Chinese Proverbs

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Annotation And Connotations
Insist on venturing into the mountain knowing well that it's the haunt of tigers.
(Chinese original: 明知山有虎,偏向虎山行 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Míngzhī shān yǒu hǔ, piān xiàng hǔshān xíng.)
Insist on doing something despite the danger it presents. Knowing that swine flu hit Queens, NYC hard, I went to the Big Apple to attend a conference.
Clear conscience never fears midnight knocking.
(Chinese original: 没做亏心事,不怕鬼叫门 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Méi zuò kuīxīn shì, bù pà guǐ jiào mén.)
If you've done nothing wrong, you don't have to worry about any retributions.
A hat-wearing macaque
(Chinese original: 沐猴而冠; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Mù-hóu-ér-guàn.)
Someone with looks but not quality
The son may be calous to his mother's hardship, but the mother always cares every bit of his pains.
(Chinese original: 母苦儿未见,儿劳母不安 Chinese Pinyin: Audio Mǔ kǔ ér wèi jiàn, ér láo mǔ bù ān.)
It is too late for a galloping horse to stop at a clip; it is useless for a sinking boat to be mended in the middle of a river.
(Chinese original: 马到悬崖收缰晚,船到江心补漏迟; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Mǎ dào xuányá shōu jiāng wǎn, chuán dào jiāngxīn bǔ lòu chí.)
Usually it is to advise people to quit bad habbits and behaviors before it is too late.
Fighting a wolf with a flex stalk - either side is afraid of the other.
(Chinese original: 麻杆打狼—两头怕; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Mágǎn dǎ láng—liǎngtóu pà.)
Each party is fearful of the other: the wolf thought the stalk could be a fatal weapon while the person fears the consequence of his trick seen through by the wolf. Are you ever caught in a situation like this?
Return the purchased jewelry but keep its casket.
(Chinese original: 买椟还珠;Chinese Pinyin: Audio Mǎi-dú-huán-zhū.)
Whoever does this must lack judgment, appreciating things of lesser value.
A horse cannot gain weight if not fed with extra fodder during the night; a man cannot become wealthy without earnings apart from his regular salaries.
(Chinese original: 马无夜草不肥,人无外快不富;Chinese Pinyin: Audio Mǎ wú yè cǎo bù féi, rén wú wàikuài bù fù.)
One needs to find income beyond his regular salary. This proverb is often used by those who try to justify their efforts to get more wealth through unlawful means.
Like ants gnawing at a bone.
(Chinese original: 蚂蚁啃骨头; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Mǎyǐ kěn gǔtou.)
A metaphor describing a situation where people trying an overwhelmingly big task by doing bit by bit with perseverance.
There's no insurmountable Mount of Flames.
(Chinese original: 没有过不去的火焰山; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Méiyǒu guò bù qù de huǒyànshān.)
There are no insurmountable difficulties.
If people no longer fears death, how can you threaten to kill them?
(Chinese original: 民不畏死,奈何以死惧之; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Mín bù wèi sǐ, nàihé yǐ sǐ jù zhī?)
It is easy to dodge a spear that comes in front of you but hard to avoid an arrow shot from behind.
(Chinese original: 明枪易躲,暗箭难防; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Míng qiāng yì duǒ, àn jiàn nán fáng.)
It is easier to guard against the obvious.
Honing your hatchet will not delay your effort of wood cutting.
(Chinese original: 磨刀不误砍柴工; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Mó dāo bú wù kǎn chái gōng.)
It seems to take some time to do a good preparation for doing, but it pays off in the long run.
Trees have already been made into a boat.
(Chinese original: 木已成舟; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Mù-yǐ-chéng-zhōu.)
(Similar proverb: Rice is already cooked. 生米煮成饭: Audio Shēng mǐ zhǔ chéng fàn.)
What is done cannot be undone.


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Last updated: October 13, 2014