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
64 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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100 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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203 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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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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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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53 views

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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60 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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“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
62 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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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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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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380 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
62 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
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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
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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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133 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”: Why does “三顿饭” have anything to do with "mistreat"? It is not an idiom, is it?
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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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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
65 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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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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'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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146 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 an idiomatic ...
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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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119 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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95 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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108 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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82 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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123 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
76 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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197 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
238 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
121 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
42 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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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?
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Plural marker 们 in 哥们(儿)

Can someone explain why 们 is used in the word 哥们 to mean buddy/dude, even if it's referred to a single person? Would it be possible to add 们 to any other family name, like 妈们,姐们,爸爸们 etc.? And if ...
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What's the reverse version of the saying “既要做婊子,又要立牌坊”?

The saying 既要做婊子,又要立牌坊 is used derogatorily to describe someone who does bad things but want to have good reputation. Does it have a reversed or non-derogatory version which is also a saying or idiom? ...
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What does 骑在 someone's 头上 mean?

I saw this on Jukuu.com: 我并不否认,你姐姐老是象个暴君似的骑在我们头上。 I don't deny that your sister comes the mogul over us, now and then. Wǒ bìng bù fǒurèn, nǐ jiějiě lǎo shì xiàng gè bàojūn shì de qí zài wǒmen ...
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What does 尽信书不如无书 mean?

After pointing out the many bugs in an online Chinese "how to give a presentation in English" webpage, one of my colleagues wrote this on WeChat: 尽信书不如无书 Jìn xìn shū bùrú wú shū Question: What ...
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308 views

“Speak Greek” in Chinese

In English, when someone says something incomprehensible, one can say they "spoke Greek". In Italian, the equivalente is "parlare Arabo" (lit. speak Arabic). What about Chinese? Is there a similar ...
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134 views

The meaning of idiom '急火攻心'

Example: 人们会急火攻心 Does it mean 'heart was attacked with anxiety/anxiousness'? Therefore in the example it would mean people's heart would be anxious?
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51 views

Help checking the correct meaning of '遐想连篇'

I'm not sure whether the phrase has a typo in it or not because I couldn't find the proper translation from MDBG, Ichacha or Ichiba. However, I did find an example: 中国的5000年悠久历史、丰富多样的风俗文化以及无处不在的神秘感,...
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675 views

What does the phrase 'holding in the palm of hands' in chinese mean?

I've read that phrase in a lot of stories and in a lot of different form; could you tell me the official form of that phrase (or maybe idiom) and its meaning?
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68 views

Can anyone explain to me what “热闹的嬉笑怒骂外加弹唱小曲” means?

I'm really confused about what the idiom '嬉笑怒骂' in this sentence means.
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Is swapping words within an idiom often done in chinese language? (example: “万绿丛中一点红” to “万红丛中一点绿”)

For example: "万绿丛中一点红" : a single red among ten thousand of green/a single red flower in the midst of thick foliage I've found some people wrote "万红丛中一点绿" (a single green among ten thousand of red). ...
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278 views

How did 马马虎虎 come to mean so-so?

Why does the above phrase (马马虎虎- lit. Horse horse tiger tiger) mean so-so or moderate? Curious as to how animals can represent expressions
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5answers
336 views

What are five most useful or common Chengyu phrases in the workplace?

I know there are thousands of chengyu (成语) (4 character proverbs in Chinese) out there, so obviously I would not have time to learn them all. Could I have 5 of these chengyu from you? (bonus marks if ...
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225 views

Why it is called 没大没小?

It is a commonly used idiom that means rude; no respect for one's elders. However, I wonder why it is called 没大没小. I would like to know its origin.
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211 views

How to translate 谈情说爱 in English?

The definition from Yabla (which is prettier in Ninchanese ): to discuss passion and talk of love (idiom); to express love with terms of endearment billing and cooing And to translate the sentence: ...
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687 views

For 錢應該花在刀口上, 錢 and 刀口 are so different things… why associate 錢 with 刀口?

For 錢應該花在刀口上。刀口…… and spending money. How is spending money related to 刀口?