Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is with “耍嘴皮子 (shuǎzuǐpízi)”

HSK 3 quiz

In daily conversation, you will hear common phrases that are meant to describe a situation or person but the meaning can easily get lost in the literal translation if you have never heard it before. So today I’ll introduce you to “耍嘴皮子 (shuǎzuǐpízi).”
Essentially, it can be used in a couple of different types of situations. One is for that person that talks about doing something but doesn’t act upon those words. For example, there are people who boast about a great business idea and how they will get rich but never take steps to make it happen. We all have met somebody like this. They can be described as “耍嘴皮子 (shuǎzuǐpízi).” The other is someone who shows off their persuasive abilities.

Let’s break it down:

耍嘴皮子 (Shuǎzuǐpízi): mere empty talk, words without actions, talk glibly.

嘴皮子 (Zuǐpízi): lips, eloquence

耍 (Shuǎ): frolic, play, amuse, play with

嘴 (Zuǐ): mouth, lips

皮 (Pí): skin, fur, feather, outer

子 (Zi): offspring, child, fruit, the seed of

Take a look at some of these examples to solidify the various meanings and proper applications of “耍嘴皮子 (shuǎzuǐpízi).” In the first dialogue, it is interpreted as being all talk and no action. This is the most common use of the phrase.

Dialogue 1:

Xiǎo Hóng: Xiǎo Míng, nǐ shàngcì tídào de jiànshēn jìhuà jìnxíng dé zěnmeyàng le?
Xiao Hong: Xiao Ming, how was the fitness plan that you mentioned last time?

Xiǎo Míng: Hái méi kāishǐ ne.
Xiao Ming: It hasn’t started yet.

Xiǎo Hóng: Guāng shuǎzuǐpízi shì búgòu de, nǐ děi xíngdòng qǐlái ya.
Xiao Hong: It’s not enough to just talk, you have to take action.

Yet, the alternative meaning is someone who shows off their persuasive abilities. Some people are a little manipulative while wielding their eloquence while others are simply able to talk their way through any situation.

Dialogue 2:

Lì Lì: Nǐ tīngshuō le ma? Xiǎo Lǐ chénggōng de shuō fú le lǎobǎn.
Li Li: Did you hear that? Xiao Li succeeded in persuading the boss.

Xiǎo Xīn: Tiān na! Tā shuǎzuǐpízi de gōngfu zhēn lìhài ya.
Xiao Xin: Oh my God! She’s really good at talking.

A few more examples to consider include:

Example 1:

Yígè zhī huì shuǎzuǐpízi de rén, chángcháng búhuì bèi lǎobǎn xǐhuān.
A man who only talks without action is often not liked by the boss.

Example 2:

Tā shì wǒ jiàn guò de zuì huì shuǎzuǐpízi de rén.
He is the most talkative person I have ever seen.

Example 3:

Zài zhè chǎng yǎnjiǎng zhōng, tā yìzhí zài shuǎzuǐpízi.
In this speech, she shows her gift in talking all the time.

HSK 3 quiz

Take this quiz to demonstrate your understanding of the meaning by reading the dialogue below and answering the question.

Lǐ Huá: Nǐ bié zài yì páng shuǎzuǐpízi le, kuài diǎn guòlái bāngmáng ba!

Zhāng Lì: Hǎo ba, wǒ mǎshàng lái!

According to the dialogue, what does the phrase “耍嘴皮子 (shuǎzuǐpízi)?” mean?

A. Talk loudly
B. Talk without action.
C. Play lips game
D. Flick his mouth

— Written by Julia Liu —

Julia Liu teaches Chinese with eChineseLearning. She has been successfully teaching
for 5 years and loves reading and practices her passion for drawing in her free time.

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