太贵了, 只能拿盗版Windows或Ubuntu将就一下了. Which can be translated to Genuine Microsoft Windows is too expensive, I'll have to make do with pirated Windows or Ubuntu. Are there ...
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What are the HSK chengyu (idioms)?

I've been going through the HSK lists with awk, so I now feel like I can answer... Question: What are the HSK chengyu (idioms)? My answer is below. To my knowledge, there's no HSK5 idioms, except ...
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Is there a reliable way to check if an idiom (成语) is widely used?

Sometimes I encounter an idiom (or 成语) and think to myself "oh, I like this 成语, maybe I should learn it". However, I'll often find out later that nobody actually uses that particular 成语, and I've ...
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Idiom/成語 for “Worrying Doesn't Change the Outcome”

Is there an Idiom/成語 for "Worrying does not change the outcome"? To be used when someone is spending a lot of time / energy worrying about something that they have no control over. Thanks for any ...
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Idiom/chengyu meaning: 小葱拌豆腐一清二白

I recently came across 小葱拌豆腐一清二白 as a dictionary submission, but the explanation of the submitter was unclear. I have had mixed/little luck searching for the expression (or parts of it), and I also ...
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Anyone heard a saying about marriage being like cooking rice?

This was a question here which has a link to here "Chinesische Weisheiten" = Chinese wisdom. I don't really believe there is such a saying. I think it is "Quatsch", which is German for "rubbish, ...
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Meaning of a Fan Inscription

In a trip to Hangzhou, almost 2 years ago, I participated in one (the biggest if I'm not mistaken) of the Chinese National Amateur Weiqi Championship as a (Brazilian) foreigner. During one of the ...
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A shorter translation of 举案齐眉

举案齐眉 - 汉英大词典 A wife lifts the tray to a level with her eyebrows to show great respect for her husband Are there any shorter translations? PS: Why do people still admire such kind of marriage?
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Words related to several 成语 (via 《AB》 → 《-A-B》)

The word 颜色 (yánsè / colour; facial expression/looks) is clearly related to several chengyu: 五颜六色 容颜失色 正颜厉色 和颜悦色 怡颜悦色 喜颜悦色 I suspect that many two-character words AB are similar to 颜色, in that ...
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the leaf always falls down on its root

A friend of mine mentioned the Chinese saying that says that "the leaf always falls down on its root". I would like to know whether this refers to the text that in old age several people return to ...
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成语 or expression that one is speaking about a topic he knows nothing about

I am giving a presentation about topics in philosophy for my Chinese class, and unlike many of the students there, I have no formal education in the topic I am presenting. I feel it would be ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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“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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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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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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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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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?