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Chinese Idiom: 大材小用 To Waste One’s Talent on A Petty Job

Apr. 20, 2016

dacaixiaoyong

"大材小用 (dàcáixiǎoyòng)" literally means "to use big materials to do small things." It is used now to express that talented people are being misused.

Key Learning Point (Preview):

大材小用 (dàcáixiǎoyòng) to waste one's talent on a petty job

 

 

Idiom Story:

Listen to the whole story

 

Nánsòng mò, Jīnguó búduàn nán qīn. Xīn Qìjí cānjiāle kàng jīn yìjūn.
南宋        末, 金国    不断     南   侵。辛弃疾 参加了  抗   金 义军。
At the end of the Nan Song Dynasty, the state of Jin invaded many times. Xin Qiji served in the Army. 

 

Hòulái, tā zài cháotíng lǐ lì rèn Húběi, Jiāngxī děng fǔshǐ.
后来, 他 在    朝廷   里历 任  湖北、江西     等   抚使。
Eventually, he was named governor in charge of the provinces of Hubei and Jiangxi. 

 

Tā bùjǐn shì ge ài guó yīngxióng, hái xiěle hěn duō ài guó shīcí.
他 不仅  是 个 爱  国    英雄,    还  写了 很   多   爱  国  诗词。
He was not only a patriotic hero, but also a talented poet who wrote many poems based on patriotic themes.  

 

1203 nián, tā bèi rènmìng wéi Zhèdōng ānfǔshǐ, cháng yǔ àiguó shīrén Lù Yóu
1203  年,他  被   任命     为    浙东      安抚使, 常    与  爱国   诗人   陆  游  
yìlùn guójiā dà shì.
议论   国家  大 事。
In the year 1203, the government appointed him as the governor of Zhedong. He often talked about national affairs with Lu You, a patriotic poet. 

 

Dì èr nián, huángdì yào tā qù jīngchéng, xúnwèn tā duì běi fá Jīnguó de yìjiàn.
第 二 年,  皇帝      要  他 去   京城,      询问    他 对  北 伐  金国   的 意见。
In the following year, the emperor summoned Xin Qiji to the capital to ask him for his advice about the war with the state of Jin.

 

Zǒu zhī qián, Lù Yóu sòng tā yì shǒu shī, shī zhōng shuō: Xīn Qìjí zuò ānfǔshǐ tài
走    之   前,陆  游    送   他一  首    诗,诗   中     说: 辛 弃疾 做  安抚使  太
dàcáixiǎoyòng le.
大材小用        了。
Before Xin Qiji went to the capital, Lu You wrote a poem for him. He wrote: It is a waste of talent to have Xin Qiji serve as the governor of Zhedong; he deserves more.

 

Xīn Qìjí dàole jīngchéng, huángdì què zhǐ ānpái tā zuò Zhènjiāngfǔ zhīfǔ.
辛 弃疾 到了    京城,    皇帝      却    只  安排 他 做      镇江府      知府。
But when Xin Qiji went to the capital, the emperor made him the governor of Zhenjiang anyway.

 

Bùjiǔ, zhè wèi ài guó yīngxióng biàn zài yōufèn zhōng bìng shì.
不久,这  位  爱 国    英雄        便   在   忧愤     中      病    逝。
Soon after, the hero Xin Qiji died in sorrow and indignation as a result of working at a job that did not utilize his talents.

 

Nowadays, people use the word "大材小用 (dàcáixiǎoyòng)" to describe the situation where a person is very talented but is not noticed for their talent and as a result their talent is wasted.

Key Learning Point:

大材小用 (dàcáixiǎoyòng): to waste one's talent on a petty job

 

"大 ()" means "big;" "材 (cái)" means "material;" "小 (xiǎo)" means "small;" "用 (yòng)" means "use."

Examples:

Jié Kè: Ràng tā qù zuò zhè ge diàochá zhēn shì dàcáixiǎoyòng le.
杰 克:   让    她 去  做   这  个  调查      真   是    大材小用      了。
Jack:  It is a waste of her talent to have her do such basic research.

 

Lǐ Lì:   Shì a,    tā kě shì ge zuò kǒuyì de réncái.
李 丽: 是啊,她 可 是  个  做  口译  的  人才。
Lily:  Certainly, she is so talented in interpretation.

 

Ràng yí ge dǒng duō guó yǔyán de rén zuò zhè zhǒng xiǎoshì yǒu diǎnr dàcáixiǎoyòng le.
让     一 个  懂     多   国    语言  的 人    做   这    种     小事     有  点儿   大材小用      了。
It's a waste of talent to leave such trivial matters to one who speaks so many tongues.

 

 

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