20 Chinese Idioms And Their Meaning

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Idioms are an integral part of Chinese language and culture, often used to convey deeper meanings and wisdom in a concise and poetic manner. Here are a few Chinese idioms along with their meanings:

1. 马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhūhū) 

Literally meaning "horse horse tiger tiger." 

It is used to describe something that is done or handled in a careless or mediocre manner.

2. 一箭双雕 (yī jiàn shuāng diāo) 

Literally meaning "shoot two hawks with one arrow." 

It refers to achieving two objectives with a single action or solving two problems at once.

3. 亡羊补牢 (wáng yáng bǔ láo) 

Literally meaning "mend the pen after sheep are lost." 

It advises to take remedial measures or precautions after a mishap has occurred to prevent further losses or problems.

4. 守株待兔 (shǒu zhū dài tù) 

Literally meaning "wait by the stump for the rabbit." 

It describes someone who idly waits for opportunities to come without making any effort or taking action.

5. 纸上谈兵 (zhǐ shàng tán bīng) 

Literally meaning "discussing war on paper." 

It refers to discussing or theorizing about a subject without any practical experience or knowledge.

6. 画蛇添足 (huà shé tiān zú) 

Literally meaning "to draw legs on a snake." 

It describes an unnecessary or excessive addition to something that is already perfect or complete.

7. 雪上加霜 (xuě shàng jiā shuāng) 

Literally meaning "adding frost on top of snow." 

It describes a situation where things go from bad to worse, or when an additional difficulty is added to an already challenging circumstance.

8. 掩耳盗铃 (yǎn ěr dào líng) 

Literally meaning "cover one's ears while stealing a bell." 

It refers to deceiving oneself or attempting to deceive others while being oblivious to the fact that the truth is evident.

9. 狐假虎威 (hú jiǎ hǔ wēi) 

Literally meaning "a fox borrowing the tiger's fierceness." 

It describes someone who relies on the power or authority of others to intimidate or deceive.

10. 望洋兴叹 (wàng yáng xīng tàn) 

Literally meaning "gaze at the ocean and sigh." 

It describes a feeling of helplessness or frustration when facing a challenging or overwhelming situation.

11. 爱屋及乌 (ài wū jí wū) 

Literally meaning "love the house and its crows." 

It describes the idea of extending one's love or affection for someone to include everything associated with them, even their faults or shortcomings.

12. 杯弓蛇影 (bēi gōng shé yǐng) 

Literally meaning "seeing a bow and mistaking it for a snake." 

It refers to being overly suspicious or fearful, seeing threats or danger where none exist.

13. 虎头蛇尾 (hǔ tóu shé wěi) 

Literally meaning "a tiger's head with a snake's tail." 

It describes something that starts off promising or powerful but ends weakly or ineffectively.

14. 画龙点睛 (huà lóng diǎn jīng) 

Literally meaning "adding the eyes to the dragon." 

It refers to adding the final touch or crucial detail to make something perfect or complete.

15. 卧薪尝胆 (wò xīn cháng dǎn) 

Literally meaning "lying on the firewood and tasting gall." 

It describes enduring hardships and making sacrifices in order to achieve a goal or seek revenge.

16. 虎口余生 (hǔ kǒu yú shēng) 

Literally meaning "surviving in the tiger's mouth." 

It refers to narrowly escaping from a dangerous or life-threatening situation.

17. 闭门造车 (bì mén zào chē) 

Literally meaning "building a carriage behind closed doors." 

It describes a situation where someone tries to accomplish a task without seeking or considering outside advice or input, often resulting in a flawed or impractical outcome.

18. 井底之蛙 (jǐng dǐ zhī wā) 

Literally meaning "a frog at the bottom of a well." 

It describes someone who has a limited or narrow perspective due to lack of exposure or experience.

19. 牛刀小试 (niú dāo xiǎo shì) 

Literally meaning "testing a sharp knife on small things." 

It refers to testing one's skills or abilities on a small-scale or less important task before tackling something bigger or more challenging.

20. 隔岸观火 (gé àn guān huǒ) 

Literally meaning "watching a fire from the other side of the river." 

It describes being indifferent or detached when others are in trouble or facing difficulties.

These idioms provide unique insights into Chinese culture and language, often reflecting wisdom, experiences, and observations of life.

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