Chinese Proverbs

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Search a proverb using English, Chinese characters or Pinyin:


Conjure up clouds with one turn of one's hand and rain with another.
(Chinese original:翻云覆雨; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Fān-yún-fù-yǔ)
To say that someone can conjure up clouds and rain with his turn of hand is to say that he is capricious or skillful at playing tricks.
A flying moth throws itself into a fire.
(Chinese original: 飞蛾投火; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Fēi-é-tóu-huǒ.)

To say one is a flying moth that throws itself into a fire is to say that he is looking for his own demise.
To be like neither a donkey nor a horse.
(Chinese original: 非驴非马; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Fēi-lǘ-fēi-mǎ.)
If something one has created is like neither animals, then it must be something awkward and laughable.
In face of evil, one would rather be a jade broken than a brick intact.
(Chinese original: 逢奸宁可玉碎,气正不求瓦全; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Féng jiān nìng kě yù suì, qì zhèng bù qiú wǎ quán.)
One would rather die than surrender.
On the same boat in a tempest.
(Chinese original: 风雨同舟; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Fēng-yǔ-tóng-zhōu.)
Going through hardships together.
Burn a forest to farm and drain a pond to fish.
(Chinese original: 焚林而畋,竭泽而渔; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Fén-lín-ěr-tián, jié-zé-ěr-yú.)
Isn't this what some of us doing today to our environment against the 3000-year old proverbial warning? In many other aspects we are also prone to such mistakes: in trying to achieve an end by all means, we wittingly or unwittingly ignore the consequences.
(As rare as ) phoenix feather and unicorn horns.
(Chinese original: 凤毛麟角; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Fèng-máo-lín-jiǎo.)
According to Chinese legends, phoenix's feather and unicorn's horns are the rarest things one can find in the world.
Remove firewood from under a pot.
(Chinese original: 釜底抽薪; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Fǔ-dǐ-chōu-xīn.)
Solve a problem thoroughly.
Water spilled can never be retrieved.
(Chinese original: 覆水难收; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Fù-shuǐ-nán-shōu.)
Things have developed to a degree that there is no turning back.
Wade through boiling water and scorching flame.
(Chinese original: 赴汤蹈火; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Fù-tāng-dǎo-huǒ.)
If one can do this, he is courageous enough to do anything.
Give it to the Yangtze that rambles east to the sea.
(Chinese original: 付诸东流; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Fù zhū dōng liú.)
When you give something to the Yangtze that brings it to the waters, then everything you have been doing is in vain.


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Last updated: October 13, 2014