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Home Chinese Idiom 瓜田李下 (guā tián lǐ xià)
瓜田李下 (guā tián lǐ xià)
Learn Chinese - Chinese Idiom


Emperor Wen of the Tang dynasty (hàn cháo 汉朝) was a very democratic ruler. Before doing anything, he would always ask the opinion of his ministers. Once he asked Liou Gung-chiuan how the people felt about the government. Liou Gung-chiuan respectfully answered, "Concerning your sending Guo Min to be in charge of Bin-ning, some people are in favor and others are not."

Emperor Wen appeared very unhappy, and said, "Guo Min is an upright and law-abiding official; of course he is qualified for the job." Liou Gung-chuian agreed, but added, "The people who are criticizing you think that he bribed you with his two head and said, "They've misunderstood. Guo Min's daughters came to the palace to pay their respects to the empress dowager, not to act as my concubines." Liou Gung-chuian replied, "Yes, but this is like the suspicion aroused by pulling on one's shoe in a melon patch or adjusting one's cap under a plum tree. How can you make all the people understand?"

This original two-phrase saying was later shortened to "In a Melon Patch, or Under a Plum Tree." It means that if a person pulls on his shoe in a melon patch, other people are likely to think he is stealing melons; and if he adjusts his cap under a plum tree, other people are likely to think he is picking plums. Thus, it refers to being in suspicious circumstances or surroundings.

唐朝唐文宗时,大书法家柳公权忠良耿直,能言善谏,官职担任工部侍郎。当时有个叫郭宁的官员把两个女儿送进宫中,于是皇帝就派郭宁到邮宁(现在的陕西邮 县)做官,人们对这件事议论纷纷。皇帝就以这件事来问柳公权:“郭宁是太皇太后的继父,官封大将军,当官以来没有什么过失,现在只让他当邮宁这个小小地方 的主官,又有甚么不妥呢?”柳公权说:“议论的人都以为郭宁是因为进献两个女儿入宫,才得到这个官职的。”唐文宗说:“郭宁的两个女儿是进宫陪太后的,并 不是献给朕的。”柳公权回答:“瓜田李下的嫌疑,人们哪能都分辨得清呢?”


瓜田李下 (guā tián lǐ xià)
【翻译】Pulling On One's Shoe In a Melon Patch, Or Adjusting One's Cap Under A Plum Tree.


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