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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4answers
3k views

What does 狗改不了吃屎 mean?

What does 狗改不了吃屎 mean? I think it is a proverb. Something do to with god? In my research, is it similar to 江山易改,本性难移?
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7answers
679 views

How to say something “gets old fast”?

Describing something as 'getting old fast' is a very common phrase in English to describe something that as tedious, but it has the nuance that the thing may not be boring initially. Is there a ...
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6answers
124 views

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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3answers
152 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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2answers
40 views

另當別論 : 另, 別 superfluous? What does 當 add?

ABC Chinese–English Comprehensive Dictionary (2003), p 561. I can't access the "slightly revised through July 2005" ed. I also quote Wiktionary. Why both 另 and 別? Aren't they redundant? ...
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0answers
27 views

Chinese idiom puzzle 8

Please solve the following puzzle Describe a woman's husband is not good (nowadays refers to get together with a bad partner) 語出《詩.王風.中谷有蓷》 A live and death matter Everyone has one 遏後語 "年晚煎堆&...
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3answers
58 views

Chinese Idiom puzzle 7

Please solve the following puzzle To win a war, you need XX, YY, and 人和, What are XX and YY? All formed by nature, no traces of man-made carvings One hand covers the sky. ( Describes someone use ...
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3answers
56 views

Chinese Idiom puzzle 6

Please solve the following puzzle Simultaneously raise the Combat capability and reduce the number of soldiers of the army When living is so painful, it is better off being dead To fight a battle ...
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1answer
35 views

Chinese Idiom puzzle 5

Please solve the following puzzle You are not a gentleman if you don't take revenge for a wrong against you - 見:《施公案》六四回 People in the world are all brothers - 出自:先秦·孔子《論語·顏淵》 Give no quarters ...
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2answers
103 views

Chinese Idiom puzzle 4

Please solve the following puzzle The country is peaceful, citizens are happy. - 出自宋·吴自牧《梦梁录·山川神》 A talented man and a pretty lady (a good match) - 出自唐·李隐《潇湘录·呼延冀》。 Heros show themselves when the ...
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1answer
29 views

New idiom related to surveillance: People do things, the sky watches

I'm trying to find information (including the original Chinese) on an idiom that seems to be gaining popularity recently, related to surveillance (unsure whether this is a traditional phrase or not). ...
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1answer
44 views

Idiom, common phrase crossword puzzle challenge 3

Please solve the following puzzle 語出《易經. 繫辭下》It means that when things develop to the extreme and exhaustion, they must seek changes. After the changes, they will be accessible and suitable for needs....
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1answer
69 views

Idiom, common phrase crossword puzzle challenge 2

Please solve this puzzle A famous Chinese general with a red face Too greedy; take on more than one can handle Extremely insightful Going back on one's words Soul flying out of the sky ...
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2answers
184 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
58 views

Idiom, common phrase crossword puzzle challenge

Please solve the following puzzle Recklessly run around Make things up A big mistake is made Better be independent King among Kings buried talent Become a bandit To do a good job, you must ...
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4answers
168 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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3answers
1k views

What does 降维攻击 mean?

The idiom 降维攻击 is quite popular in Chinese chatting rooms. Interestingly, it's used almost in any context. What's the origin and meaning of it?
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1answer
196 views

How did 黑鍋 “black wok” semantically shift to mean “blame for a crime”?

https://chinese.stackexchange.com/a/38716 spurred this question. 黑鍋 - Wiktionary (literally) black wok (figuratively) blame for a crime How did "black wok" semantically shift to mean ...
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3answers
213 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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6answers
177 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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3answers
227 views

Meaning of 滾水 as Cantonese idiom

滾水 (Cantonese gwan2 seoi2) is used (often in restaurant kitchens) as a warning. It literally means "boiling water", but I think it indicates that something potentially dangerous or fragile ...
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3answers
310 views

「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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Why did my Chinese teacher describe Donald Trump as 口吐莲花?

In my regular Chinese class yesterday, I was discussing Donald Trump with my teacher, and she described him as 口吐莲花 (kǒutǔliánhuā). As always I didn't fully understand the particulars of the ...
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1answer
72 views

What does 跳马猴子 mean?

The term literally indicates some kind of monkey jockey riding a racehorse. I’m guessing it means “lunatic”. I can’t find it in any dictionary. Any ideas?
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2answers
106 views

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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4answers
157 views

「批烂斗臭」这个四字词语,除了「批评」强调什么?

为了练习阅读,我有时候看小报新闻因为内容比较简单。在下面关于“逆向种族主义”的文章中我遇到了一个四字词语:「批烂斗臭」。 当然,并不是所有西方人都认同这场文化层面的“革命”。很多保守派的白人就认为这场“革命”是偏激和粗暴的,是在通过树立种种“政治正确”的言论牢笼,逼迫人们去接受“革命者”的观念。而倘若拒不服从,就遭到网络暴力的攻击,被“批烂斗臭”,甚至会失去工作和前途。 美国白人终于喊出这个词,...
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831 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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5answers
38k views

What is the exact meaning of 吃豆腐, and where does the expression come from?

I'm not talking about eating tofu, but the expression that means something more like taking advantage of someone. What exactly does 吃豆腐 mean, and where does this expression come from?
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5answers
136 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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2answers
132 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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2answers
174 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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3answers
139 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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2answers
621 views

Chinese idiom to describe a long line

What is the idiom to describe a really long line of people (waiting in line to buy tickets, for example)? I know one of the words is 龙. I tried googling it, but couldn't find it.
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1answer
150 views

Idiom, common phrase crossword puzzle [closed]

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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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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2answers
226 views

What does “杀牛” mean in this context?

In the story I'm reading for class, a man meets a woman online and she asks him what sign he's born under (属什么). He says 牛, and she says "我是杀牛的." He recounts, "就这么两句话一下子就把我打动了." So they arrange to ...
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6answers
281 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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1answer
263 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
233 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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1answer
61 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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2answers
97 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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2answers
467 views

Correct use of 惹人心烦: is 然而我不要惹人心烦 a suitable way to say you don't want to be a pain in the neck?

I am not sure if I used the idiom 惹人心烦 correctly. This is the sentence I used: 好啊,然而我不要惹人心烦。 Would that be a good use of it or is there a better way of saying you don't want to be a pain in the ...
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3answers
93 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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4answers
368 views

Pinyin of 車 in idioms

In Cantonese, 車 has two pronunciations: [ce1] and [geoi1]. In Mandarin, 車 also has two different pinyin: [che1] and [ju1]. [ce1] corresponds to [che1]. [geoi1] corresponds to [ju1]. In most idioms,...
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3answers
72 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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3answers
74 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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4answers
83 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
129 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
303 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 ...