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“说曹操,曹操到(shuō Cáo Cāo, Cáo Cāo dào) Speak of the Devil and He Appears”

Jan. 12, 2010

"说曹操,曹操到 (shuō Cáo Cāo, Cáo Cāo dào) Speak of the Devil and He Appears" 


The story about "说曹操,曹操到 (shuō Cáo Cāo, Cáo Cāo dào) speak of the devil and he appears" was from《三国演义(sānguó yǎnyì)》The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. 汉献帝 (Hàn Xiàndì) Han Xiandi (an emperor in the Han dynasty) was attacked by 李傕 (Lǐ jué) Li Jue and 郭汜(Guō Sì) Guo Si. At this time, someone "推荐 (tuījiàn) recommended" "曹操 (Cáo Cāo) Cao Cao" to help him get out of the woods.  汉献帝 (Hàn Xiàndì) Han Xiandi agreed and ordered a person to send a message to 曹操 (Cáo Cāo) Cao Cao. But before 曹操 (Cáo Cāo) Cao Cao could receive the message, he had ordered his understrapper 夏侯敦 (Xià Hóudūn) Xia Houdun to come to save 汉献帝 (Hàn Xiàndì) Han Xiandi. As a result,  李傕 (Lǐ jué) Li Jue and 郭汜 (Guō Sì) Guo Si were destroyed by 曹操 (Cáo Cāo) Cao Cao, who was "授予 (shòuyǔ) conferred" higher title because of the victory. Since then, the proverb "说曹操,曹操到 (shuō Cáo Cāo, Cáo Cāo dào)" was widespread.

(Get a deeper understanding of Chinese culture now)


"说曹操,曹操到 (shuō Cáo Cāo, Cáo Cāo dào)" literally means "Speak of Cao Cao and Cao Cao arrives." The phrase refers to the time when you are talking about someone, and he or she appears immediately. 说 (shuō) means to talk; 到 (dào) means to arrive or to come; 曹操 (Cáo Cāo) Cao Cao is a particular character in "三国演义 (sānguó yǎnyìThe Romance of the Three Kingdoms," but now it refers to any person.

A real scenario:

A: 听说韩梅最近准备参加超级女声选秀活动,不知进展如何啊?    

A: Tīngshuō Hán Méi zuìjìn zhǔnbèi cānjiā chāojí nǚshēng xuǎnxiù huódòng, bù zhī jìnzhǎn rúhé a?    

A: I hear that Han Mei is preparing for the Super Girl Draft, how is it going?

B: 我也听说了,不过也不知境况呀!     

B: Wǒ yě tīngshuō le, búguò yě bù zhī jìngkuàng ya!     

B: I heard that too, but neither do I know how it goes!   (At this time, The third person comes)

C: 嗨!你们在说什么呢?     

C: Hāi!Nǐmen zài shuō shénme ne?     

C: Hi! What are you talking about?

A: 正说你呢,你就来了,真是说曹操,曹操到啊!(笑)     

A: Zhèng shuō nǐ ne, nǐ jiù lái le, zhēn shì shuō Cáo Cāo, Cáo Cāo dào a! ( xiào)     

A: We are talking about you, and here you come: Speak of the devil and he arrives! (Laugh)

生词(shēngcí) Vocabulary  

推荐(tuījiàn): v to recommend 

(毛遂自荐 (Máo Suí zìjiàn) to recommend oneself)

授予(shòuyǔ): v to confer   

More Chinese Idioms

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Nice website dude keep it up

Youre so right. Im there with you. Your blog is definitely worth a read if anyone comes across it. Im lucky I did because now Ive got a whole new view of this. I didnt realise that this issue was so important and so universal. You definitely put it in perspective for me.

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