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初生牛犊不怕虎 New-born Calves are not Afraid of Tigers (Beginner)

Jun. 2, 2010

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 (): 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 general “关羽 (Guān Yǔ) Guan Yu” to capture “襄阳 (Xiāngyáng) Xiang yang” in the north. 刘备 (Liú Bèi)’s army defeated 曹操 (Cáo Cāo)’s army, which fell back on“樊城 (Fánchéng) Fancheng.” “曹操 (Cáo Cāo) Cao Cao” sent a young and brave officer “庞德 (Páng Dé) Pang De” to lead the soldiers into “樊城 (Fánchéng) Fancheng” for support.  When “庞德 (Páng Dé) Pang De” led his troops into “樊城 (Fánchéng) Fancheng,” he said that he would have a “决战 (juézhàn) decisive battle” with “关羽 (Guān Yǔ) Guan Yu.” Both fought hard against each other in the following battles but neither prevailed. After the battles, “关羽 (Guān Yǔ) Guan Yu” came back to the military camp and said to his subordinates: “ ‘庞德 (Páng Dé) Pang De’ had very good sword skills, and he was “初生牛犊不怕虎 (chū shēng niúdú bú pà hǔ) a new-born calf that is not afraid of tiger.” We can’t look down upon him.” “初生 (chū shēng)” means new-born and “牛犊 (niúdú)” means calf. This idiom is often used to describe young people who are not afraid of obstacles and are very brave.

For example:

Zhèxiē xiǎohuǒzi wúlùn zuò shénme shì dōu shuō gàn jiù gàn ,
这些   小   伙子  无论   做    什么      事  都     说     干  就  干,                                                  bú hàipà rènhé kùnnan ,zhēn kě wèi chū shēng niúdú bú pà hǔ ā !
不   害怕    任何    困难,    真   可   谓    初  生     牛犊   不  怕  虎 啊! 

Whatever these young men decide to do they will start without delay and they aren’t afraid of any difficulty. “New-born calves are not afraid of tigers!”

Key Learning Point:

怕 (): v to fear/ be afraid of


Wǒ jiějie gàosu wǒ xué hànyǔ bú shì jiàn jiǎndān de shìqing,  
我  姐姐   告诉  我 学   汉语 不 是    件     简单    的 事 情,
dànshì wǒ yí diǎn dōu bú pà, wǒ jué dé xué hànyǔ hěn yǒu yìsi.  
但 是   我  一 点    都  不 怕,我 觉 得 学   汉语    很    有  意 思。

My older sister told me that it is not easy to learn Mandarin, but I am not afraid of learning it at all. I think it is very interesting to learn Mandarin.

生词 (shēngcí) Vocabulary:

 决战 (juézhàn): n a decisive battle

 初生牛犊 (chū shēng niúdú): new-born calves

 虎 (hǔ): n tigers

Chinese Idiom

General Chinese (Beginner Level)

General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

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怕 is almost the same meaning as 害怕, sometimes for porm or idiom, omit the word 害


Is “怕 (pà)” the same as “害怕 (hàipà)?

This idiom was originated from《庄子•知北游》(Zhuāngzi•Zhī běi yóu)Zhuangzi•Zhibeiyou, which is written by 庄子 (Zhuāngzi) Zhuangzi, the great thinker, philosopher and writer in the Pre-Qin period. Of course, if you have just started learning Mandarin, reading this one would be way too hard!!!

I have heard this idiom from a friend in China. He once used it to describe me. I am wondering where this idiom comes from.

Yes, the two words are quite the same. “怕” is always used in oral Chinese, while “害怕” in written.

It is a kind of metaphor that used to show the great courage of young people.

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