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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266 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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102 views

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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125 views

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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51 views

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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57 views

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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What is the verbatim (grammatical) meaning of 不了​了之?

不了​了之 is a ChengYu, read as bu4 liao3 liao3 zhi1 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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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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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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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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146 views

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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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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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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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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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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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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“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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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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Are there any online resources for learning Chinese 4-character idioms

I'm interested particularly in the 4-character idioms/chengyu's. Some that I've learnt recently: 独一无二 - unique 由此可见 - this shows that 一般来说 - generally speaking I've realised they come in really ...
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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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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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446 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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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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129 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 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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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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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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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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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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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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114 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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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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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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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 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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113 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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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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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, ...