百发百中 bǎifābǎizhòng


Meaning : A hundred shots, a hundred bull’s-eyes; Every shot hits the target; shoot with unfailing accuracy; be a crack shot

Example : 这么多问题你都回答对了,真是百发百中
You’re answering all these questions accurately, it’s like you’re hitting a hundred bull’s-eyes.


拔苗助长 bámiáozhùzhǎng


The idiom means to attempt to help the shoots grow by pulling them upward—to spoil things by excessive enthusiasm.

This story comes from the writings of Gongsun Chou – Mencius. Mencius was a famous statesman, educator, and thinker during the Warring States Period. Gongsun Chou was one of his disciples. A story was told about a farmer who saw his neighbor’s crops grow taller than his. So this farmer decided to pluck his crops to make them look taller just like his neighbor’s. He expected the same results of his neighbor’s, but when the farmer’s son ran out to see the results, the crops were withered. There were a lot of these types of people in ancient times, but they are not stupid or muddleheaded, they just think and act unreasonably. Following the subjective wish, rather than the objective rule, they are too eager to achieve a goal. We should let nature take its course, anxiousness will help an event to develop results in the contrary to our intent, or even doing harm to society and ourselves.

Example Sentence :
Teaching children in this way simply means applying too much pressure and damaging them.

不可思议 bùkěsīyì


The expression literally means, “不可 cannot be 思仪 conceived.”
It is used to express that something is unbelievable or unconceivable.
Example sentence : 对我来说,吃狗肉是不可思的事情。Duì wǒ lái shuō, chī gǒuròu shì bùkěsīyì de shìqíng.
The way I see it, eating dog is inconceivable.

一丝不苟 yīsībùgǒu

一丝不苟     yīsībùgǒu

Explanation: Literally – “to attend to every thread,””not one thread loose;” “strictly according to the rules;” ” not one hair out of place.”
Translation: To be meticulous; to attend to every detail.
Similar English Expression: “To cross one’s T’s and dot one I’s.”
一   yī : one; single; all; throughout.
丝    sī : silk; thread; trace.
不苟  bùgǒu : not casual; careful; conscientious.

Example: 他做事从来都是一丝不苟。Tā zuòshì cónglái dōu shì yīsībùgǒu. — He’s always meticulous in everything he does.


自相矛盾 zìxiāngmáodùn

In the ancient country of Chu there was a weapons merchant with a small shop in the market.  One day he went into the street to sell some spears and shields.  He held up a shield and said to the crowd gathered around him, “This is the toughest shield in the world.  Nothing,  no matter how sharp,  can ever penetrate it.”

Then he held up a spear,  and said: “This is the sharpest spear under heaven.  No matter how tough something is,  this spear can slice right through it.”

The onlookers heard this and laughed.  One of them asked him, “Well then, if your spear is thrust at your shield, what happens?”

The weapons dealer had no answer,  and left looking discouraged.

Meaning: Making a contradictory statement or claiming the impossible.

自相 zìxiāng = each other, mutual

矛 máo = spear

盾 dùn = shield


画蛇添足 huàshétiānzú


(image source: http://ellisnadler.blogspot.com/2008/02/decision-time.html)

literal meaning : to draw legs on a snake

The Chinese idiom goes:

An official in the ancient State of Chu gave a pot of wine to his men to celebrate the Spring Sacrifice ceremony. One of the men said: “We have only one pot of wine, and it’s only enough for one. So, let’s play for it. The first one to finish drawing a snake in the ground wins the pot of wine.”

The others agreed and started drawing their snakes in the ground.

Then, there was a winner, or so he thought. He had finished his drawing and reached for the pot of wine. But, when he saw that the others hadn’t finished their drawings, he arrogantly said to them: “How slow you are! The way you’re going, I can add feet to my snake and still win the pot of wine.”

So, he did. He added feet to his snake. But before he could finish, another man grabbed the pot of wine and said: “What snake has feet? That’s not a snake! So, I win!”

The moral of the story is that sometimes going too far can be as bad, or worse, than not going far enough.

Comment on this would be to gild the lily.


对牛弹琴 duìniútánqín


duì  =    prep. to, at, concerning to                tán  = vb. to play (an instrument)

niú  =   n.  cow                                                       qín =  n. zither, lute (a kind of musical instrument)

This idiom literally means play the zither/lute to the cow. It means ‘to address the wrong audience’ or ‘to talk over somebody’s head.’

The story goes…..Gong Mingyi was a fantastic lute player who lived in the Warring States Period. One day he saw a cow eating grass and, thinking it a good idea, decided to play beautiful music for the cow. However, the cow continued eating grass like nothing was going on. The people who were watching this spectacle said, “It is not because your song sounds bad, only that you have sought the wrong audience.”
Now people use this saying to mean that the audience cannot follow the speaker’s meaning.



Trans: She read them Shakespeare, but it was casting pearls before swine.

藕断丝连 ǒuduànsīlián


Literal meaning : The lotus root snaps but its fibers stay joined.

Ever had a lotus root dish in China? It’s absolutely delicious but when you bite into it, you can feel its silky fibers stretch out with the piece on the fork/chopsticks. This Chinese idiom usually refers to romantic relationships to mean : “still in contact though apparently separated.” Think about someone you apparently broke up with but still keep in touch with.

Sentence with 藕断丝连:


Translation: After you break up with someone you shouldn’t keep in touch with him, but you two are still communicating despite the break up.