Questions tagged [idioms]

Questions related to idioms, maxims, sayings, and other expressions consisting of a combination of words that has an indirect, figurative meaning.

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2answers
159 views

Is 各式各样 Taiwanese version of 各种各样?

I know that 各式各样 = 各种各样, but is one Taiwanese version of the other one? What I mean is: is one more frequently used in China and the other is more frequently in Taiwan?
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2answers
116 views

Does the idiom 高城深池 have a positive or negative connotation?

The dictionary says that this idiom means impenetrable defense (high city walls, deep moat). Does this mean that an individual described with this idiom is stubborn or strong in resolve?
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3answers
139 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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3answers
123 views

What does 不按套路出牌的脑回路 mean? “unconventional brain circuitry”?

I'm reading a Chinese novel and I'm having trouble understanding something I feel is rather metaphorical. 张侃侃 is resisting being 追求ed by the flirtatious 谈晋. 张侃侃 tore her clothes and as she is ...
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5answers
122 views

Is there an idiomatic way to express being overwhelmed by vocabulary?

The other day, I wanted to describe my shock regarding the overwhelming HSK6 vocabulary list (~2500 additional words) to my teacher, so I came up with a self-made idiom 词山词海: taking 人山人海 and replacing ...
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6answers
273 views

What does 委屈你了 mean in this situation?

Suppose your friend invites you to dinner. He prepares a dish that he knows is too spicy for you, but you're a good sport and try it anyway; it actually turns out to be quite tasty. He says 委屈你了. "I ...
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4answers
1k views

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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4answers
227 views

How should I understand 虱子多了不咬,债多了不愁 (“lice much stop biting, debt much ignored”)?

After describing various urgent or overdue matters I should be dealing with yet ignore, my teacher said this: 虱子多了不咬,债多了不愁。 Shīzi duō le bù yǎo, zhài duō le bù chóu. I think she used it to mean ...
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2answers
88 views

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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1answer
57 views

What is the significance of 女娲补天 beyond its literal meaning “Nüwa mends the sky”?

女娲补天 refers to an ancient Chinese myth, and literally means something like "Goddess Nüwa mends the sky". I'd be interested in creating a CC-CEDICT definition for it, so it'll need the syntax: 女媧補天 ...
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3answers
88 views

The meaning of 东瞧西瞅?

In Mandarin translation of Little Red Riding Hood that can be found around (Grimm Stories, BaiDuBaiKe), mother warns Little Red Riding Hood: "外婆家的时候,别忘了说‘早上好’,也不要一进屋就东瞧西瞅。" How would you translate ...
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2answers
2k views

Chinese of “No one will think you’re mute because you don’t speak”

Does anyone know the correct Chinese expression that goes something like no one would think you’re mute because you don’t speak? And how it’s correctly written in Chinese? I’ve read the translation a ...
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3answers
118 views

Is there an expression similar to the English “gut feeling” in Chinese?

Is there a metaphor or idiom that has a similar meaning to "gut feeling", as a metaphor for "intuition" or "instinctive feeling", in Mandarin Chinese?
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6answers
157 views

what does this phrase mean 我偏不信邪

what does this phrase mean 我偏不信邪? the English literal translation is "I don't believe in evil" but that doesn't make sense to me.
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70 views

Looking for a [common] idiom that loosely translates to “I fart you away”

A few years ago when I first started learning Mandarin, a friend told me of a certain idiom that's used when you want someone to just leave you alone / go away. I can't recall the idiom in Mandarin ...
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4answers
82 views

Is there an idiom that means to make big claims but have little evidence to support them?

Is there an idiom that means to make big claims but have little evidence to support them?
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3answers
122 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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8answers
275 views

Why should someone learning Chinese as a second language learn 成语 idioms?

I was discussing 成语 (a type of Chinese idiom) with my teacher, and she seemed to indicate that around the HSK5 level, there is a sharp increase in the number of 成语 that the student is required to ...
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72 views

Alternatives to say "顾名思义"

I am reading a book to explain factorial. n! = n*(n-1)*(n-2)....3*2*1 Decompose word factorial阶乘, I am enlightened to see its meaning literally. Since Factor is 乘数, So factorial should 阶乘. How ...
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2answers
109 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 ...
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How can I use the idiom 米已成炊 to explain “once I've told you, I can't un-tell you”?

I wrote the following: 我愿意告诉你我的故事,可是后来就跟米已成炊一样。 Basically, it was intended as a warning: I'm willing to tell you my story, but afterwards I can't un-tell you. My Chinese teacher indicated she ...
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88 views

What kinds of things can be described as 丰富多彩 (richly colorful), and how do I describe them?

A while back, my teacher asked me to use 丰富多彩 ("richly colorful") in a sentence, but it wasn't received particularly well. The relevant part in my writing was ...丰富多彩地环境 and she said 各种颜色 was ...
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1answer
80 views

“Big Fish & Begonia” 大鱼海棠

I just saw the movie, and I can’t understand why it has this title. First of all, A whale is not a fish! Is the word translated as “fish” used for all swimming animals? Even if that’s the case, any ...
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3answers
111 views

Good translation for song title “二泉映月”?

I’m working on materials for a concert of Chinese music, with an audience of general people here in Texas (not for the Chinese community). So, I want meaningful and lucid titles in English along with ...
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87 views

are there region specific idioms?

I am trying to learn more about idioms. I was told this might be a good place to ask this question, so please delete this if this isn't good for this exchange. Are there widely used idioms specific to ...
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2answers
79 views

How widespread is the idiom 蘑菇?

I have seen the word for mushroom [蘑菇, mógū] to be an action such as dilly dally. Is this an inherent idiom in the written language apparent across a large spectrum of dialect, whereas the word ...
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2answers
1k views

Usage of 能骗就骗 (if you can cheat, then cheat)

There is a Youtube video by a popular Youtube blogger who lives in China and is married to a Chinese woman, and he says in that video that the Chinese language has the idiom 能骗就骗 ("if you can cheat, ...
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1answer
120 views

Idiom, common phrase crossword puzzle

I made this for fun, please try to solve it. I will post the answer later if no one can solve the whole puzzle. Suggestions on improving the hints are welcome. Since I know the answer, it is hard ...
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1answer
70 views

Is it a solvable Idiom Crossword Puzzle?

Native Chinese speakers should be able to solve this puzzle. Just want to know if the hints I give are too hard or too easy. And how long it take for you to solve it. Shock heaven and move earth ...
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1answer
85 views

how to translate the idiom 阴阳怪气?

Some has translated it into "say something with sarcasm", but it lost the connotation of the literal meaning of this idiom, the strange, unnatural, ugly-sounding and a bit sissy tone.
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1answer
257 views

Why “mistreat” is translated as “三顿饭” by Google translate?

In Google translate, one of the Chinese translations of “mistreat” is “三顿饭”: What does “三顿饭” have anything to do with "mistreat"? Is it an idiom?
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4answers
122 views

Is 想必一定 a wrong usage?

There are many example sentences (763,000). Such as 你这么成熟懂事,想必一定没人疼你. Intuitively I think it's fluent. But think carefully, 想必 means "presumably, most probably," is this wrong?
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2answers
157 views

Is “空时间” a valid phrase in chinese? If not, why not?

For example, "你有没有空时间呢"? In my intuition, 空时间 is most likely a physics terminology (though it isn't).
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1answer
67 views

What is this proverb?

I met someone who told me a proverb which in English read as follows: Wake up late and you lose the morning. Wake up early and you lose the whole day. She repeated it in Mandarin very quickly ...
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4answers
338 views

Meaning of 上不上下不下

What does 上不上下不下 mean as an idiom? (Not the riddle) Here is the sentence where the phrase came from. 可惜,她越是这样,楚野就越是觉得被一根刺卡在喉咙处,上不上下不下,非常的不爽。
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2answers
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'To revise for an exam' idiom

In English, its natural to say the following sentence: 'I will revise for my exam.' In the above case, it could be argued that the word 'for' is being used as an idiom since you are revising for ...
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2answers
151 views

How to say “it's a function of …” in Chinese?

The algebra analogy "it's a function of X" seems commonly used in daily conversations in English but it's rare to say "X是Y的函数" in non-mathematics context in Chinese. What would be ...
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766 views

Is 不 A 不 B a grammatical structure like 又 A 又 B?

I ran across 不知不觉 the other day. If I use MDBG to look up c:不*不* I see there are many idioms with that format. Can I use it with any verbs (?) or is it only part of fixed expressions?
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Selling it as soon as you've bought it — Chinese expression

In college, I had just started a physics class in relativity and I was so excited that I began explaining everything I had learned to my Taiwanese roommate. Perhaps my tone was a bit too arrogant or ...
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2answers
166 views

What is the function of 便 here? And what does the sentence mean?

This is a sample sentence for 八九不离十, from 现代汉语规范词典: 不猜便罢, 若猜便猜它个八九不离十。 It uses an interesting idiom 八九不离十 which I just learnt thanks to duchinese.net. http://www.duchinese.net/lessons/E269-eight-...
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1answer
133 views

How to translate these inspirational phrases correctly?

I'm trying to make a label for my workbook but I'm not very sure how to write this phrase: If you can dream it you can do it!. Using google translate (traditional chinese) renders me this result: ...
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2answers
185 views

What does '眼观鼻鼻观心' represent? Obedience or an attempt to be invisible?

Is it more about obedience as in 'obediently looked down and listen to someone's teaching'; Or is it more about pretending to be oblivious/invisible? For example two of your bosses are fighting each ...
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2answers
108 views

What is the meaning of 妖星?

I'm trying to make sense of the word 妖星 ("demon star") which I have encountered in a Japanese phrase. This word does not appear in any Japanese or Chinese (English) dictionaries I've run across, but ...
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2answers
129 views

Are 仙草, 毒草 and 良草 broadly-used idioms?

Today I learned from a Chinese friend (a rather literate fellow) that you can use those words to describe books. Apparently: 仙草 = outstanding book, book as if made for Gods 毒草 = very poor or even ...
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1answer
79 views

The synonyms of '雨后送伞'

The phrase '雨后送伞' means unnecessary assistance. [释义] 比喻事后献殷勤。也比喻帮助不及时。 Is there better phrases or idiom to express such a context?
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3answers
240 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
262 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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1answer
132 views

你不敢吃我 What's the meaning of this?

你不敢吃我 What's the meaning of this? Is it something like don't fool me?
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1answer
45 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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1answer
233 views

Is the 边~边 the synonym for 一边~一边?

Is the following sentence: 并与当地青年一同BBQ,边烧烤边交流。 Is the 边~边 the synonym for 一边~一边, which mean "doing ~ while doing ~"? Or is there any difference?