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Take a Chill Pill! How to Set Others at Ease in Chinese

Apr. 13, 2018

HSK 3 quiz

In English we have the saying, “Take a chill pill!” This can be slightly derogatory, but it also can encourage others to relax a bit when they are being too up-tight.

In Chinese we have a phrase that very much relates to this meaning. It is “定心丸 (Dìngxīnwán)”. And it originally was used to define a specific type of pill that would put people at ease, relax and calm them.

Now, in modern China, we use this phrase to describe someone who can set others at ease. You know that type of person: Someone who assures people, gives them confidence and calms their fears and anxieties.

During the economic crisis period, the government would take some actions like making new protecting policy or offering economic rescue to help small companies and staff go through suffering. At this time, we can say “政府给我们吃了定心丸 (Zhèngfǔ gěi wǒmen chī le dìngxīnwán). The government lets us feel at ease.”

Let’s look at the full breakdown of the phrase “定心丸 (Dìngxīnwán)” to fully understand the background and meaning:

定心丸 (Dìngxīnwán): assurance; to be capable of making one at ease.

定 (Dìng): v. to set; to fix; to determine.

心 (Xīn): n. heart.

丸 (Wán): n. pill.

When you use this phrase, you need to make sure you put it into the correct order in the sentence. Here is the most common structure used:Somebody + 吃了 (chī le) + 定心丸 (dìngxīnwán).

Lǐ lǎoshī gěi wǒ chī le dìngxīnwán, shuō wǒ kǎoshì chéngjì hái búcuò.
李 老 师  给  我  吃  了  定  心  丸,  说    我  考  试    成 绩  还  不 错。
Teacher Li soothed my nerves and told me my test scores is good.

Kàn dào māma, wǒ jiù xiàng chī le dìngxīnwán yíyàng ānxīn.
看    到   妈 妈,我  就   像    吃  了  定  心  丸   一  样  安 心。
When I saw my mother, I was just as relieved as if I eat a pill which makes me ease and assured.

You can also refer to a general entity when using this word, such as the government. For example, during the latest economic crisis, the government took actions to protect businesses, staff and individuals from greater economic threat. Therefore another example would be:

Zhèngfǔ gěi wǒmen chī le dìngxīnwán.
政   府  给    我  们   吃 了  定   心  丸。
The government lets us feel at ease.

Can you try and use this phrase in a sentence? Comment your ideas below, and we will check them for you!

Ready for a quiz? Go for it!

1. Read the dialogue and answer the question below:

Lily: Mike zěnme yàng la?
Lily: Mike  怎 么     样  啦?

Ethan: Tā tīng dào nǐ de chéngnuò, xiàng shì chī xià le dìngxīnwán.
Ethan: 他   听   到  你 的     承    诺,  像    是  吃  下  了  定  心  丸。

Lily: Nà jiù hǎo!
Lily: 那  就  好!

Which of the following statements is true according to the dialogue?

A. Mike ate the pills Ethan gave and feel not good.
B. Mike feels better after hearing Ethan’s promise.
C. Mike feels worse after hearing Ethan’s promise.
D. Mike ate the pills Ethan gave and feel good.

See Answer Analysis
—Written by Ronina Li—
Ronina Li lives in the Beijing and has been a Mandarin teacher for 6 years. She likes reading and delicious food. She hope she can help more people to learn Chinese language and know Chinese cluture.

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