What does the Chinese idiom “big hands big feet” mean?

Generally the word “大(dà)” means big.

Example

Wǒ tīngshuō Zhāng Wěi xǐhuan nàgè dà yǎnjīng de nǚháir.
我   听说        张        伟   喜欢    那个  大  眼睛     的 女孩儿。

I heard that Zhang Wei likes that girl who has big eyes.

However, on some occasions when the word “大(dà)” is combined with certain words, it can create words with new meanings, such as “大手大脚(dàshǒu dàjiǎo)” and “大嘴巴(dà zuǐba).”

Literally, “大手大脚(dàshǒu dàjiǎo)” means big hands and big feet, but its meaning in usage is more idiomatic than literal. It means that one is wasteful and very extravagant with money.

Example

Nǐ shì yí gè huā qián dàshǒu dàjiǎo de rén ma?
你 是 一 个 花    钱     大手     大脚   的  人   吗?

Are you a person who uses money extravagantly?

Wǒ nán péngyou huāqián dàshǒu dàjiǎo, zěnmebàn?
我   男   朋友        花钱       大手     大脚, 怎   么 办?

My boyfriend is very extravagant with money. What should I do about this?

Literally, “大嘴巴(dà zuǐba) means big mouth. We usually use it to indicate that someone cannot keep a secret and often spreads gossip widely. In other words, the person is a blabbermouth.

Example

Xū, búyào gàosù tā zhèjiàn shì, tā shì gè dà zuǐba!
嘘,不要   告诉   她 这件     事,她 是  个 大  嘴巴!

Shh, don’t let her know about this, because she is a blabbermouth.

Nà gè dà zuǐba zěnme zhīdào zhè jiàn shì?
那  个  大  嘴巴  怎么    知道    这   件   事?

How did that blabbermouth know about this?

Exercise

1. Mary is known as a girl who is “大手大脚(dàshǒu dàjiǎo).” It means that she ___.

A. is very careless

B. has big hands and big feet

C. is extravagant with money

2. Which of the following sentences can be used to describe a “大嘴巴(dà zuǐba)?”

A. “Li Ming, I can’t help telling you some secrets about Lucy!”

B. “My nose is very small but my mouth is very big.”

C. “I often break my promises.”

Chinese Popular Words (Fun Stuff)
General Chinese (Beginner Level)
General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

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