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Chinese Idiom

Chinese Idiom & Proverbs

盲人摸象 (máng rén mō xiàng)


Once upon a time there were six blind men who lived in a village in India. Every day they went to the road nearby and stood there begging. They had often heard of elephants, but they had never seen one, for being blind, how could they?

Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 March 2009 22:52
蚍蜉撼树 ( pí fú hàn shù )


Han Yu (hàn yù 韩愈)was a famous poet of the Tang Dynasty ( tàng chào 唐朝,618-907). In one of his poems he wrote, "An ant tries to topple a giant tree, ridiculously overrating its ability."This idiom later was used to indicate overestimating one's power and trying to overthrow someone much stronger.

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 June 2009 22:02
纸上谈兵 (zhǐ shàng tán bīng)


In the Warring States Period (zhàn guó 战国), the State of Zhao (zhào guó 赵国) had a famous general called Zhao She, whose son, Zhao Kuo, was very fond of reading books on military science and discussing strategy. He could recite military texts by heart, and when discussing warfare he spoke so clearly and logically that it seemed that even his father was not his match. When the State of Qin attacked the State of Zhao, the ruler of Zhao ordered Zhao Kuo to lead 400,000 men to resist the attack. But since Zhao Kuo had no practical experience of battle, he was defeated and lost his life.
Later people used this idiom to describe those who are good only at theorizing, and lack practical experience.

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 June 2009 22:12
昙花一现 (tán huā yī xiàn)


The broad-leaved epiphyllum is a beautiful and precious white flower which usually blooms at night, and its blossom only lasts for a brief period. According to a Buddhist legend, the plant blooms only on the birth of divine kings.
This idiom describes thing which disappear shortly after they come into being.

Last Updated on Saturday, 06 June 2009 22:18
病入膏肓 (bìng rù gāo huāng)

altIn the Spring and Autumn Period (chūn qiū 春秋时期,770-476 BC), King Jing of the State of Jin (Jìn guó 晋国) fell ill. One night he dreamed that the disease turned into two small figures talking beside him. One said, ‘I’m afraid the doctor will hurt us.’ The other said, ‘Do not worry. We can hide above huang and below gao. Then the doctor will be able to do nothing to us.’ The next day, having examined the king, the doctor said, ‘Your disease is incurable, I am afraid, Your Majesty. It’ above huang and below gao, where no medicine can reach.’
The idiom indicates a hopeless condition.

春秋时期,晋景公有一次得了重病,听说秦国有一个医术很高明的医生,便专程派人去请来。医生还没到。晋景公恍惚中做了个梦。梦见了两个小孩,正悄悄地在他身旁说话。一个说:“那个高明的医生马上就要来了,我看我们这回难逃了,我们躲到什么地方去呢?” 另一个小孩说道:“这没什么可怕的,我们躲到肓的上面,膏的下面,无论他怎样用药,都奈何我们不得。” 不一会儿,秦国的名医到了,立刻被请进了晋景公的卧室替晋景公治病。诊断后,那医生对晋景公说:“这病已没办法治了。疾病在肓之上,膏之下,用灸法攻治不行,扎针又达不到,吃汤药,其效力也达不到。这病是实在没法子治啦。”

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 June 2009 23:03
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