Chinese Proverbs

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Search a proverb using English, Chinese characters or Pinyin:


Almost grieved to death.
(Chinese original: 悲痛欲绝 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bēi-tòng-yù-jué.)
You can't expect to catch a cub without venturing into a tigress's den.
(Chinese original: 不入虎穴焉得虎子 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bù rù hǔxué, yān dé hǔzǐ.)
Risky as it is, if you are afraid of taking chances, there is no way you can succeed.
Eight Immortals cross the sea, each employing his or her theurgy.
(Chinese original: 八仙过海,各显其能 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bāxiān guò hǎi, gè xiǎn qí néng.)
The Eight Immortals (Baxian) are legendary, each has a special miraculous power. The proverb describes a situation where people bring their diverse talents into play in accomplishing a task.
Seeing once is better than hearing a hundred times.
(Chinese original: 百闻不如一见 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bǎi wén bù rú yí jiàn.)
Seeing is believing.
Display one's proficiency of axe in front of the master carpenter.
(Chinese original: 班门弄斧 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bān-mén-nòng-fǔ.)
Display one's minimal skill before an expert.
Lift a stone only to drop on one's own feet.
(Chinese original: 搬起石头砸自己的脚 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bān qǐ shítóu zá zìjǐ de jiǎo.)
Isn't it similar to "Shoot your gun at your own foot"?
A bottle half filled (with vinegar) tends to rock.
(Chinese original: 半瓶醋—乱晃荡 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bàn píng cù—luàn huàngdang.)
The moral of the proverb is something like "Still water runs deep." When someone has a lot of learning, he or she still wants to learn more; only those who know a little brag a lot.
Putting out a fire while holding firewood.
(Chinese original: 抱薪救火Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bào-xīn-jiù-huǒ.)
It only made the fire worse. Improper solution of a problem does not solve but instead aggravate the problem.
Mistaking the reflection of a bow in a cup for a snake.
(Chinese original: 杯弓蛇影 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bēi-gōng-shé-yǐng.)
A guest got sick after he was scared by what he had seen in a wine vessel at his friend's home. The snake he had seen was actually the shadow of a bow hanging on the wall. This proverb asks us not to scare ourselves with something we don't know.
How can you put out a fire set on a cart-load of firewood with only a cup of water?
(Chinese original: 杯水车薪 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bēi-shuǐ-chē-xīn.)
It is useless to apply minor remedies to a major problem.
A clumsy bird that flies first will get to the forest earlier.
(Chinese original: 笨鸟先飞早入林 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bèn niǎo xiān fēi zǎo rù lín.)
Usually as an expression of modesty and humbleness, it means that one who is slow in learning should make extra efforts.
You have no idea how much rice and fuel cost without being the head of a household.
(Chinese original: 不当家不知柴米贵 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bù dāngjiā bù zhī chái mǐ guì.)
It's hard for outsiders to understand how much an insider is going through. You have to be in his or her shoes.
you can't appreciate the love of your parents without having children of your own.
(Chinese original: 不养儿不知父母恩 Chinese Pinyin: Audio bù yǎng ér bù zhī fùmǔ ēn.)
This may not be true but it is what the Chinese think traditionally.

Shed no tears until seeing the coffin.
(Chinese original: 不见棺材不落泪 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bù jiàn guāncái bù luò lèi.)

Will not give up an inevitably losing battle until the last minute. It is a burlesque of the stubbornness and stupidity of people who would not stop until it is too late
Not giving up until one reaches the Yellow River.
(Chinese original: 不到黄河不死心: Audio Bù dào Huánghé bù sǐxīn.)
Same as above
We are not so much concerned when you are slow as when you come to a halt.
(Chinese original: 不怕慢,就怕站 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Bú pà màn, jiù pà zhàn.)
As in the case of the race between the hare and the tortoise.


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Last updated: October 13, 2014