Chinese Proverbs




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A

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations

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Accumulate knowledge as you do your wealth; attain morality as you do your fame; love your parents as you do your wife and children; protect your country as you do your titular rank.
(Chinese original: 以积货财之心积学问,以求功名之念求道德,以爱妻子之心爱父母,以保爵位之策保国家。Chinese Pinyin: Yi3 ji1 huo4 cai2 zhi1 xin1 ji1 xue2wen4, yi3 qiu2 gong1ming2 zhi1 nian4 qiu2 dao4de1, yi3 ai1 qi1 zi3 zhi1 xin1 ai4 fu4mu3, yi3 bao3 jue2wei4 zhi1 ce4 bao3 guo2jia1.)
 
An able horse will never come back to feed in the same stable.
(Chinese original: 好马不吃回头草。Chinese Pinyin: Hao3 ma3 bu4 chi1 hui2 tou2 cao3.)
A capable employer never returns to the same employer after leaving him.
Add a flower to a bouquet.
(Chinese original: 锦上添花。Chinese Pinyin: Jin3 shang4 tian1 hua1.)
Make improvements upon something good with an attempt at perfection.
Add frost to snow.
(Chinese original: 雪上加霜。Chinese Pinyin: Xue3 shang4 jia1 shuang1.)
(Similar proverb: A weasel bit a sick duck. 黄鼠狼单咬病鸭子: Huang2shu3lang2 dan1 yao3 bing4 ya1zi)
Add insult to injury.
 
Add legs to the snake one has just painted.
(Chinese original: 画蛇添足。Chinese Pinyin: Hua4 she2 tian1 zu2.)
Do something that is totally unnecessary and spoil what you already have done.
 
Add oil to a fire.
(Chinese original: 火上加油。Chinese Pinyin: Huo3 shang4 jia1 you2.)
Isn't it "adding fuel to a flame?"
 
Aged ginger is more pungent.
(Chinese original: 姜是老的辣。Chinese Pinyin: Jiang1 shi4 lao3de la4.)
Elderly people are more experienced.
 
An aged steed confined to the stable still aspires after the glory of galloping a thousand miles.
(Chinese original: 老骥伏枥,志在千里。Chinese Pinyin: Lao3 ji4 fu2 li4, zhi4 zai4 qian1 li3.)
Ambition survives even in senior age.
 
An ant may well destroy an entire dam.
(Chinese original: 千里之堤,溃于蚁穴。Chinese Pinyin: Qin1li3 zhi1 di1, kui4 yu2 yi3xue2.)
If a small problem is overlooked, it could develop into a big disaster as ant can multiply, making tunnels in the dam to allow water soak in and consequently bring it to a collapse.
 
Any book you open will benefit your mind.
(Chinese original: 开卷有益。Chinese Pinyin: Kai1 juan4 you3 yi4.)
 
Approach heaven with a single stride.
(Chinese original: 一步登天。Chinese Pinyin: Yi2 bu4 deng1 tian1.)
Make an extremely fast progress or get a huge promotion.
 
As a snipe and a clam are entangled in a fight, a fisherman catch them both.
(Chinese original: 鹬蚌相争,渔翁得利。Chinese Pinyin: Yu4 bang4 xiang1 zheng1, yu2 weng1 de2 li4.)
When two dogs fight for a bone, a third runs always with it. The proverb tells us that all parties in a dispute may end up being losers to the benefit of others.
 

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B

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
A base person often thinks of a man of honor as mean as himself.
(Chinese original: 以小人之心,度君子之腹。Chinese Pinyin: Yi3 xiao3ren2 zhi1 xin1 du4 jun1zi3 zhi1 fu4.)
 
 
Be considerable to others and you will be treated likewise.
(Chinese original: 与人方便 自己方便。Chinese Pinyin: Yu4 ren2 fang1bian4, zi4ji3 fang1bian4.)
 
 
Begin to dig a well only when one feels thirsty.
(Chinese original: 临渴掘井。Chinese Pinyin: Lin2 ke3 jue2 jing3.)
Begin to take measures when it is too late.
A book holds a house of gold.
(Chinese original: 书中自有千金屋。Chinese Pinyin: Shu1 zhong1 zi4 you3 qian1jin1 wu1.)
It is a motto adults use to encourage youngsters to study. If you study hard, you'll have a good job and a chance to make good money.
 
A bottle half filled (with vinegar) tends to rock.
(Chinese original: 半瓶醋-乱晃荡。Chinese Pinyin: Ban3 ping2 cu4 - luan4 huang4dang1.)
The moral of the proverb is something like "Still water runs deep." When someone has a lot of learning, he or she still wants to learn more; only those who know a little brag a lot.
Burn a forest to farm and drain a pond to fish.
(Chinese original: 焚林而田,竭泽而渔。Chinese Pinyin: Fen2 lin2 er3 tian2, jie2 ze2 er3 yu2.)
Isn't this what some of us doing today to our environment against the 3000-year old proverbial warning? In many other aspects we are also prone to such mistakes: in trying to achieve an end by all means, we wittingly or unwittingly ignore the consequences.
 
Butcher the donkey after it finished his job on the mill.
(Chinese original: 卸磨杀驴。Chinese Pinyin: Xie4 mo4 sha1 lü2.)
Isn't that ungrateful and mean? There are people who after taking advantage of you turn their back to you.
 
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C

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
A camel standing amidst a flock of sheep.
(Chinese original: 羊群里边出骆驼。Chinese Pinyin: Yang2qun2 li3bian1 chu1 luo4tuo.)
A crane is too obvious when it stands among a flock of chickens and looks very awkward. It is also true with a camel amidst a flock of sheep and a flea when it stands on top of a hairless head. They all carry a pejorative tone: the thing that out stands others is something awkward if not necessarily bad.
 
Carry out an execution before seeking the decree.
(Chinese original: 先斩后奏。Chinese Pinyin: Xian1 zhan3 hou4 zou4.)
There are situations when one has to act before reporting to his superior. Shouldn't it be avoided as much as possible?
 
A chat with a friend is worth over ten years of schooling.
(Chinese original: 与君一席话,胜读十年书。Chinese Pinyin: Yu4 jun1 yi4 xi2 tan2, sheng4 du2 shi2 nian2 shu1.)
This is a hyperbole. However, books may not be able to teach us everything.
 
A clay figure fears rain; a lie fears truth.
(Chinese original: 泥人怕雨,谎言怕理。Chinese Pinyin: Ni2ren2 pa4 yu3, huang3yan2 pa4 li3.)
 
 
A clay idol of bodhisattva fording a river can hardly save itself, let alone anyone else.
(Chinese original: 泥菩萨过河,自身难保。Chinese Pinyin: Ni2 pu2sa4 guo4 he2, zi4shen1 nan2 bao3.)
Bodhisattva is believed to be an enlightened Buddhist god (goddess in Chinese beliefs) who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana in order to save others. However, such a savior made in clay could save nobody on the other side of a river as the water would soak and dissolve it. When one is in serious trouble, he may not be able to save his own tail, let alone others'.
 
A clumsy bird flies first.
(Chinese original: 笨鸟先飞。Chinese Pinyin: Ben4 niao3 xian1 fei1.)
Usually as an expression of modesty and humbleness, it means that one who is slow in learning should make extra efforts.
Conjure up clouds with one turn of one's hand and rain with another.
(Chinese original: 翻云覆雨。Chinese Pinyin: Fan1 yun2 fu4 yu3.)
To say that someone can conjure up clouds and rain with his turn of hand is to say that he is capricious or skillful at playing tricks.
A crane standing amidst a flock of chickens.
(Chinese original: 鹤立鸡群。Chinese Pinyin: He4 li4 ji1qun2.)
A crane is too obvious when it stands among a flock of chickens and looks very awkward. It is also true with a camel amidst a flock of sheep and a flea when it stands on top of a hairless head. They all carry a pejorative tone: the thing that out stands others is something awkward if not necessarily bad.
 
Crows everywhere are equally black.
(Chinese original: 天下乌鸦一般黑。Chinese Pinyin: Tian1xia4 wu1ya1 yi1ban1 hei1.)
It is a metaphorical statement of "Bad people are bad no matter where you find them because human nature never changes".
 

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D

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
A dagger can be concealed in a smile.
(Chinese original: 笑里藏刀。Chinese Pinyin: Xiao4 li3 cang2 dao1.)
Beware of this "kiss of death."
A deliberate inaction is better than a blind action.
(Chinese original: 一动不如一静。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 dong.)
Think before you leap.
Diligence is the vehicle on the paths of Mountains of Books; endurance is the vessel on the courses of the Seas of Learning.
(Chinese original: 书山有路勤为径, 学海无涯苦作舟。Chinese Pinyin: Shu1 shan1 you3 lu4 qin2 wei2 jing4, xue2 hai3 wu2 ya2 ku3 zuo4 zhou1.)
 
Disasters never come alone.
(Chinese original: 祸不单行。Chinese Pinyin: Huo4 bu4 dan1 xing2.)
Talking of extremely bad luck. Similar to "Misery loves company.“
A dish of carrot hastily cooked may still has soil not cleaned off the vegetable.
(Chinese original: 萝卜快了不洗泥。Chinese Pinyin: Luo2bo1 kuai4 le bu4 xi3 ni2.)
When hurry through a job it is impossible to attend to the minute details.
Dismantle the bridge after crossing it.
(Chinese original: 过河拆桥。Chinese Pinyin: Guo4 he2 chai1 qiao2.)
Isn't that ungrateful and mean? There are people who after taking advantage of you turn their back to you.
Display one's proficiency of axe in front of the master carpenter.
(Chinese original: 班门弄斧。Chinese Pinyin: Ban1 men2 nong4 fu3.)
Display one's minimal skill before an expert.
Distant water won't help to put out a fire close at hand.
(Chinese original: 远水救不了近火。Chinese Pinyin: Yuan3 shui3 jiu4 bu4 liao3 jin4 huo3.)
A slow remedy can't meet an emergency.
Distant water won't quench your immediate thirst.
(Chinese original: 远水解不了近渴。Chinese Pinyin: Yuan3 shui3 jie3 bu4 liao3 jin4 ke3.)
Same as above.
A dog will jump over a wall when cornered.
(Chinese original: 狗急跳墙。Chinese Pinyin: Gou3 ji2 tiao4 qiang2.)
Avoid putting others in a very difficult position, or you'll get hurt yourself.
Don't hit one on the face; Do not grab one’s spoon from his mouth.
(Chinese original: 打人不打脸,吃饭不夺碗。Chinese Pinyin: Da3 ren2 bu4 da3 lian3; chi1fan4 bu4 duo2 wan3.)
Disclose one's shortcomings in public would only antagonize him. Be diplomatic or tactic and he may accept your criticism.
Don't mention the word "dwarf" in front of a short person.
(Chinese original: 当着矮人,别说矮话。Chinese Pinyin: Dang1 zhe ai3ren2 bie2 shuo1 ai3 hua4.)
Mentioning a person's shortcomings will hurt his feelings. One needs to be tactful or diplomatic when communicating with others.
Don't suspect your employee. If one is suspicious, don't employ him.
(Chinese original: 用人不疑,疑人不用。Chinese Pinyin: Yong4 ren2 bu4 yi2, yi2 ren2 bu2 yong4.)
 
Don't want others to know what you have done? Better not have done it anyway.
(Chinese original: 要想人不知,除非己莫为。Chinese Pinyin: Yao4 xiang3 ren2 bu4 zhi1, chu2fei1 ji3 mo4 wei2.)
 
A donkey has limited abilities.
(Chinese original: 黔驴技穷。Chinese Pinyin: Qian2 lü2 ji4 qiong2.)
The story goes that when a tiger sees a donkey for the first time it does not know whether the donkey is a threat. After a few teases, the tiger learned the limits of its ability. The result is apparent. The proverb is used to refer to someone who has exhausted his limited ability. Never use this proverb with your colleague or friends. It is derogatory: the slight of donkeys seems universal.
Donkey's lips do not fit in with a horse's mouth.
(Chinese original: 驴唇不对马嘴。Chinese Pinyin: Lü2chun2 bu2 dui4 ma3zui3.)
It refers to something totally irrelevant.
The dragon has nine sons, each different from the others.
(Chinese original: 一龙生九种,种种不同。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 long2 sheng1 jiu3 zhong3, zhong3 zhong3 bu4 tong2.)
Rarely do sibblings have the same temperament and characters.
A dragon will be teased by a shrimp in a shoal water; a tiger will be bullied by a dog on a treeless plain.
(Chinese original: 龙游浅水遭虾戏,虎落平阳被犬欺。Chinese Pinyin: Long2 you2 qian3 shui3 zao1 xia1 xi4, hu3 luo4 ping2 yang2 bei4 quan3 qi1.)
(A similar proverb: A mighty dragon cannot subdue a local snake. 强龙不按地头蛇: Qiang2 long2 bu1 an4 di4 tou2 she2.)
One thrives in his or her own territory. An able person in an adverse environment cannot bring his talent into full play. Instead, he or she may become an underdog of a less able person who has been in that environment for a long time with a lot of connections.
Draw a cake to satisfy one's hunger.
(Chinese original: 画饼充饥。Chinese Pinyin: Hua4 bing3 chong1 ji1.)
An unrealistic solution to a problem serves no other purpose than self deception.
Dripping water can eat through a stone.
(Chinese original: 滴水穿石。Chinese Pinyin: Di1 shui3 chuan1 shi2.)
Perseverance will lead to success.
A dog won't forsake his master because of his poverty; a son never deserts his mother for her homely appearance.
(Chinese original: 狗不嫌家贫,儿不嫌娘丑。Chinese Pinyin: Gou3 bu1 xian2 jia1 pin2, er2 bu1 xian2 niang2 chou3.)
Don't despise something or someone that is close to you.
Drinking with a bosom friend, a thousand shots are too few; Talking with a disagreeable person, half a sentence is too many.
(Chinese original: 酒逢知己千杯少,话不投机半句多。Chinese Pinyin: Jiu3 feng2 zhi1ji3 qian1 bei1 shao3, hua4 bu4 tou2 ji1 ban4 ju4 duo1.)
 
Dream different dreams on the same bed.
(Chinese original: 同床异梦。Chinese Pinyin: Tong2 chuang2 yi4 meng4.)
Hide different purposes behind the semblance of accord.
A dream that lasts merely a millet soup's cooking time.
(Chinese original: 黄粱一梦 or 一枕黄粱。Chinese Pinyin: Huang2liang2 yi1 meng4 or Yi1 zhen3 huang2liang2.)
Some got a magic pillow and dreamed all the happiness a human being could think of, but upon his awakening, he realized that the pot of millet soup was not yet ready next door. The proverb is akin to "day dreaming" - a fond hope that can never materialize.
Dripping water can eat through a stone.
(Chinese original: 滴水穿石。Chinese Pinyin: Di1 shui3 chuan1 shi2.)
Perseverance will lead to success.
Drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dig it.
(Chinese original: 吃水不忘掘井人。Chinese Pinyin: Chi1 shui3 bu1 wang4 jue1 jing3 ren2.)
One should always be grateful to those who helped him succeed.
A drop of sweat spent in a drill is a drop of blood saved in a battle.
(Chinese original: 平时多流汗,战时少流血。Chinese Pinyin: Ping2shi2 duo1 liu2 han4, zhan4shi2 shao3 liu2 xue4.)
More practice will give one a better chance of success in real situation.

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E

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Each law suit is a fire that burns despite one’s innocence.
(Chinese original: 一场官司一场火,任你好汉没处躲。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 chang3 guan1si1 yi1 chang3 huo3, ren4 ni3 hao3han4 mei2 chu4 duo3.)
It may not be true, but this is a traditional Chinese belief. People would rather suffer some loss than find themselves entangled in a law suit that could prove more costly.
Each sovereign maintains his own courtiers.
(Chinese original: 一朝天子一朝臣。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 chao2 tian1zi1 yi1 chao2 chen2.)
For instance, each president has his own cabinet.
Eight Immortals cross the sea, each employing his or her theurgy.
(Chinese original: 八仙过海,各显神通。Chinese Pinyin: Ba1xian1 guo4 hai3, ge4 xian3 shen2tong1.)
The Eight Immortals (Baxian) are legendary, each has a special miraculous power. The proverb describes a situation where people bring their diverse talents into play in accomplishing a task.
Even a rabbit will bite when it is cornered.
(Chinese original: 兔子急了也咬人。Chinese Pinyin: Tu4zi ji2 le ye3 yao3 ren2.)
 
The evil is dreaded by men but not heaven; the kind-hearted is cheated by mortals but not God.
(Chinese original: 人恶人怕天不怕, 人善人欺天不欺。Chinese Pinyin: Ren2 e4 ren2 pa4 tian1 bu2 pa4, ren2 shan4 ren2 qi1 tian1 bu4 qi1.)
 

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F

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Fail to steal a chicken, which instead ate up your bait.
(Chinese original: 偷鸡不成反蚀一把米。Chinese Pinyin: Tou1 ji1 bu4cheng2 fan3 shi1 yi1ba3 mi3.)
Kind of like "Shoot Your Own Feet". Starting out to hurt others but ending up in being hurt.
A fall into a ditch, a gain in your wit.
(Chinese original: 吃一堑长一智。Chinese Pinyin: Chi1 yi2 qian4 zhang3 yi2 zhi4.)
People learn from their mistakes.
Fallen leaves return to the root.
(Chinese original: 落叶归根。Chinese Pinyin: Luo4ye4 gui1 gen4.)
Wherever they are, Chinese would like to return to their motherland in their senior ages.
Fearing laws makes one happy every day; withholding truth from heaven worries one all the time.
(Chinese original: 惧法朝朝乐 欺天日日忧。Chinese Pinyin: Ju4 fa3 tian1 tian1 le4, qi1 tian1 ri4 ri4 you1.)
 
A feet can be shorter while an inch can be longer.
(Chinese original: 尺短寸长。Chinese Pinyin: Chi3 duan3 cun4 chang2.)
Compared with something longer, a feet may be shorter; compared with something shorter, an inch seems longer. Things are relative: everything has its merits and demerits.
Fifty steps laugh at a hundred steps.
(Chinese original: 五十步笑百步。Chinese Pinyin: Wu3 shi2 bu4 xiao4 yi1 bai3 bu4.)
Don't gloat over others' mistakes while you are making the same ones in a different fasion.
A fierce dog ruins a liquor store business.
(Chinese original: 狗猛酒酸。Chinese Pinyin: Gou3 meng3 jiu3 suan1.)
A once successful liquor store suddenly sees its business faltering: customers stop coming. Finally the owner realizes that it was his fierce dog that has scared them away. A bad company may drive other friends away. Another dog-related proverb that does injustice to the animal.
Fight poison with poison.
(Chinese original: 以毒攻毒。Chinese Pinyin: Yi3 du2 gong1 du2.)
Use the opponent's tactics to attack the opponent. Similar to "Fight fire with fire."
Fighting a wolf with a flex stalk - either side is afraid of the other.
(Chinese original: 麻秆打狼-两头怕。Chinese Pinyin: Ma2gan3 da3 lang2 - liang3tou2 pa4.)
Each party is fearful of the other: the wolf thought the stalk could be a fatal weapon while the person fears the consequence of his trick seen through by the wolf. Are you ever caught in a situation like this?
Fill in the eyes to a painted dragon.
(Chinese original: 画龙点睛。Chinese Pinyin: Hua4 long2 dian3 jing1.)
It is said that a famous Chinese painter painted four dragons without eyes. When asked, he explained that with eyes they would fly away. Incredulous, his friends insisted on his filling in the eyes. Sure enough, as soon as the painter added eyes to two of the dragons, they started flying away. This proverb is most often used to describe a situation where one who uses succinct remarks to summarize the gist of an article or a speech.
A filled bottle feels no content; a half-filled bottle can't stand. (see A bottle half filled (with vinegar) tends to rock. )
(Chinese original: 一瓶子不满,半瓶子晃。Chinese Pinyin: Yi4 ping2zi bu4 man3, ban4 ping2zi huang4.)
 
Fish a needle in the sea.
(Chinese original: 大海捞针。Chinese Pinyin: Da4 hai3 lao2 zhen1.)
Probably you have already thought of the English counterpart: looking for a "needle in a haystack."
Fish cannot survive in absolutely clear water.
(Chinese original: 水至清则无鱼。Chinese Pinyin: Shui3 zhi4 qing1 ze2 wu2 yu2.)
One should not demand absolute purity or perfectness.
Fish for the moon in the water.
(Chinese original: 水中捞月。Chinese Pinyin: Shui3 zhong1 lao1 yue4.)
It is a useless attempt.
Fish in muddled water.
(Chinese original: 混水摸鱼。Chinese Pinyin: Hun2 shui3 mo1 yu2.)
Take the advantage of a confused situation to make personal gains.
A flea on the top of a bald head - it is only too apparent.
(Chinese original: 秃子头上的虱子 - 明摆着的事。Chinese Pinyin: Tu1zi tou2shang de shi1zi - ming2 bai3 zhe de shi4.)
A crane is too obvious when it stands among a flock of chickens and looks very awkward. It is also true with a camel amidst a flock of sheep and a flea when it stands on top of a hairless head. They all carry a pejorative tone: the thing that out stands others is something awkward if not necessarily bad.
Flies never infest an egg without cracks.
(Chinese original: 苍蝇不叮无缝蛋。Chinese Pinyin: Cang1ying2 bu4 ding1 wu2 feng4 dan4.)
Cracked eggs that yield odors are as vulnerable to flies as problem children to gangs or bad company.
A flower you plant may not necessarily bloom; but the seed of a tree you happen to drop may grow into a forest.
(Chinese original: 有意栽花花不发,无意插柳柳成荫。Chinese Pinyin: You3 yi4 zai1 hua1 hua1 bu4 kai1, wu2 yi4 cha1 liu3 liu3 cheng2 yin1.)
This irony happens often in real life. For instance, one's spouse may not be the sweetheart one used to spent so much time and energy to woo. Some discoveries and inventions happen in the same manner: Coca Cola is for one.
Flowers look different in different eyes.
(Chinese original: 各花入各眼。Chinese Pinyin: Ge4 hua1 ru4 ge4 yan3.)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Flowing water never goes bad; door hubs never gather termites.
(Chinese original: 流水不腐,户枢不蠹。Chinese Pinyin: Liu2shui3 bu4 fu3, hu4shu1 bu2 du4.)
It means that people got to renew their knowledge not to stay behind. The English "Rolling stone gathers no moss" has a different meaning.
A flying moth throws itself into a fire.
(Chinese original: 飞蛾投火。Chinese Pinyin: Fei1 e2 tou2 huo3.)

To say one is a flying moth that throws itself into a fire is to say that he is looking for his own demise.
The following situations can test a genuine friendship from a fake one: life and death, poverty and wealth, and noble and humble family backgrounds..
(Chinese original: 一死一生,乃知交情;一贫一富,乃知交态;一贵一贱,交情乃见。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 sheng1 yi1 si3, nai3 zhi1 jiao1 qing2; yi1 pin2 yi1 fu4, nai3 zhi1 jiao1 tai4; yi1 gui4 yi1 jian4, jiao1 qing2 nai3 jian4.)
 
"The Foolish Old Man" Removes a Mountain.
(Chinese original: 愚公移山。Chinese Pinyin: Yu2gong1 yi2 shan1.)
The legend goes that an old man was leading his family in picking away at a mountain in front of his house. When passers-by thinking of him as foolish asked how could he accomplished this mission impossible, the "Foolish Old Man" replied that if his family and their posterity work ceaselessly generation after generation, the mountain would eventually be removed. For, he said, "The mountain will not grow. With each inch removed, it becomes an inch lesser." This proverb was once quoted by Mao Tse-tung to encourage the Chinese to fight the formidable Japanese invaders during WWII. The moral is, in dealing with a seemingly very difficult task, keep on working at it without fear, and you will eventually succeed.
Force tells weak from strong for a moment; truth tells right from wrong all the time.
(Chinese original: 一时强弱在于力,万古胜负在于理。Chinese Pinyin: Yi4shi2 qiang2 ruo4 zai4yu2 li4, wan4gu3 sheng4 fu4 zai4yu2 li3.)

 
Forget the fishing gear as soon as the fish is caught.
(Chinese original: 得鱼忘筌。Chinese Pinyin: De2 yu2 wang4 quan2.)
(An annotation is available here.)
Forget the means by which the end is attained.
A fox borrows the tiger's might.
(Chinese original: 狐假虎威。Chinese Pinyin: Hu3 jia3 hu3 wei1.)
A fox caught by a tiger struck an idea of survival. He led the tiger to parade among the other animals, who of course scampered for life as they came. The fox, however, made the tiger believe that the animals feared the fox instead of him. As a result, the tiger dared not eat the fox any more. The proverb says of a bully borrowing a bigger bully's might to intimidate others.
Foxes grieve over the death of rabbits.
(Chinese original: 兔死狐悲。Chinese Pinyin: Tu4 si3 hu2 bei1.)
The proverb is used derogatorily to refer to the forlornness that bad people feel upon learning the misfortune of their like.
A fragrant bloom is not necessarily a beautiful flower; an orator may not be a crackerjack.
(Chinese original: 花香不一定美丽,能说不一定会做。Chinese Pinyin: Hua1 xiang1 bu4 yi2ding4 mei3li4, neng2 shuo1 bu4 yi2ding4 hui4 zuo4.)
Action is better than oration.
Fragments of fox fur, sewn together, will make a robe.
(Chinese original: 集腋成裘。Chinese Pinyin: Ji2 ye4 cheng2 qiu2.)
"Many a little makes a mickle."
A friend made is a road paved; an enemy created is a wall built.
(Chinese original: 交个朋友多条路,树个敌人多堵墙。Chinese Pinyin: Jiao1 ge4 peng2you3 duo1 tiao2 lu4, shu4 ge4 di2ren2 duo1 du3 qiang2.)
How true: friends help while people you offend may turn out to be your liability. We should make more friends than enemies.
A frog in a well shaft
(Chinese original: 井底之蛙。Chinese Pinyin: Jing3 di2 zhi1 wa1.)
There is an argument between a bird who stopped to drank at a well and a frog therein. They were arguing about how the sky looked like. Regarding where they were, they each had a different view. The frog's vision was of course very limited. Therefore, this proverb refers to somebody who has a very narrow-minded and insulated view of what they see or what they think.
Fruits of the same tree have different tastes; children of the same mother have various qualities.
(Chinese original: 一树之果,有酸有甜;一母之子,有愚有贤。Chinese Pinyin: Yi2 shu4 zhi1 guo3 you3 suan1 you3 tian2, yi1 mu3 zhi1 zi3 you3 yu2 you3 xian2.)
 

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G

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
The gate of charity is hard to open nor close; a guest is easy to invite but hard to turn away.
(Chinese original: 善门难开,善门难闭; 招之则来,推之不去。Chinese Pinyin: Shan4 men2 nan2 kai1, shan4 men2 nan2 bi4. Zhao1 zhi1 ze2 lai2, tui1 zhi1 bu2 qu4.)
When offering charity or help, be cautious of people that may take advantage of you.
A girl apes her neighbor's frowning.
(Chinese original: 东施效颦。Chinese Pinyin: Dong1shi1 xiao4 pin4.)
A beauty is beautiful even when she was sick and frowned all day. A homely girl in her neighborhood tried to ape her frowning thinking that she could become pretty but instead made herself look uglier.
Give it to the Yangtze that rambles east to the sea.
(Chinese original: 付诸东流。Chinese Pinyin: Fu4 zhu1 dong1 liu2.)
When you give something to the Yangtze that brings it to the waters, then everything you have been doing is in vain.
Give one fish and he's fed for only a day. Teach one how to fish and he'll be free from hunger all his life.
(Chinese original: 授人以鱼只救一时之急,授人以渔则解一生之需。Chinese Pinyin: Shou4 ren2 yi3 yu2 zhi3 jiu4 yi1 shi2 zhi1 ji2, shou4 ren2 yi3 yu2 ze2 jie3 yi1 sheng1 zhi1 xu1..)
"God help those who help themselves." Wouldn't be better to enable one to help themselves?
A good fortune may forebode a bad luck, which may in turn disguise a good fortune.
(Chinese original: 祸兮福所依,福兮祸所依。Chinese Pinyin: Huo4 xi1 fu2 suo3 yi1, fu2 xi1 huo4 suo3 yi1.)
Do not over rejoice over good fortune and be over dejected by a mishap. There are always the unforeseeable turns for the better or worse.
A governor may commit arson while the governed are not allowed to light a lamp.
(Chinese original: 只许州官放火,不许百姓点灯。Chinese Pinyin: Zhi3 xu3 zhou1guan1 fang4 huo3, bu4 xu3 bai3xing4 dian3 ding1.)
One may steal a horse while another may not look over the hedge. A bully may do whatever he wants but won't bear the sight of others doing a fraction of what he is doing.
Good will be rewarded with good and evil with evil; it is only a matter of time.
(Chinese original: 善恶到头终有报 只等来早与来迟。Chinese Pinyin: Shan4 e4 dao4 tou2 zhong1 you3 bao4, zhi3 deng3 lai2 zao3 yu4 lai2 chi2.)
"What goes around comes around."
Guard against disgrace in times of favor; be prepared for danger in times of safety.
(Chinese original: 得宠思辱,安居思危。Chinese Pinyin: De2 chong3 si1 ru3, an1 ju1 si1 wei1.)
 

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H

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Harmony makes both a family and a nation prosperous.
(Chinese original: 家和日子旺,国和万事兴。Chinese Pinyin: Jia1 he2 ri4zi4 wang4; guo2 he2 wan4 shi4 xing1.)
 
Have a mouth as sharp as a dagger but a heart as soft as tofu.
(Chinese original: 刀子嘴豆腐心。Chinese Pinyin: Dao1zi zui3 dou4fu xin1.)
Extremely difficulty and dangerous situation.
Have one's ears pierced only before the wedding ceremony starts.
(Chinese original: 临上轿现扎耳朵眼儿。Chinese Pinyin: Lin2 shang4 jiao4 xian4 zha1 er3duo yan3r.)
It is a criticism of procrastination. Like a bride who waited till the last minute to get things done that should have been done earlier. It also has the connotation that it might be too late to wait till the last minute.
He who plays with fire may become its victim.
(Chinese original: 玩火自焚。Chinese Pinyin: Wan2 huo3 zi4 fen2.)
An evil doer will eventually end up being punished.
He who stays near vermilion gets stained red; he who stays near ink gets stained black.
(Chinese original: 近朱者赤,近墨者黑。Chinese Pinyin: Jin4 zhu1 zhe3 chi4, jin4 mo4 zhe3 hei1.)
One takes on the color of his company.
Heaven gives full protection to those with good will.
(Chinese original: 人有善愿 天毕佑之。Chinese Pinyin: Ren2 you3 shan4 yuan4, tian1 bi4 you4 zhi1.)
 
Help the needy but not the poor.
(Chinese original: 救急不救穷。Chinese Pinyin: Jiu4 ji2 bu4 jiu4 qiong2.)
There are too many poor people to help. Those who are in dire need are the ones that need your help the most.
A honeyed mouth hides a daggered heart.
(Chinese original: 口蜜腹剑。Chinese Pinyin: Gou3 na2 hao4zi4 -- Kou3 mi4 fu4 jian4.)
Beware of this "kiss of death."
Hidden dragons, crouching tigers.
(Chinese original: 藏龙卧虎。Chinese Pinyin: Cang2 long2 wo4 hu3.)
When you say some place has "hidden dragons and crouching tigers" you mean that that place has able people who are kept willingly or unwillingly in a low profile. The proverb is usually used to advise people not to take a place like that lightly.
Hit a stone with an egg.
(Chinese original: 以卵击石。Chinese Pinyin: Yi3 luan3 ji1 shi2.)
Overrate one's power and gets defeated because of it.
Honing your hatchet will not delay your effort of wood cutting.
(Chinese original: 磨刀不误砍柴工。Chinese Pinyin: Mo2 dao1 bu2 wu4 kan3 chai2 gong1.)
It seems to take some time to do a good preparation for doing, but it pays off in the long run.
A horse cannot gain weight if not fed with extra fodder during the night; a man cannot become wealthy without earnings apart from his regular salaries.
(Chinese original: 马无夜草不肥,人无外快不富。Chinese Pinyin: Ma3 wu2 ye4 cao3 bu4 fei2, ren2 wu2 wai4 kuai4 bu2 fu4.)
One needs to find income beyond his regular salary. This proverb is often used by those who try to justify their efforts to get more wealth through unlawful means.
How can you expect to find ivory in a dog's mouth?
(Chinese original: 狗嘴里吐不出象牙。Chinese Pinyin: Gou3 zui3li3 tu3 bu1 chu1 xiang4ya2.)
True, that is an impossibility. The connotation is you can not expect people of evil intent to utter anything good. By the way, in the Chinese culture, dogs are almost always negative in allusions.
How can you put out a fire set on a cart-load of firewood with only a cup of water?
(Chinese original: 杯水车薪。Chinese Pinyin: Bei1 shui3 che1 xin1.)
It is useless to apply minor remedies to a major problem.

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I

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
If a son is uneducated, his dad is to blame.
(Chinese original: 子不教,父之过。Chinese Pinyin: Zi3 bu2 jiao4, fu4 zhi1 guo4.)
Parents are important in their kids' education.
If the lips are gone, the teeth will grow cold.
(Chinese original: 唇亡齿寒。Chinese Pinyin: Chun2 wang2 chi3 han2.)
Two parties share a common interest. If one is hurt, the other will, too.
If you do not study hard when young you'll end up bewailing your failures as you grow up.
(Chinese original: 少小不努力,老大徒伤悲。Chinese Pinyin: Shao4 xiao3 bu4 nu3li4, lao3 da4 tu2 shang1bei1.)
Used to encourage children to study hard.
If you have never done anything wrong, you should not be worrying about devils to knock at your door.
(Chinese original: 无事不怕鬼叫门。Chinese Pinyin: Wu2 shi4 bu2 pa4 gui3 jiao4 men2.)
Same as "If you have not done anything evil, you should not worry too much": the good/regular always overwhelms the bad/irregular though in real life it is not necessarily so.
An image of a bamboo has already been formed in mind before it is committed to the painting canvas.
(Chinese original: 胸有成竹 or 成竹在胸。Chinese Pinyin: Xiong1 you3 cheng2 zhu2, or Cheng2 zhu2 zai4 xiong1.)
One is certain about something to happen. Incidentally, it was said that there was once a translator who translated the proverb word for word as "a bamboo stick in the bosom" that made himself a laughing stock.
In face of evil, one would rather be a jade broken than a brick intact.
(Chinese original: 逢奸宁可玉碎 气正不求瓦全。Chinese Pinyin: Feng2 jian1 ning4 ke3 yu4 sui4, qi4 zheng4 bu4 qiu2 wa3 quan2.)
One would rather die than surrender.
An inch of time is an inch of gold but you can't buy that inch of time with an inch of gold.
(Chinese original: 一寸光阴一寸金,寸金难买寸光阴。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 cun4 guang1yin1 yi1 cun4 jin1; cun4 jin1 nan2 mai3 cun4 guang1yin1.)
Disregard the different use of unit words describing nouns in different cultures. This proverb tells the truth that time is more valuable than money. Money spent or lost can be earned; time lost is lost for good. No money can buy it back. The motto is that we got to make good use of our time.
It does not matter if your tavern sits in a remote location so long as the smell of your wine is appealing.
(Chinese original: 酒香不怕巷子深。Chinese Pinyin: Jiu3 xiang1 bu2 pa4 xiang4zi shen1.)
Superb quality of your product or service compensates for other shortcomings.
It is better to start weaving your fishing nets than merely coveting fish at the water.
(Chinese original: 临渊羡鱼,不如退而结网。Chinese Pinyin: Lin2 yuan1 mu4 yu2, bu4 ru2 tui4 er3 jie2 wang3.)
One should act than daydream.
It is easy to dodge a spear that comes in front of you but hard to avoid an arrow shot from behind.
(Chinese original: 明枪易躲,暗箭难防。Chinese Pinyin: Ming2qiang1 yi4 duo3, an4jian4 nan2 fang2.)
It is easier to guard against the obvious.
It is impossible to add much weight with a single morsel; it is hard to travel afar with a single step.
(Chinese original: 一口吃不成胖子,一步跨不到天边。Chinese Pinyin: Yi4kou3 chi1 bu1 cheng2 pang4zi3, yi2bu4 kua4 bu2 dao4 tian1 bian1.)
One can't expect success overnight. Used to encourage people to work hard instead of seeking an impossible shortcut.
It is too late for a galloping horse to stop at a clip; it is useless for a sinking boat to be mended in the middle of a river.
(Chinese original: 马到悬崖收疆晚, 船至江心补漏迟。Chinese Pinyin: Ma3 dao4 xuan2ya2 shou1 jiang1 wan3, chuan2 dao4 jiang1xin1 bu3 lou4 chi2.)
Usually it is to advise people to quit bad habbits and behaviors before it is too late.
It takes one three years to learn to be a man of integrity; it only takes him three days to degrade.
(Chinese original: 学好三年, 学坏三天。Chinese Pinyin: Xue2 hao3 san1nian2, xue2 huai4 san1tian1.)
It is much easier to become corrupted.

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J

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
A jade stone is useless before it is processed; a man is good-for-nothing until he is educated.
(Chinese original: 玉不琢不成器,人不教难成材。Chinese Pinyin: Yu4 bu4 zhuo1 bu4 cheng2 qi4, ren2 bu2 jiao4 nan2 cheng2 cai2.)
It is an emphasis on the need of education.

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K

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Keep the box but return the jewelry after purchasing them.
(Chinese original: 买椟还珠。Chinese Pinyin: Mai3 du2 huan2 zhu1.)
Whoever does this must lack judgment, appreciating things of less value.
Kill a chicken before a monkey.
(Chinese original: 杀鸡给猴看。Chinese Pinyin: Sha1 ji1 gei3 hou2 kan4.)
To warn the many by punishing a few.
Kill a hen to get the egg.
(Chinese original: 杀鸡取卵。Chinese Pinyin: Sha1 ji1 qu3 lüan3.)
Same as above.
Kill one to warn a hundred.
(Chinese original: 杀一儆百。Chinese Pinyin: Sha1 yi1 jing3 bai3.)
To warn the many by punishing a few.
Kill two vultures with one arrow.
(Chinese original: 一箭双雕。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 jian4 shuang1 diao1.)
“Kill two birds with one stone.“

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L

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Learn from other's strong points to offset one's shortcomings.
(Chinese original: 取长补短。Chinese Pinyin: Qu3 chang2 bu3 duan3.)
 
Learning how the Handan residents walk.
(Chinese original: 邯郸学步。Chinese Pinyin: Han2dan1 xue2 bu4.)
A man hated the way he walked and decided to learn how people in the city of Handan carried themselves. The result was, however, not only did he fail to learn the new style, but he also forgot his own way of walking. He could only but crawl back to his hometown and became a laughing stock. The moral is that one should use critical thinking rather than blindly following others' models. Copying others without applying what is useful to one's practical needs can only make things worse.
A life with love is happy; a life for love is foolish.
(Chinese original: 生活有爱幸福,为爱生活愚蠢。Chinese Pinyin: Sheng1huo2 you3 ai4 xing4fu2, wei4 ai4 sheng1huo2 yu2chun3.)
 
Lift a stone only to drop on your own feet.
(Chinese original: 搬起石头砸自己的脚。Chinese Pinyin: Ban1qi3 shi2tou2 za2 zi4ji3 de jiao3.)
Isn't it similar to "Shoot your gun at your own foot"?
Like neither a donkey nor a horse.
(Chinese original: 非驴非马。Chinese Pinyin: Fei1 lü2 fei1 ma3.)
If something one has created is like neither animals, then it must be something awkward and laughable.
Like ants gnawing at a bone.
(Chinese original: 蚂蚁啃骨头。Chinese Pinyin: Ma3yi3 ken3 gu2tou2.)
A metaphor describing a situation where people trying an overwhelmingly big task by doing bit by bit with perseverance.
Like bamboo shoots after rain.
(Chinese original: 雨后春笋。Chinese Pinyin: Yu3 hou4 chun1 sun3.)
Grow like mushrooms.
Living at a river, one comes to know the nature of the fish therein; Dwelling by a mountain, one learns to recognize the language of the birds thereupon.
(Chinese original: 近水知鱼性,近山识鸟音。Chinese Pinyin: Jin4 shui3 zhi1 yu2 xing4, jin4 shan1 shi2 niao3 yin1.)
Familiarity and vicinity breed more understanding.
A long march starts from the very first step.
(Chinese original: 千里之行,始于足下。Chinese Pinyin: Qian1li3 zhi1 xing2 shi3 yu2 zu2 xia4.)
Success does not come from nothing, instead it comes from concrete hard work.
The longer the night lasts, the more our dreams will be.
(Chinese original: 夜长梦多。Chinese Pinyin: Ye4 chang2 meng4 duo1.)
The longer we stay in a disadvantageous position, the more risks we'll take.
Look at a leopard through a pipe.
(Chinese original: 管中窥豹。Chinese Pinyin: Guan3 zhong1 kui4 bao4.)
You can add to the rest through your imagination. This proverb means that one can tell the entirety by looking at part of it. Note, it has a commendatory rather than a derogatory connotation.
Looking for a donkey on its very back.
(Chinese original: 骑驴找驴。Chinese Pinyin: Qi2 lü2 zhao3 lü2.)
Looking for something as if it were missing while it is just under one's nose.
Lord Ye's professed love of dragons turned into his worst fear.
(Chinese original: 叶公好龙。Chinese Pinyin: Ye4gong1 hao4 long2.)
A Lord Ye professed that he loved dragons. To prove it, he drew dragons everywhere. When the real dragons paid him a visit, he was scared to death. One may not do what he claims to be interested in doing.
The lotus root may be severed, but its fibered threads are still connected.
(Chinese original: 藕断丝连。Chinese Pinyin: Ou3 duan4 si1 lian2.)
Something apparently severed but actually connected, such as a human relationship."
Love my house, love the crow on it.
(Chinese original: 爱屋及乌。Chinese Pinyin: Ai4 wu1 ji2 wu1.)
The crow may be ugly, but love it if your really love my house. A close English counterpart of this proverb is "Love me, love my dog."
Lure a tiger out of its mountain.
(Chinese original: 调虎离山。Chinese Pinyin: Diao4 hu3 li2 shan1.)
Lure an enemy out of its well defended base to annihilate it.

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M

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Make a decision when a decision is called for. Hesitation only brings disaster.
(Chinese original: 当断不断,反受其乱。Chinese Pinyin: Dang1 duan4 bu2 duan4, fan3 shou4 qi2 luan4.)
 
A man's greed is like a snake that wants to swallow an elephant.
(Chinese original: 人心不足蛇吞象。Chinese Pinyin: Ren2 xin1 bu4 zu2 she2 tun1 xiang4.)
You can never tell what one really thinks. Sincerity shows through one's actions rather than words and appearance.
A man's heart is indiscernible behind his chest.
(Chinese original: 人心隔肚皮。Chinese Pinyin: Ren2 xin1 ge2 du4 pi2.)
(A similar proverb: You may know someone by his appearance, but you may never know what he thinks. 知人知面不知心: Zhi1 ren2 zhi1 mian4 bu4 zhi1 xin1.)
You can never tell what one really thinks. Sincerity shows through one's actions rather than words and appearance.
A man of honor will feel ashamed by a single question to which he does not know the answer.
(Chinese original: 一事不知,君子之耻。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 shi4 bu4 zhi1, jun1zi3 zhi1 chi3.)
This is to encourage people to learn everything he can and be ashamed at not knowing even one bit of what they have learned.
A mantis stalking a cicada is unaware of an oriole behind.
(Chinese original: 螳螂捕蝉,黄雀在后。Chinese Pinyin: Tang2lang2 bu3 chan2, huang2que4 zai4 hou4.)
While coveting gains ahead, one should be aware of the danger behind.
Making a thousand decisions, even the wise will make a mistake.
(Chinese original: 智者千虑 必有一失。Chinese Pinyin: Zhi4zhe3 qian1 lü4, bi4 you3 yi1 shi1.)
Homer sometimes nods.
Marking the Boat to Seek One's Sword.
(Chinese original: 刻舟求剑。Chinese Pinyin: Ke4 zhou1 qiu2 jian4.)
A man on a ferry accidentally dropped his sword into the water. Immediately did he make a mark on the side of the boat at the position where sword was dropped. When puzzled fellow travelers asked why he did so, he answered that this would help him locate the lost weapon. Of course he would never succeed as the boat was in the move. This is to satirize those who take actions without regard to changes in circumstances.
A melon forced off its vine is not sweet.
(Chinese original: 强扭的瓜不甜。Chinese Pinyin: Qiang2 niu3 de gua1 bu4 tian2.)
"You can lead a horse to the water, but you can't make it drink." For that matter, a forced marriage is not happy and examples can be listed endlessly.
Mend the pen only after the sheep are all gone.
(Chinese original: 亡羊补牢。Chinese Pinyin: Wang2 yang2 bu3 lao2.)
Some say it is too late. Some say, well, if you learn a lesson, it is not necessarily late: no more sheep will flee. It is better than if you leave the pen broken at all. Therefore people use the proverb to either purpose.
A minimal error at the start leads to a wide divergence in the distance.
(Chinese original: 差之毫厘,谬以千里。Chinese Pinyin: Cha4 zhi1 hao2li2, miu4 yi3 qian1li3.)
As in the launch of a rocket, a small error can lead to a serious result.
Mistaking the reflection of a bow in a cup for a snake.
(Chinese original: 杯弓蛇影。Chinese Pinyin: Bei1 gong1 she2 ying3.)
A guest got sick after he was scared by what he had seen in a wine vessel at his friend's home. The snake he had seen was actually the shadow of a bow hanging on the wall. This proverb asks us not to scare ourselves with something we don't know.
The more you try to cover things up, the more exposed they will be.
(Chinese original: 欲盖弥彰。Chinese Pinyin: Dao1 shan1 huo3 hai3.)
 
A mountain of knives and a sea of fire.
(Chinese original: 刀山火海。Chinese Pinyin: Dao1 shan1 huo3 hai3.)
Extremely difficulty and dangerous situation.
A mouse-catching dog steps on the cats' paws.
(Chinese original: 狗拿耗子-- 多管闲事。Chinese Pinyin: Gou3 na2 hao4zi4 -- duo1 guan3 xian2shi4.)
Despite the fact that dogs do catch mice, people still believe that is the business of cats'. Therefore, this proverb refers to someone who is too inquisitive and cares about things that are none of his business.
A mouse's vision is an inch long.
(Chinese original: 鼠目寸光。Chinese Pinyin: Shu3 mu4 cun4 guang1.)
If one has such "vision," he sees only short-term benefits that may jeopardize long-term interests.

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N

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Never harbor the intent to victimize others; but never let guard down against being victimized.
(Chinese original: 害人之心不可有,防人之心不可無。Chinese Pinyin: Hai4 ren2 zhi1 xin1 bu4 ke3 you3, fang2 ren2 zhi1 xin1 bu4 ke3 wu2.)
 
No banquet in the world that never ends.
(Chinese original: 天下没有不散的宴席。Chinese Pinyin: Tian1xia4 mei2you3 bu4 san4 de yan4xi2.)
Nothing in the world is eternal. Friendship, relations and a good time are no exceptions
Notoriety travels farther away.
(Chinese original: 臭名远扬。Chinese Pinyin: Chou4ming2 yuan3 yang2.)
 
No wind, no waves.
(Chinese original: 无风不起浪。Chinese Pinyin: Wu2 feng1 bu4 qi3 lang4.)
How about "There is no fire without smoke."? The assumption here is that rumors may have some grounds.

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O

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Of all the thirty-six stratagems, to know when to quit is the best.
(Chinese original: 三十六计,走为上策。Chinese Pinyin: San1-shi2 liu4 ji4, zou3 wei2 shang4 ce4.)
The literary translation of the original is "Of the thirty-six stratagems, running away is the best." "The Thirty-Six Stratagems" are believed to have covered almost all the military strategic thinking Sun Zi, another greatest military strategist in ancient Chinese history, expounded in his thirteen chapter monograph, which has been regarded as the bible of the military in Chinese history and has now been seen very useful in business in Asia as well.
On the same boat in a tempest.
(Chinese original: 风雨同舟。Chinese Pinyin: Feng1 yu3 tong2 zhou1.)
Going through hardships together.
Once bitten by a snake, one is scared all his life at the mere sight of a rope.
(Chinese original: 一朝遭蛇咬,十年怕井绳。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 nian2 zao1 she2 yao3, shi2 nian2 pa4 jing3 sheng2.)
A word by word translation of the original is "Bitten by a snake this year, he'll be scared of well ropes in the next ten." In days when people had to draw water from wells instead of getting it from the tab, ropes, which bear resemblance in appearance to snakes, were a dispensable utility. The proverb decries those who are discouraged by their first failure and are afraid of trying again.
Once a tree falls, the monkeys on it will scatter.
(Chinese original: 树倒猢狲散。Chinese Pinyin: Shu4 dao3 hu2sun1 san4.)
When a person of influence lost his favor, those associated with him will abandon him.
Once on a tiger's back, it is hard to alight.
(Chinese original: 骑虎难下。Chinese Pinyin: Qi2 hu3 nan2 xia4.)
Once you take on a thorny task, you'll find it hard to get rid of it
One bee makes no honey; one grain makes no rice soup.
(Chinese original: 一只蜂酿不成蜜,一颗米熬不成粥。Yi4zhi1 feng1 niang4 bu4 cheng2 mi4; yi4ke1 mi3 ao2 bu4 cheng2 zhou2.)
An individual's effort is limited.
One cannot refuse to eat just because there is a chance of being choked.
(Chinese original: 因噎废食。Chinese Pinyin: Yin1 ye4 fei4 shi2.)
You can't refuse to do the thing you need to just because there is a slight chance to fail.
One failure leads to another; so does success.
(Chinese original: 一损俱损,一荣俱荣。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 sun3 ju4 sun3, yi1 rong2 ju4 rong2.)
It is usually true among people who share the same interest and lot.
One dog snarls at a shadow; a hundred howl at each other’s barking.
(Chinese original: 一犬吠影,百犬吠声。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 quan3 fei4 sheng1, bai3 quan3 fei4 sheng1.)
Blindly follow a trend without even knowing what it is.
One justice can overpower a hundred evils.
(Chinese original: 一正压百邪。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 zheng4 ya1 bai3 xie2.)
We always believe in the power of justice.
One monk shoulders water by himself; two can still share the labor between them. When it comes to three, they have to go thirsty.
(Chinese original: 一个和尚挑水喝,两个和尚抬水喝,三个和尚没水喝。Chinese Pinyin: Yi2ge4 he2shang4 tiao1 shui3 he1, liang3ge4 he2shang4 tai2 shui3 he1, san1ge4 he2shang4 mei2 shui3 he1.)
It is a scenario where lack of individual initiative could breed dependence upon each other so that the more people the lesser things are done.
One never comes to pray in the Temple of Three Treasures if he is not in trouble.
(Chinese original: 无事不登三宝殿。Chinese Pinyin: Wu2 shi4 bu1 deng1 san1bao3dian4.)
When someone who rarely contacts you suddenly comes to you and you know what he is come to, you will say this to yourself.
One palm makes no applause; one actor finds it hard to performs a drama.
(Chinese original: 一个巴掌拍不响,一人难唱独板腔。Chinese Pinyin: Yi2ge4 ba1zhang3 pai1 bu4 xiang3; yi2ge4 ren2 nan2 chang4 du2ban3xi4.)
This is an admonishment against both parties in a dispute: the dispute would be impossible without either party.
One’s skills are his inexhaustible treasure keeping him from hunger wherever he goes.
(Chinese original: 手艺是活宝,天下饿不倒。Chinese Pinyin: Shou3yi4 shi4 huo2bao3, tian1xia4 e4 bu4 dao3.)
(Similar proverb is One’s skills never weigh him down: 艺不压身, Chinese Pinyin: Yi4 bu4 ya1 shen1)
Used to encourage people to acquire more skills so that they can always be marketable.
One thing well done is a hundred done; one thing that fails dooms the rest.
(Chinese original: 一事精,百事精;一无成,百无成。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 shi4 jing1, bai3 shi4 jing1; yi1 wu2 cheng3, bai3 wu2 cheng2.)
If one is capable of accomplishing one thing, he is likely to accomplish many more or vice versa.
One who knows the limit knows true happiness.
(Chinese original: 知足者常乐。Chinese Pinyin: Zhi1 zu2 zhe3 chang2 le4.)
Insatiability is the source of unhappiness as one can never feel satisfied.
One who walks along a river frequently cannot avoid getting his shoes wet.
(Chinese original: 常在河边走,哪能不湿鞋。Chinese Pinyin: Chang2 zai4 he2bian1 zou3, na3 neng2 bu4 shi1 xie2.)
It happens.
One’s own meat dishes are not as delicious as other’s vegetarian ones.
(Chinese original: 自家的肉不香,人家的菜有味。Chinese Pinyin: Zi4 jia1 de rou4 bu4 xiang1, ren2jia2 de cai4 you3 wei4.)
One is always ungrateful for one already has.
One’s son is clever while the neighbor is suspicious.
(Chinese original: 智子疑邻。Chinese Pinyin: Zhi4 zi3 yi2 lin2.)
One’s judgment is marred by his emotions. The story behind this proverb goes like this. A man of wealth found a wall of his house damaged by a heavy rain. His son warned him against theft if he procrastinated its repair. Meanwhile, a neighbor gave him the same warning. Sure enough, the house was broken in that night. Despite the same warning, the man of wealth thought of his son as intelligent while approached the neighbor as a suspect of the crime.
Only when all contribute their firewood can they build up a strong fire.
(Chinese original: 众人拾柴火焰高。Chinese Pinyin: Zhong4ren2 shi2 chai2 huo3yan4 gao1.)
Another way of saying "United and we can stand strong."
An overcrowded chicken farm produce fewer eggs.
(Chinese original: 鸡多不下蛋,人多打瞎乱。Chinese Pinyin: Ji1 duo1 bu2 xia4 dan4, ren2 duo1 da3 xia1 luan4.)
Scientifically, it may not be true. But the connotation of this proverb is that when too many people try to do one thing, it proves less efficient. A similar English proverb goes: "The more the eggs, the worse the hatch."

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P

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Paper can't wrap up a fire.
(Chinese original: 纸里包不住火。Chinese Pinyin: Zhi3 li3 bao1 bu2 zhu4 huo3.)
How true: it will burn it self out as truth will eventually reveals itself despite cover ups.
Pass off a fish eye for a pearl.
(Chinese original: 鱼目混珠。Chinese Pinyin: Yu2 mu4 hun4 zhu1.)
Sell, use or present the fake or sham instead of the genuine.
Pass oneself off as one of the Yu pipe players in an ensemble.
(Chinese original: 滥竽充数。Chinese Pinyin: Lan4 yu2 chong1 shu4.)
Hold a post without adequate qualifications.
Perseverance can reduce an iron rod to a sewing needle.
(Chinese original: 铁杵磨成针。Chinese Pinyin: Tie3 chu3 mo2 cheng2 zhen1.)
Legend goes that young Li Bai, who later became one of the most renowned Tang poet in Chinese literary history, was tired of reading and wandered out. At a riverside he saw an elderly woman honing an iron rod. When he learned that the woman was trying to reduce the rod to a sewing needle, he was astonished. In replay to his doubtful query, the woman said that so long as she persevered in working at it, it would eventually become a needle. Li Bai learned the moral and began studying hard. And you?
A person cannot be judged by his appearance in the same token as the sea cannot be measured with a bucket.
(Chinese original: 人不可貌相,海水不可斗量。Chinese Pinyin: Ren2 bu4ke3 mao4 xiang4; hai3shui3 bu4ke3 dou3 liang2.)
Appearance is deceiving: you’ll never know how capable and/or how powerful he may be.
A person moves up while water runs down.
(Chinese original: 人往高处走,水往低处流。Chinese Pinyin: Ren2 wang3 gao1 chu4 zou3, shui3 wang3 di1 chu4 liu2.)
One should never give up efforts to improve oneself, whether morally or financially.
(As rare as ) phoenix feather and unicorn horns.
(Chinese original: 凤毛麟角。Chinese Pinyin: Feng4 mao2 lin2 jiao3.)
According to Chinese legends, phoenix's feather and unicorn's horns are the rarest things one can find in the world.
Pick up a sesame seed only to lose a watermelon.
(Chinese original: 捡了芝麻,丢了西瓜。Chinese Pinyin: Jian3 le zhi1ma2, diu1 le xi1gua1.)
Concentrate on small matters to the expense of more important ones.
Play a harp before a cow.
(Chinese original: 对牛弹琴。Chinese Pinyin: Dui4 niu2 tan2 qin2.)
Similar to "Cast pearls to a swine."
Pluck flowers as they bloom; wait and you'll have only the twigs.
(Chinese original: 花开堪折直需折,莫待无花空折枝。Chinese Pinyin: Hua1 kai1 kan1 zhe2 zhi2 xu1 zhe2, mo4 dai4 wu2 hua1 kong1 zhe2 zhi1.)
Strike the iron while it is hot. Seize the opportunity that comes by; do not wait till it is gone.
Point at the mulberry and abuse the pagoda tree.
(Chinese original: 指桑骂槐。Chinese Pinyin: Zhi3 sang1 ma4 huai2.)
This is very subtle: the abuser tries to make his or her abuse felt by the abused and yet hopes to get away with it by pretending to abuse someone or something else. For instance, when a kid got into a fight with another in the neighborhood, the parent of the kid intervened pretending to scold her own child but the vituperation was actually meant for the neighbor's child.
Pouring water from above the roof of a tall building.
(Chinese original: 高屋建瓴。Chinese Pinyin: Gao1 wu1 jian4 ling2.)
If someone can pour water from the top of a roof, he is in an extremely advantageous position.
Prescribe the right medicine for a symptom.
(Chinese original: 对症下药。Chinese Pinyin: Dui4 zheng4 xia4 yao4.)
Take the right measures to tackle a problem to achieve the best result.
Present Buddha with borrowed flowers.
(Chinese original: 借花献佛。Chinese Pinyin: Jie4 hua1 xian4 fo2.)
You say "I am presenting Buddha with borrowed flowers" to someone with whom you present a gift that someone else has given to you. It is a humorous way of mitigating the awkwardness. You get away easily as you compare the receiver of the gift to Buddha, which shows a lot of respect albeit its lack of seriousness.
Put one person's hat on another's head.
(Chinese original: 张冠李戴。Chinese Pinyin: Zhang1 guan1 li3 dai4.)
Confuse one thing with another.
Putting out a fire while holding firewood.
(Chinese original: 抱薪救火。Chinese Pinyin: Bao4 xin1 jiu4 huo3.)
It only made the fire worse. Improper solution of a problem does not solve but instead aggravate the problem.

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R

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Rabbits do not eat the grass around their burrows.
(Chinese original: 兔子不吃窝边草。Chinese Pinyin: Tu4zi bu4 chi1 wo1bian1 cao3.)
The proverb is used derogatorily. It is believed that a villain usually does not harm his neighbors.
Read critically, and you will find each word worth a thousand ounces of gold.
(Chinese original: 2、 读书须用意,一字值千金。Chinese Pinyin: Du2 shu1 xu1 yong4 yi4, yi1 zi4 zhi2 qian1 jin1.)
 
Regular feet can't be affected by irregular shoes.
(Chinese original: 脚正不怕鞋歪。Chinese Pinyin: Jiao3 zheng4 bu2 pa4 xie2 wai1.)
Same as "If you have not done anything evil, you should not worry too much": the good/regular always overwhelms the bad/irregular though in real life it is not necessarily
Rein in a horse at the edge of a cliff.
(Chinese original: 悬崖勒马。Chinese Pinyin: Xuan2ya2 le4 ma3.)
Waken up to a danger at the last moment.
Remove firewood from under a pot.
(Chinese original: 釜底抽薪。Chinese Pinyin: Fu3 di3 chou1 xin1.)
Solve a problem thoroughly.
Reshape one's feet to fit into new shoes.
(Chinese original: 削足适履。Chinese Pinyin: Xue1 zu2 shi4 lü3.)
The logic should be the other way round. Yet, in life there are people who try to sacrifice the big for the small, the important for the trivial.
Steer one's boat where the winds lead.
(Chinese original: 看风使舵。Chinese Pinyin: Kan4 feng1 shi3 duo4.)
This proverb critisizes the opportunists who make their decisions according to different situations.
A resourceful man knows to avoid a disadvantageous situation close at hand.
(Chinese original: 好汉不吃眼前亏。Chinese Pinyin: Hao3 han4 bu4 chi1 yan3qian2 kui1.)
An unprepared confrontation will only end up in one's defeat. In that situation, avoid it
Respect out of fear is never genuine; reverence out of respect is never false.
(Chinese original: 打怕的人是假的,敬怕的人是真的。Chinese Pinyin: Da3 pa4 de ren2 shi4 jia3 de; jing4 pa4 de ren2 shi4 zhen1 de.)
 
Riddance of evil must be thorough.
(Chinese original: 除恶务尽。Chinese Pinyin: Chu2 e4 wu4 jin4.)
 
Ruthlessness is key to a man's accomplishment.
(Chinese original: 无毒不丈夫。Chinese Pinyin: Wu2 du2 bu4 zhang4fu1.)
Unfortunately history proves it to be true again and again, particularly among statesmen and politicians.

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S

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Sail when there is favorable wind; strike it when the iron is hot.
(Chinese original: 行船趁顺风,打铁趁火红。Chinese Pinyin: Xing2 chuan2 chen4 shun4feng1; da3tie3 chen4 hong2huo3.)
 
Scholars are invaluable to a nation as the best course to a banquet.
(Chinese original: 士者国之宝,儒为席上珍。Chinese Pinyin: Shi4 zhe3 guo2 zhong1 bao3, ru2 wei2 xi2 shang4 zhen1.)
 
Scratching an itch from outside the boot.
(Chinese original: 隔靴搔痒。Chinese Pinyin: Ge2 xue1 sao1 yang3.)
To scratch one's itch with boots on is to attempt a very ineffective solution to a problem.
Seek fish on a tree.
(Chinese original: 缘木求鱼。Chinese Pinyin: Yuan2 mu4 qiu2 yu2.)
Apparently it is a fruitless effort.
Seeing once is better than hearing a hundred times.
(Chinese original: 百闻不如一见。Chinese Pinyin: Bai3 wen2 bu4 ru2 yi2 jian4.)
Seeing is believing.
Send charcoal in a snow storm.
(Chinese original: 雪里送炭。Chinese Pinyin: Xue3 li3 song4 tan4.)
Offer help when help is needed.
Shed no tears until seeing the coffin.
(Chinese original: 不见棺材不落泪。Chinese Pinyin: Bu2 jian4 guan1cai2 bu2 luo4 lei4.)
(Similar proverb: Not giving up until one reaches the Yellow River. 不到黄河不死心: Bu2 dao4 Huang2he2 bu4 si3xin1.)
Will not give up an inevitably losing battle until the last minute. It is a burlesque of the stubbornness and stupidity of people who would not stop until it is too late
Shoot at someone's shadow with sand.
(Chinese original: 含沙射影。Chinese Pinyin: Han2 sha1 she4 ying3.)
A fairytale goes that a monster named Yu can make a person sick by shooting his shadow with sand it picked up from a river bed. If a person is said to do the trick, he is trying to frame someone while hiding himself in the dark.
A single merit cannot make a hundred demerits fade; a hundred merits cannot hide a single demerit.
(Chinese original: 一好遮不了百丑,百好遮不了一丑。Chinese Pinyin: Yi4 hao3 zhe1 bu4 liao3 bai3 chou3; bai3 hao3 zhe1 bu4 liao3 yi4 chou3.)
 
A single tree makes no forest; one string makes no music.
(Chinese original: 独木不成林,单弦不成音。Chinese Pinyin: Du2 mu4 bu4 cheng2 lin2, dan1 xian3 bu4 cheng2 yin1.)
This proverb illustrates the significance of team work
Smash the pots and sink the boats.
(Chinese original: 破釜沉舟。Chinese Pinyin: Po4 fu3 chen2 zhou1.)
It is said of a historical battle during the Qin dynasty. During an offensive march, a general ordered his men to smash their cooking pots and sink the boats with which they crossed the river, making it clear that retreating was no longer an option. When someone claims he is going to do this figuratively, he is determined to carry out his task till it is finished no matter what.
A smile woth a thousand ounces of gold.
(Chinese original: 千金一笑。Chinese Pinyin: Qian1 jin1 yi1 xiao4.)
You describe a smile that is hard to come by as "a smile purchased for a thousand ounces of gold." There is a tragic story behind this proverb. In 780 B.C., Prince You of the Zhou State acquired a beautiful concubine named Bao Si, who unfortunately had a poker face. After many a frustrating trial to wring a smile from her, a minister came up with an idea. He suggested that Prince You start the signal fire on Mount Li. The fire was supposed to be used to call for help from the armies stationed away from the capital city in case of an enemy attack. Sure enough, seeing the army baffled generals and their troops in turmoil behind them after a big rush to come in vain to the Prince's rescue, Bao Si broke into a chuckle. Prince Zhou was so happy to see her smile that he awarded the minister with a thousand tael of gold. But the real price the prince had to pay later was his own life. When the real eneny attacked, he could no longer summon his armies with the signal fires. For, they all thought that he was joking again. Consequently his state was conquered he himself sucumbed to the enemy's sword.
A smile makes you ten years younger.
(Chinese original: 笑一笑,十年少。Chinese Pinyin: xiao4 yi2 xiao4, shi2 nian2 shao4.)
 
A sly rabbit will have three openings to its den.
(Chinese original: 狡兔三窟。Chinese Pinyin: Jiao3 tu4 san1 ku1.)
To succeed one must have several alternatives.
So long as the green mountains are preserved, there will be no shortage of firewood supply.
(Chinese original: 留得青山在,不怕没柴烧。Chinese Pinyin: Liu2 de2 qing1 shan1 zai4, bu2 pa4 mei2 cai2 shao1.)
Used to encourage a person not to give up in face of great disaster or despair. The "green mountain" refers to the person himself. So long as he is ok, he can rebuild everything.
Some prefer carrot while others like cabbage.
(Chinese original: 萝卜白菜,各有所爱。Chinese Pinyin: Luo2bo1 bai2cai4, ge4 you3 suo3 ai4.)
"One man's meat is another's poison". People's preferences differ.
A speck on a jade stone won't obscure its radiance.
(Chinese original: 瑕不掩瑜。Chinese Pinyin: Xia2 bu4 yan3 yu4.)
A shortcoming will not write off one's merits.
A spectator sees more than a player in the heat of a game.
(Chinese original: 当局者迷。Chinese Pinyin: Dang1 ju2 zhe3 mi2.)
The third party usually has a better perspective than those deeply involved in a transaction.
Steal a bell with one's ears plugged.
(Chinese original: 掩耳盗铃。Chinese Pinyin: Yan3 er3 dao4 ling2.)
A bell is supposed to be ringing when moved and alert the owner. The theft here thought if he covered up his own ears, no one else in the world will hear it either. That is stupid. Sure. This proverb is just to mock someone who takes it for granted that if he thinks others do not know what he is doing and they would surely do not know it.
Steal beams and replace them with poles.
(Chinese original:偷梁换柱。Chinese Pinyin: Tou1 liang2 huan4 zhu4.)
In so doing, the devious contractors are perpetrating a fraud. The proverb is also extended to any deception involving the replacement of one thing with another.
Stir the grass and alert the snake.
(Chinese original: 打草惊蛇。Chinese Pinyin: Da3 cao3 jing1 che2.)
An imprudent act can alert the enemy before the right moment comes.
Survive the Jaw of a Tiger.
(Chinese original: 虎口余生。Chinese Pinyin: Hu3 kou3 yu2 sheng1.)
Survive great difficulties, dangers and illness.
Swallow a date with its stone.
(Chinese original: 囫囵吞枣。Chinese Pinyin: Hu2lun2 tun1 zao3.)
When someone does this, he is said to read without understanding.

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T

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Tears cannot put out a fire.
(Chinese original: 眼泪救不了火。Chinese Pinyin: Yan3lei4 jiu4 bu4 liao3 huo3.)
Weakness will lead to nowhere.
Ten years of oblivion in school may bring you fame overnight.
(Chinese original: 十年寒窗无人问,一举成名天下知。Chinese Pinyin: Shi2 nian2 han2 chuang1 wu2 ren2 wen4, yi4 ju3 cheng2 ming2 tian1 xia4 zhi1.)
Used to encourage people to study hard.
There's no insurmountable Mount of Flames.
(Chinese original: 没有过不去的火焰山。Chinese Pinyin: Mei2 you3 guo4 bu1 qu4 de huo3yan4shan1.)
There are no insurmountable difficulties.
Three humble shoemakers brainstorming make a great statesman.
(Chinese original: 三个臭皮匠,凑个诸葛亮。Chinese Pinyin: San1ge4 chou4 pi2jiang4, cou4 ge4 Zhu1ge3 Liang4.)
The literary translation of the original is "Three smelly leather shoemakers put together can be counted as a Zhuge Liang", who was one of the greatest statesman as well as a military strategist in ancient Chinese history.
There are always ears on the other side of the wall.
(Chinese original: 隔墙有耳。Chinese Pinyin: Ge2 qiang2 you3 er3.)
Be wary of eavesdropping anywhere anytime.
There is no silver here: three hundred taels.
(Chinese original: 此地无银三百两。Chinese Pinyin: Ci3 di4 wu2 yin2 san1bai3 liang3.)
Sounds paradoxical? True. Once upon a time, there were a couple, who got three hundred taels of silver, a big sum of currency. Worried that their money would be stolen, they decided to bury them in a jar behind their house. For fear that they might forget where they hid them, they put up a sign saying "There is no money here: three hundred taels". The result, of course, is only too apparent. This proverb is to tease those who say or do things blatantly self contradictory and consequently become an object of ridicule.
Thick branches and big leaves.
(Chinese original: 粗枝大叶。Chinese Pinyin: Cu1 zhi1 da4 ye4.)
To say is "Thick branches and big leaves" is to accuse him of being careless, failing to attend to details.
A thief cries "Stop thief!".
(Chinese original: 贼喊捉贼。Chinese Pinyin: Zei2 han3 zhuo1 zei2.)
This is a ploy criminals often use to divert the attention of investigators.
Things will develop in the opposite direction when they become extreme.
(Chinese original: 物极必反。Chinese Pinyin: Wu4 ji2 bi4 fan3.)
The pendulum is also swing back and forth.
Those who play with fire may become its victims.
(Chinese original: 玩火自焚。Chinese Pinyin: Wan2 huo3 zi4 fen2.)
An evil doer will eventually end up being punished.
Throw in a rock as someone is drowning in the well.
(Chinese original: 落井下石。Chinese Pinyin: Luo4 jing3 xia4 shi2.)
Attack someone while he is already in trouble or difficulty. It is like "hitting one when he is down."
Throw out a brick to attract a jade.
(Chinese original: 抛砖引玉。Chinese Pinyin: Pao1 zhuan1 yin3 yu4.)
This is a Chinese way of showing modesty. When one tries to offer an opinion, he claims that his is but a commonplace one and with it he hopes that others may come up with better ideas.
Thunder is louder than the little rain warrants.
(Chinese original: 雷声大,雨点小。Chinese Pinyin: Lei2 sheng1 da4, yu3 dian3 xiao3.)
More words than action.
A tiger's head and a snake's tail.
(Chinese original: 虎头蛇尾。Chinese Pinyin: Hu3 tou2 she2 wei3.)
A good beginning with a lousy ending.
A tiger never returns to his prey he did not finish off.
(Chinese original: 老虎不吃回头食。Chinese Pinyin: Lao3hu3 bu4 chi1 hui2tou2shi2.)
For fear that he may have exposed his trace, he will not take the risk of being caught in making the same trip a second time. A clever thief would not show up in the same spot soon again.
Today’s beneficiary is the incarnation of his preexisting well-doer; the fate of one’s next existence lies in his existence today.
(Chinese original: 要知前世因 今生受者是; 要知后世果 今生做者是。Chinese Pinyin: Yao4 zhi1 qian2 shi4 yin1, jin1 sheng1 shou4 zhe3 shi4; yao4 zhi1 hou4 shi4 guo3, jin1 sheng1 zuo4 zhe3 shi4.)
What goes around comes around. Doing good will benefit yourself eventually. Otherwise you’ll get comeuppance.
Trees have already been made into a boat.
(Chinese original: 木已成舟。Chinese Pinyin: Mu4 yi3 cheng2 zhou1.)
(Similar proverb: Rice is already cooked. 生米煮成饭: Sheng1 mi3 zhu3 cheng2 fan4.)
What is done cannot be undone.
The trees want to remain quiet, but the wind will not stop.
(Chinese original: 树欲静而风不止。Chinese Pinyin: Shu4 yu4 jing4 er3 feng1 bu4 zhi3.)
Trouble is brewing in the samblance of peace.
To enjoy a grander sight, climb to a greater height.
(Chinese original: 欲穷千里目,更上一层楼。Chinese Pinyin: Yu4 qiong2 qian1li3 mu4, geng4 shang4 yi4 ceng2 lou2.)
To make a greater achievement on the basis of previous successes.
Turn iron (or stone) into gold by the touch.
(Chinese original: 点铁成金 or 点石成金。Chinese Pinyin: Dian3 tie3 cheng2 jin1, or Dian3 shi2 cheng2 jin1.)
To say one can turn iron into gold by the touch is to describe him as having superb editing skills that can turn a mediocre work into a masterpiece.
Two tigers cannot share one mountain (forest).
(Chinese original: 一山不容二虎 or 3、 一林不二虎。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 sha1 bu4 rong2 er4 hu3. Or Yi1 lin2 bu2 er4 hu3.)
Two equally talented or able employees cannot work well side by side in one unit . That may not be the case with everyone, but people do become jealous of their peers sometimes.

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U

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
An unfolded map reveals a dagger.
(Chinese original: 图穷匕见。Chinese Pinyin: Tu2 qiong2 bi4 jian4.)
An assassin of the First Emperor hid his dagger in a map. He planned to kill the emperor with the weapon as the map was unfolded but in vain. The proverb is used derogatorily to describe a secret plan has developed to such a degree that all the details of the plot are now under the sun.

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V

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Vicious as a tigress can be, she never eats her own cubs.
(Chinese original: 虎毒不食子。Chinese Pinyin: Hu3 du2 bu4 shi2 zi3.)
Those parents who hurt their children are worse than beasts of prey.
Visiting monks give better sermons.
(Chinese original: 外来的和尚好念经。Chinese Pinyin: Wai4 lai2 de he2shang4 hao3 nian4jing1.)
People always value opinions coming from sources other than their fellow employees.
Void of a long-term plan will bring you trouble soon.
(Chinese original: 人无远虑,必有近忧。Chinese Pinyin: Ren2 wu2 yuan3 lü4 bi4 you3 jin4 you1.)
 

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W

Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
Wade through boiling water and scorching flame.
(Chinese original: 赴汤蹈火。Chinese Pinyin: Fu4 tang1 dao3 huo3.)
If one can do this, he is courageous enough to do anything.
Walk sidewise and block the way.
(Chinese original: 横行霸道。Chinese Pinyin: Heng2 xing2 ba4 dao4.)
When one does this, his playing the tyrant.
Watch the fire burn on the other side of the river.
(Chinese original: 隔岸观火。Chinese Pinyin: Ge2 an4 guan1 huo3.)
Gloating over others' mishap instead of coming to their rescue.
Water spilled can never be retrieved.
(Chinese original: 覆水难收。Chinese Pinyin: Fu4 shui3 nan2 shou1.)
Things have developed to a degree that there is no turning back.
We are not so much concerned if you are slow as when you come to a halt.
(Chinese original: 不怕慢,就怕站。Chinese Pinyin: Bu2 pa4 man4, jiu4 pa4 zhan4.)
As in the case of the race between the hare and the tortoise.
A weir close to completion left undone due to the shortage of a basket of earth.
(Chinese original: 功亏一篑。Chinese Pinyin: Gong1 kui1 yi1 kui4.)
A regrettable failure of something nearing accomplishment due to lack of perseverance.
When good fortune finally comes, no one can ever stop it.
(Chinese original: 一朝时运至,半点不由人。Chinese Pinyin: Yi1 zhao1 shi2 yun4 zhi4, ban4 dian3 bu4 you2 ren2.)
 
When people are no longer afraid of death, there is no use threatening them with it?
(Chinese original: Chinese Pinyin: 民不畏死,奈何以死惧之?)
 
When the head rope of a net is pulled up, all the meshes open.
(Chinese original: 纲举目张。Chinese Pinyin: Gang1 ju3 mu4 zhang1.)
When a key problem is solved, the rest of the issues relating to it will also be unknotted.
When you are poor, you will have no visitors even if you live in a crowded city; once you become rich, you'll be surprised by visitors from alleged relatives even if you live in a remote location.
(Chinese original: 贫居闹市无人问,富在深山有远亲。Chinese Pinyin: Pin2 ju1 nao4shi4 wu2 ren2 wen4, fu4 ju1 shen1shan1 you3 yuan3 qin1.)
The proverb criticizes snobbishness.
The wind sweeping through the tower heralds a rising storm in the mountain.
(Chinese original: 山雨欲来风满楼。Chinese Pinyin: Shan1yu3 yu4 lai2 feng1 man3 lou2.)
Before a big event takes place, there will be a precursory atmosphere.
Without rice, even the cleverest housewife cannot cook.
(Chinese original: 巧妇难为无米之炊。Chinese Pinyin: Qiao3fu4 nan2 wei2 wu2 mi3 zhi1 chui1.)
It may not be true to American housewives who seldom cook rice. But rice is staple food in South China where the proverb may have originated. Without the right material, no matter how good you are, you may not accomplish the task.
Would rather be a chicken's head than a phoenix's tail.
(Chinese original: 宁做鸡头,不当凤尾。Chinese Pinyin: Ning4 zuo4 ji1 tou2 bu1 dang1 feng4 wei3.)
A head is a head and a tail is a tail. There are situations where you would rather be somebody in a small institution than a small potato of a large one.
Would rather be betrayed by others than betraying them.
(Chinese original: 宁可负我, 切莫负人。Chinese Pinyin: Ning4 ke3 fu4 wo3, qie4 mo4 fu4 ren2.)
 
The wound caused by a sword can eventually be healed; the hurt resulted from vicious remarks can never be undone.
(Chinese original: 利剑伤人犹可愈,恶语伤人恨难消。Chinese Pinyin: Li4jian4 shang1 ren2 you2 ke3 yu4, e4yu3 shang1 ren2 hen4 nan2 xiao1.)
Avoid hurting people with vicious remarks when in anger or you will regret it.

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Proverbs
Annotation And Connotations
The Yangtze refuses no water from tributaries; Mount Tai discriminates no dirt from other rocks.
(Chinese original: 长江不拒细流,泰山不择土石。Chinese Pinyin: Chang2jiang1 bu2 ju4 xi4 liu2; Tai4shan1 bu4 ze2 tu3 shi2.)
One who likes to learn never refuses suggestions and advices coming from anywhere.
A year's harvest counts on spring; a man's success counts on his diligence.
(Chinese original: 一年之际在于春,一生之际在于勤。Chinese Pinyin: Yi4nian2 zhi1 ji4 zai4yu2 chun1, yi4sheng1 zhi1 ji4 zai4yu2 qin2.)
Used to encourage people to study hard.
You can't catch a cub without going into a tiger's den.
(Chinese original: 不入虎穴,焉得虎子。Chinese Pinyin: Bu2 ru4 hu3xue2, yan1 de2 hu3 zi3.)
Risky as it is, if you are afraid of taking chances, there is no way you can succeed.
You can't tell the cost of food and fuel without being the head of a household; you can't appreciate the love of your parents without having children of your own.
(Chinese original: 不当家不知柴米贵,不养儿不知父母恩。Chinese Pinyin: Bu4 dang1jia1 bu4 zhi1 chai2 mi3 gui4, bu4 yang3 er2 bu4 zhi1 fu4mu3 en1.)
 
You looked high and low till your iron shoes were worn out but still to no avail. Then you chanced upon it without ever looking.
(Chinese original: 踏破铁鞋无觅处,得来全不费功夫。Chinese Pinyin: Ta4 po4 tie3xie2 wu2 mi4 chu4, de2lai2 quan2 bu4 fei4 gong1fu.)
You looked for something everywhere but could not find it. All of a sudden you chanced upon it. Have you had this experience? I bet you have
You will never lose a battle if you know your own situation as well as that of the enemy.
(Chinese original: 知己知彼,百战不殆。Chinese Pinyin: Zhi1 ji3 zhi2 bi3, bai3 zhan4 bu2 dai4.)
 
You think you lost your horse? Who knows, he may bring a whole herd back to you someday.
(Chinese original: 塞翁失马,安知非福。Chinese Pinyin: Sai4 weng1 shi1 ma3, an1 zhi1 fei1 fu2.)
The story goes that an old man lost his horse. As he was bemoaning, the animal returned bringing at his heels a herd more. It is thus regarded as a "Blessing in disguise." Or "Every cloud has a silver lining."
You won't help the new plants grow by pulling them up higher.
(Chinese original: 揠苗助长。Chinese Pinyin: Ya4 miao2 zhu4 zhang3.)
Be patient and let nature run its course or you'll do a diservice.
You can't expect both ends of a sugar cane are as sweet.
(Chinese original: 甘蔗没有两头甜。Chinese Pinyin: Gan1zhe4 mei2you3 liang3tou2 tian2.)
You can't have both: In order to get something, you have to sacrifice something else.
Your fingers can't be of the same length.
(Chinese original: 十个指头不一般齐。Chinese Pinyin: Shi2ge4 zhi3tou2 bu2 yi1 ban1 qi3.)
That is true. And that is true with life: we can't expect everything or everybody is perfect.
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