Chinese Proverbs

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Search a proverb using English, Chinese characters or Pinyin:


Beat the grass and alert the snake.
(Chinese original: 打草惊蛇Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dǎ-cǎo-jīng-ché.)
An imprudent act can alert the enemy before the right moment comes.
Fish a needle in the sea.
(Chinese original: 大海捞针 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dà-hǎi-láo-zhēn.)
Probably you have already thought of the English counterpart: “looking for a needle in a haystack."
Make a decision when a decision is called for. Hesitation only brings disaster.
(Chinese original: 当断不断,反受其乱 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dāng duàn bù duàn, fǎn shòu qí luàn.)
A spectator sees more than a player in the heat of a game.
(Chinese original: 当局者迷 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dāng-jú-zhě-mí.)
The third party usually has a better perspective than those deeply involved in a transaction.
Don't mention the word "dwarf" in front of a short person.
(Chinese original: 当着矮人别说矮话 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dāng zhe ǎi rén bié shuō ǎi huà.)
Mentioning a person's shortcomings will hurt his feelings. One needs to be tactful or diplomatic when communicating with others.
A mountain of knives and a sea of fire.
(Chinese original: 刀山火海 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dāo-shān-huǒ-hǎi.)
Extremely difficulty and dangerous situation.
Have a mouth as sharp as a dagger but a heart as soft as tofu.
(Chinese original: 刀子嘴,豆腐心 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dāozi zuǐ, dòufu xīn.)
Extremely difficulty and dangerous situation.
Respect out of fear is never genuine; reverence out of respect is never false.
(Chinese original: 打怕的人是假的,敬怕的人是真的 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dǎ pà de rén shì jiǎ de; jìng pà de rén shì zhēn de.)
It's true!
Don't hit one on the face.
(Chinese original: 打人不打脸 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dǎ rén bù dǎ liǎn.)
Disclose one's shortcomings in public would only antagonize him. Be diplomatic or tactic and he may accept your criticism.
Guard against disgrace in times of favor; be prepared for danger in times of safety.
(Chinese original: 得宠思辱,安居思危 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dé-chǒng-sī-rǔ, ān-jū-sī-wēi.)
Forget the fishing gear as soon as the fish is caught.
(Chinese original: 得鱼忘筌 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dé yú wàng quán.)
Forget the means by which the end is attained.
Turn stone into gold by the touch.
(Chinese original: 点石成金 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Diǎn-shí-chéng-jīn.)
To say one can turn iron into gold by the touch is to describe him as having superb editing skills that can turn a mediocre work into a masterpiece.
Lure a tiger down its mountain.
(Chinese original: 调虎离山 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Diào-hǔ-lí-shān.)
Lure an enemy out of its well defended base to annihilate it. This is one of Sunzi's thirty-six strategems in his Art of War.
The little bird at my backyard knows how to defend its brood with this strategy.
Dripping water can eat through a stone.
(Chinese original: 滴水穿石 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dī-shuǐ-chuān-shí.)
Perseverance will lead to success.
A girl apes her neighbor's frowning.
(Chinese original: 东施效颦 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dōngshī xiào pìn.)
A beauty is beautiful even when she was sick and frowned all day. A homely girl in her neighborhood tried to ape her frowning thinking that she could become pretty but instead made herself look uglier.
Play a harp before a cow
(Chinese original: 对牛弹琴 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Duì-niú-tán-qín.)
Similar to "Cast pearls to a swine."
A single tree makes no forest; one string makes no music.
(Chinese original: 独木不成林,单弦不成音 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dú mù bù chéng lín, dān xián bù chéng yīn.)
This proverb illustrates the significance of team work
Read critically, and you will find each word worth a thousand ounces of gold.
(Chinese original: 读书需用意,一字值千斤Chinese Pinyin: Audio Dú shū xū yòng yì, yī zì zhí qiān jīn.)
Prescribe the right medicine for a symptom.
(Chinese original: 对症下药 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Duì-zhèng-xià-yào.)
Take the right measures to tackle a problem to achieve the best result.


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Last updated: October 13, 2014