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Proverbs & Idioms
Proverbs Guide
Tradition Chinese
斬草不除根,春風吹又生
Simplified Chinese
斩草不除根,春风吹又生
Transliteration
zhǎn cǎo bù chú gēn, chūn fēng chuī yoù shēng
Literally
If the roots are not removed during weeding, the weeds will grow again when the winds of Spring blows.
Meaning
We should finish a task entirely, or the effort might be wasted.
Tradition Chinese
在家不會迎賓客,出外方知少主人
Simplified Chinese
在家不会迎宾客,出外方知少主人
Transliteration
zài jiā bù huì yíng bīn kè, chū wài fāng zhī shǎo zhǔ rén
Literally
If a person does not treat guests properly when athome, few will wish to entertain him when he is away from home.
Meaning
Relations between people are reciprocal; others will treat you in the way you treat them.
Tradition Chinese
遠水不救近火,遠親不如近鄰
Simplified Chinese
远水不救近火,远亲不如近邻
Transliteration
yuǎn shuǐ bù jiù jìn huǒ, yuǎn qīn bù rú jìn lín
Literally
Distant water can't put out a nearby fire, and a distant relative is not as helpful as a close neighbor.
Meaning
A lofty ideal often cannot solve an urgent problem, just as a close relative who lives far away is not as valuable as a neighbor an emergency.
Tradition Chinese
與君一夕話,勝讀十年書
Simplified Chinese
与君一夕话,胜读十年书
Transliteration
yǔ jūn yī xí huà, shèng dú shí nián shū
Literally
Chatting with you for one night is more profitable than studying for ten years.
Meaning
It contains a high form of praise, the effect that one is deeply impressed and greatly enlightened by someone else's conversation.
Tradition Chinese
玉不琢,不成器
Simplified Chinese
玉不琢,不成器
Transliteration
yù bù zhuó, bù chéng qì
Literally
Jade must be chiseled before it can be considered a gem.
Meaning
A person needs training and discipline to build character.
Tradition Chinese
有緣千里來相會,無緣對面不相逢
Simplified Chinese
有缘千里来相会,无缘对面不相逢
Transliteration
yǒu yuán qiān lǐ lái xiāng huì, wú yuán duì miàn bù xiāng féng
Literally
Fate brings people together no matter how far apart they may be.
Meaning
Human relationships are decreed by Fate.
Tradition Chinese
有借有還,再藉不難
Simplified Chinese
有借有还,再借不难
Transliteration
yǒu jiè yǒu huán , zài jiè bù nán
Literally
Timely return of a loan makes it easier to borrow a second time.
Meaning
Even in such a trivial matter as a loan, keeping one’s word to the letter is necessary if one wants to have smooth dealings with others.
Tradition Chinese
一著不慎,滿盤皆輸
Simplified Chinese
一着不慎,满盘皆输
Transliteration
yì zhāo bù shèn, mǎn pán jiē shū
Literally
One careless move forfeits the whole game.
Meaning
If a crucial problem is not handled properly, the overall situation will be affected, finally leading to disaster.
Tradition Chinese
一朝被蛇咬,十年怕草繩
Simplified Chinese
一朝被蛇咬,十年怕草绳
Transliteration
yī zhāo bèi shé yǎo, shí nián pà cǎo shéng
Literally
A man once bitten by a snake will for ten years shy at a rope.
Meaning
We will be frightened of anything that looks like something which has once harmed us.
Tradition Chinese
一言既出,駟馬難追
Simplified Chinese
一言既出,驷马难追
Transliteration
yì yán jì chū, sì mǎ nán zhuī
Literally
A word spoken is an arrow let fly. A word spoken is past recalling.
Meaning
What is said cannot be unsaid. One must be careful what one says and be cautious about making promises.
Tradition Chinese
一失足成千古恨,再回首是百年身
Simplified Chinese
一失足成千古恨,再回首是百年身
Transliteration
yī shī zú chéng qiān gǔ hèn, zài huí shǒu shì bǎi nián shēn
Literally
One single slip brings eternal regret. When looking back, you will find that your whole life has passed away.
Meaning
To be careful of our behavior. One’s lifetime can hardly be more than a hundred years; a serious mistake will easily result in a lifetime’s regret.
Tradition Chinese
一人得道,雞犬升天
Simplified Chinese
一人得道,鸡犬升天
Transliteration
yì rén dé dào, jī quǎn shēng tiān
Literally
When a man is at court, all his followers are in favor.
Meaning
When a man rises in the world, all his friends and relations——even the most humble-benefit.
Tradition Chinese
一人吃飽,全家不飢
Simplified Chinese
一人吃饱,全家不饥
Transliteration
yī rén chī bǎo, quán jiā bù jī
Literally
If one member of the family eats, the rest of the family will be happy for him or her and won't be hungry.
Meaning
A person who is single. Without other family members to provide for, the person being full is the same as the family being full.
Tradition Chinese
一粒老鼠屎,壞了一鍋粥
Simplified Chinese
一粒老鼠屎,坏了一锅粥
Transliteration
yī lì lǎo shǔ shǐ, huài lè yī guō zhōu
Literally
A speck of mouse dung will spoil a whole pot of porridge.
Meaning
Even a little bit of something bad of harmful will destroy the whole of the thing it touches. So, a bad man or a bad influence, if not curbed in time, will bring about catastrophe.
Tradition Chinese
一個籬笆三個樁,一個好漢三個幫
Simplified Chinese
一个篱笆三个桩,一个好汉三个帮
Transliteration
yī gè lí bā sān gè zhuāng, yī gè hǎo hàn sān gè bāng
Literally
Just as a fence needs the support of three stakes, an able fellow needs the help of three other people.
Meaning
To fulfill any task, the support of others is necessary. Regardless how capable one is, one still needs the help of others.
Tradition Chinese
一寸光陰一寸金,寸金難買寸光陰
Simplified Chinese
一寸光阴一寸金,寸金难买寸光阴
Transliteration
yī cùn guāng yīn yī cùn jīn, cùn jīn nán mǎi cùn guāng yīn
Literally
Time is money, however, you can't buy it with money.
Meaning
Time is the most precious thing in the world.
Tradition Chinese
養兵千日,用在一時
Simplified Chinese
养兵千日,用在一时
Transliteration
yǎng bīng qiān rì, yòng zài yī shí
Literally
Armies are to be maintained in the course of long years, but to be used in the nick of time.
Meaning
Training and preparation ini normal times will enabled one to cope with emergencies.
Tradition Chinese
眼見為實,耳聽為虛
Simplified Chinese
眼见为实,耳听为虚
Transliteration
yǎn jiàn wéi shí , ěr tīng wéi xū
Literally
What you hear about may be false, but what you see is true.
Meaning
Hearsay is generally unreliable. The truth can not be obtained without close observation. Rumor should not be believed and facts speak loudest of all.
Tradition Chinese
秀才不出門,能知天下事
Simplified Chinese
秀才不出门,能知天下事
Transliteration
xiù caí bù chū mén, néng zhī tiān xià shì
Literally
Without even stepping outside his gate the scholar knows all the wide world's affairs.
Meaning
Books are treasure-houses of knowledge. If one reads a lot, he can learn a great deal of useful knowledge without bothering to seek it in the wide world.
Tradition Chinese
心正不怕影斜,腳正不怕鞋歪
Simplified Chinese
心正不怕影斜,脚正不怕鞋歪
Transliteration
xīn zhèng bú pà yǐng xié, jiǎo zhèng bú pà xié wāi
Literally
An upright man is not afraid of an oblique shadow; a straight foot is not afraid of a crooked shoe.
Meaning
This proverb tells us that an upright man fears no gossip or slander.
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