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Chinese Idiom: 得寸进尺 If You Give Someone an Inch, They Will Take a Mile.

Apr. 6, 2016

decunjinchi

"得寸进尺 (décùnjìnchǐ)" means that if you give someone an inch, they will take a mile. Nowadays, people usually use this expression to describe someone who is very greedy.

Key Learning Point (Preview):

得寸进尺(décùnjìnchǐ) If give someone an inch, he will take a mile.

 

Idiom Story:

Zhànguó mò qī,   qī xióng zhēng bà. Qízhōng Qínguó hěn qiángdà, bìng túmóu tǒngyī tiānxià.
战国        末  期,七  雄      争     霸。其中       秦国    很     强大,   并    图谋    统一    天下。
During the late Zhanguo period, there were seven kingdoms on the mainland of China. Among the seven kingdoms, the Qin kingdom was the most powerful one. The ruler of Qin wanted to conquer the other kingdoms to be the ruler of all.

 

Qínzhāowáng zhǔnbèi yuè guò Hán, Wèi liǎng guó dǎ Qíguó.
秦昭王             准备     越    过   韩、 魏    两    国   打  齐国。
The Emperor of Qin intended to attack the Qi kingdom by going through the kingdoms of Han and Wei.

 

Dàn cèshì Fàn Jū shuō: "Xiànzài Qíguó shìlì hái suàn shì qiángdà, dàn lí Qínguó hěn yuǎn.
但    策士  范  雎   说: “现在     齐国  势力还  算    是   强大, 但  离  秦国     很    远。
But his subordinate Fan Ju said: "The Qi kingdom is still powerful now and far away from our kingdom.

 

Jíshǐ dǎ shèng le,   yě bìxū yuè guò Hán, Wèi liǎng guó cái néng dàodá, hěn nán shǒu zhù.
即使 打  胜     了,也必须  越   过   韩、  魏   两    国   才  能     到达, 很   难     守    住。
Even if we win the battle, we must guard the land of Qi by passing through the kingdoms of Han and Wei.

 

Suǒyǐ bùrú mànmàn xiàng wài tuòzhǎn, zhèyàng suǒ dé de měi yí cùn yì chǐ tǔdì, dōu jiāng
所以  不如    慢慢       向    外  拓展,     这样      所   得 的  每  一 寸  一 尺  土地,都  将
wěnwěn dāngdāng de wéi Qínguó suǒ yōngyǒu, zhèyàng jiù néng zhújiàn tǒngyī tiānxià le."
稳稳         当当       地  为    秦国    所     拥有,    这样     就  能     逐渐     统一    天下  了。”
What if we slowly expand the amount of land we control from here? So we can firmly control every inch of land we conquer. And in the end we will be the ruler."

 

Qínzhāowáng biàn cǎiyòngle zhège cèluè, guǒrán zài xǔduō zhànyì zhōng qǔdé shènglì.
秦昭王             便     采用了   这个   策略,果然    在  许多    战役    中     取得   胜利。
The Emperor adopted his suggestion, and won many battles.

 

The Chinese idiom "得寸进尺 (décùnjìnchǐ)" comes from this event in history. It means that every inch of the land belongs to the Emperor of Qin. But nowadays, this idiom is used in a negative way. People always use this idiom to describe a person who is very greedy without ever being satisfied with what they have.

Key Learning Point:

得寸进尺 (décùnjìnchǐ) If you give someone an inch, they will take a mile.

 

"得 ()" means achieve; "寸 (cùn)" means inch; "进 (jìn)" means to move forward; "尺 (chǐ)" means foot.

Examples:

Tā zhège rén zǒngshì décùnjìnchǐ, nǐ hái shì bié lǐ tā le.
他  这个   人   总是     得寸进尺, 你 还  是 别 理他了。
He is always very greedy. You'd better ignore him.

 

Rúguǒ wǒmen zài xiǎo shìqing shàng zǒngshì ràngbù, tāmen jiù huì décùnjìnchǐ de.
如果      我们    在  小    事情      上      总是     让步,  他们   就  会   得寸进尺  的。
If we give in to every small issue, they'll eventually take over our world.

 


You may be interested in more Chinese idioms:

对牛弹琴 To Play the Harp to A Cow

掩耳盗铃 To cover one’s ears when he steals the bell

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Comments

The Chinese idiom “得寸进尺 (décùnjìnchǐ)” comes from this event in history. It means that every inch of the land belongs to the Emperor of Qin. But nowadays, this idiom is used in a negative way. People always use this idiom to describe a person who is very greedy without ever being satisfied with what they have.

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