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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14
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8answers
2k views

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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2answers
337 views

Implications of “旧的不去,新的不来”

I found this idiom while looking for another idiom my friend told me about like 回去回来 or 回来回去. I'm wondering about the implications of 旧的不去,新的不来 though. Can this be used for people who hold onto broken ...
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2answers
751 views

Which period in Chinese history produced the most chengyu?

There are tens of thousands of chengyu, many of them are historical in nature, whilst others are loaned from foreign sources such as Buddhism. Which period or dynasty in Chinese history produced the ...
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Specifics of the idiom “四海一家”

There are several sayings and idioms similar to 四海一家 which reference "四海". Does the 四海 actually refer to 4 specific oceans such as the Indian, Pacific etc. or is it more of a metaphor for all of the ...
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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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7answers
627 views

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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「虚有其表」这个成语可以用來形容好看,但内容全错的报告吗?

I have a question: 成语-虚有其表-可以用在下面情形吗? 有一个人的报告写的很好看,很漂亮,可内容都错了。 有没有其他的成语? Any suggestion?
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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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271 views

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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How would one accurately translate “万事大吉”?

This is a four character phrase for which I have found no accurate translation online. I hear it all the time around CNY. 万事大吉
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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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5answers
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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,...
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1answer
282 views

Does tone sandhi apply to 成语

In my previous question I found the following about tone sandhi and yī 'one': yī on its own or not followed by other tones yī → yí when followed by a fourth tone yī → yì when followed by ...
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3answers
169 views

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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4answers
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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 ...
5
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1answer
375 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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4answers
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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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2answers
321 views

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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Request for a 成语 to describe a person with all of 貌, 才, and 德

We can use 才貌双全 to describe a person with both 貌 and 才 and 德才兼备 to describe a person with both 才 and 德. Does there exist a 成语 that describes a person with all of the three?
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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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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 that certain numbers ...
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6answers
381 views

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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6answers
175 views

Can 偷工减料 be used to describe the intentional and open purchasing of somewhat inferior product?

I know that 偷工减料 is frequently used to describe intentionally (and perhaps secret) shoddy construction. When I translate it, I usually say "Cut corners". However, I think 偷工减料 has a very negative ...
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2answers
537 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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5answers
712 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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2answers
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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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2answers
81 views

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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7answers
169 views

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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3answers
218 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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3answers
243 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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1answer
62 views

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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3answers
333 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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5answers
206 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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3answers
214 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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3answers
951 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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2answers
172 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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3answers
130 views

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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3answers
266 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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7answers
507 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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4answers
510 views

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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1answer
134 views

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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1answer
327 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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1answer
264 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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4answers
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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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1answer
222 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 ...
2
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1answer
201 views

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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1answer
151 views

What is the significance of 吃秋葵时过世?

I found this on nciku.cn and after searching around I could find no other references or even mention. Is this a translation error or some sort of dictionary blip? I asked a few Chinese friends but ...
2
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1answer
76 views

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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4answers
95 views

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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2answers
115 views

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 ...