Chinese Idiom Glossary

English Meaning/ Definition of Chinese idioms and phrases that appear in novels

三天打鱼,两天晒网Unable to persevere in work and study
人在屋檐下 When people are inferior to others in power and opportunities, they have to bow their heads and give in
牡丹花下死,做鬼也风流The consequence is death at most, regardless if you are a ghost, you will be happy, contented!
留着青山在,不怕没柴烧While there is life, there is hope
瘦死的骆驼比马大People who have special expertise in one aspect, even if they suddenly become poor in this aspect, are better than some people who have just come out in this aspect (just started in the field)
青出一蓝而胜于蓝Pupil surpasses the teacher
有过之无不及 与 有过之而无不及Not to be inferior in any aspects
见人说人话,见鬼说鬼话Say different things to different people
打是亲,骂是爱Parents strict teaching style is out of love for the kid
子不教父子过It is the father’s fault for not teaching the child properly
不見棺材不掉淚To refuse to be convinced until one is faced with the grim reality
百口莫辩Even a hundred mouthes can’t explain it properly
天外有天,人外有人Moral that one shouldn’t be too arrogant as there’s always better out there
天不從人願Things don’t go as people would like
欲将取之,必先予之If you want to seize something, then you have to temporarily pay the price to induce the other party to relax their vigilance, and then looking for opportunities to take it.
死道友不死贫道Hurting others for your own benefit (better for you to die than me)
长得虎头虎脑Looks healthy, simple and straightforward
闻新人笑,不闻旧人哭When someone only listens to a new person and focuses on them, but ignore people from the past
势同水火Two sides opposing like fire and water
鸡飞又狗跳Great disorder/ turmoil
无事献殷勤,非奸即盗One who is unaccountably solicitous/ hiding evil intentions
酒廊饭袋Someone who only eats and drinks and has no ability
只许州官放火,不许百姓点灯Powerful people can do whatever they want, while ordinary people are restricted to legitimate activities
情人眼里总是出西施If you like them, no matter how they look, you would think they are beautiful
三岁看到老One can see how their adulthood will be when they are three years old
夜长梦多Undue delay may bring trouble
顺水推舟To take advantage of the situation for one’s own benefit; to go with the flow

Meanings of Chinese slang that appear in novels


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