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Chinese Idiom (Beginner Level)

Chinese idioms, called (Zhōng guó chéng yŭ 中国成语), are well-known sayings or proverbs alluding to famous Chinese stories and historical events. They are not only a key part of Chinese language learning, but are also priceless in understanding Chinese culture. Chinese idioms are deeply rooted in legacies and traditional culture, making the Chinese language more rich and fascinating. Each Chinese idiom carries profound meaning, and knowing how to use them will help you sound just like a native Chinese speaker. Feel free to browse our complementary resources!

Bù chǐ xià wèn
不   耻  下    问


Be humble enough to consult one’s inferiors

Listen to the whole story:


Chūnqiū shí, wèiguó yǒu gè jiào Kǒng Yǔ de dàfu.
春秋       时,卫 国    有   个 叫    孔    圉  的 大夫。
In the Spring and Autumn period, there was a senior official ...

The idiom "哪壶不开提哪壶 (nǎ hú bù kāi tí nǎ hú)" literally means "to pick the kettle that is not boiling." It's used to indicate that someone is saying or doing something that shouldn't be mentioned in front of others, or that someone is bringing up a sensitive subject.

Idiom Story:

Hěn jiǔ yǐqián, yǒu fùzǐ liǎ kāile ...

In this issue we will learn a useful Chinese proverb —“墙头草, 随风倒(qiángtóucǎo, suífēngdǎo) The grass on top of the wall sways whichever way the wind blows”. Here, “墙头草(qiángtóucǎo)” refers to people who don’t have a mind of their own, who can’t form their own opinions. “墙头草(qiángtóucǎo)” are easily swayed and always choose to support ...

If you learn mandarin Chinese now, idioms are an important part of it. The mandarin language has developed over a very long period of time in which the idioms are formed, so idioms show fully the extensive and profound Chinese language.
Actually all the Chinese idioms have their own origins which are derived form ...

"钻牛角尖 (zuān niújiǎojiān)" refers to someone who wastes time and effort trying to figure out an insignificant or insoluble problem. Sometimes this idiom is used to describe a narrow-minded person.

Key Learning Point (Preview):
钻牛角尖 (zuān niújiǎojiān): to get into a dead end


Yìzhī lǎoshǔ zuāndào niújiǎojiān lǐ le. Tā pǎo bù chūlái, què hái pīnmìng wǎng lǐ zuān.
一只   ...

画饼充饥 (Huàbǐngchōngjī) Drawing Pancakes to Stave off Hunger


In Chinese idiom “画饼充饥 (huàbǐngchōngjī) ,”  “画 (huà)” means “to draw;” “饼 (bǐng)” refers to “pancakes;” “充 (chōng)” is “to fill or stuff sth,” which indicates “to stave off or to relieve” in this Chinese idiom; “饥 (jī)” means “being hungry.”
Key Learning Points (Preview):
画 (huà): v. / n. ...

叶公好龙 (Yègōng hào lóng) Lord Ye Loved Dragons


 "叶公好龙 (Yègōng hào lóng)" is a Chinese idiom meaning that someone loves a certain thing outwardly, but not sincerely.

Key Learning Point (Preview): 好 (hào): v. to love/to like


Cóngqián yǒu gè rén jiào Yègōng, tā hěn xǐhuan lóng.

从前          有   个  人   叫     叶公,他  很    喜欢   龙。


Once upon a time, there was a man named Lord ...

初生牛犊不怕虎 (chū shēng niúdú bú pà hǔ) New-born Calves are not Afraid of Tigers


Key Learning Point (Preview):

怕 (pà): v to fear/ be afraid of


 Towards the end of Eastern Han Dynasty, “刘备 (Liú Bèi) Liu Bei” captured the city “汉中 (Hànzhōng) Hanzhong” from “曹操 (Cáo Cāo) Cao Cao” and proclaimed himself king. He ordered his famed ...

滥竽充数 (Lànyúchōngshù) Fill a Post without Real Qualifications (Beginner)


Key Learning Point (Preview):

数 (shǔ/shù): v/n count/number


In the Warring States Period of China, a king named Qixuan liked listening to the "合奏 (hézòu) instrumental ensemble" of Yu (an instrument in ancient China). The more bandsmen played it, the happier he would be. Mr. Nanguo was a ...

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