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Chinese Idiom
惊弓之鸟 (jīng gōng zhī niǎo)


In the Warring States Period (zhàn guó 战国), there was a man in the State of Wei (wèi guó 魏国) called Geng Lei. One day he said to the king: 'I can shoot down birds by simply plucking my bowstring.' When the king expressed doubt, Geng Lei pointed his bow at a wild goose flying in the sky, twanged the bowstring, and the goose fell to the ground. Geng Lei said, 'This goose has been hurt in the past. Hearing the twang of the bowstring, it assumed that it was doomed. So it simply gave up trying to live.'This idiom means that if one has been frightened in the past ones will may become paralyzed in a similar situation.

精卫填海 (jīng wèi tián hǎi)

altNvwa (nǚ wā女娃) was the youngest daughter of Yan-Di (yàn dì 炎帝). She was lovely and vivacious, and liked to adventure. One day, Nvwa walked on the coast of the East Sea, and she saw the sea was so blue and placid that she wanted to swim. However, when she swam far from the coast, the sea suddenly became large waves rolling in immense surges. Nvwa then heard the bluster of the dragonish Sea-God. Frightened, She tried to return the coast, but her puny body was not able to resist the strength and power of the billowing waves. Nvwa unfortunately drowned.

九牛一毛 (jiǔ niú yī máo)

Li Ling was a great general during the time of emperor Han Wu-di (hàn wǔ dì汉武帝). He was a very good fighter, and he won every battle. One time, however, Li Ling's troops were so hopelessly outnumbered by the Huns that although they fought bravely, the whole army was soon taken captive.

刻舟求剑 (kè zhōu qiú jiàn)


A man from the state chu was crossing the river. in the boat, his sword fell into the water by his carelessness. imediately he made a mark on the boat.“this is where my sword fell off.”he said. when the boat stopped, he jumped into the water to look for his sword at the place where he marked the boat. the boat had moved but the sword had not. is this not a foolish way to look for a sword?

空中楼阁 (kōng zhōng lóu gé)

altA rich man asked an architect to build a three-story house for him. When the first story was finished, the rich man said to the architect: "I want only the third story; not the first and second stories." The architect asked, "But without the first and second stories, how can I build the third story?" Shaking his head, he packed up his things, and left.

This idiom indicates an unrealistic or impractical plan or theory.

口蜜腹剑 (kǒu mì fù jiàn)

altLi Lin-fu was a prime minister of China during the T'ang dynasty (táng cháo 唐朝, 618—907AD). He was good at both calligraphy and painting, but had a crafty and sinister personality which made him disliked by everyone. Li Lin-fu would bribe the palace eunuchs and concubines to tell him what the emperor liked, and then would immediately go prepare that thing for the emperor. The emperor was therefore very fond of Li Lin-fu, and trusted him unduly.

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