Home Chinese Culture Proverbs
These Chinese proverbs are mostly expressed as four-character idioms. Like any idiom, they are expressive, precise and often leave meaningful afterthoughts for listners.
- Add legs to the snake after you have finished drawing it.
- A book holds a house of gold.
- A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.
- A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood
- A crane standing amidst a flock of chickens.
- A camel standing amidst a flock of sheep.
- A fall into a ditch makes you wiser.
- A flea on the top of a bald head.
- A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
- After three days without reading, talk becomes flavorless.
- An ant hole may well destroy a whole dam.
- A frog in a well shaft seeing the sky.
- An inch of time is an inch of gold but you can't buy that inch of time with an inch of gold.
- Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.
Behind an able man there are always other able men.
- Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one.
- Better do a good deed near home than go far away to burn incense.
- Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
- Butcher the donkey after he's finished his job on the mill.
- A clear conscience never fears midnight knocking.
- Crows everywhere are equally black.
- A dish of carrots hastily made may still have soil on it.
- Dismantle the bridge after crossing it.
- Distant water won't help put out a fire close by.
- Distant water won't quench your immediate thirst.
- Do not employ handsome servants.
- Don't want others to know what you have done? Shouldn't have done it.
- Donkey's lips do not fit onto a horse's mouth.
- A dog won't forsake his master because of his poverty; a son never deserts his mother for her homely appearance.
Dream different dreams while on the same bed.
- Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think.
- Enough shovels of earth -- a mountain. Enough pails of water -- a river.
- Even a hare will bite when it is cornered.
- Experience is a comb which nature gives to men when they are bald.
- A chicken ate all the bait grain and you still fail to steal it.
- Fight a wolf with a flax stalk.
- Flowing water never goes bad; moving door hubs never gather termites.
- Flies never visit an egg that has no crack.
- Forget injuries, never forget kindness.
- A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.
- A good fortune may forbode bad luck, which may in turn disguise a good fortune.
- Govern a family as you would cook a small fish -- very gently.
- Great souls have wills; feeble ones have only wishes.
- Happiness is like a sunbeam that the least shadow intercepts, while adversity is often as the rain of spring.
- Have a mouth as sharp as a dagger but a heart as soft as tofu.
- Have one's ears pierced only before the wedding ceremony starts.
- He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.
- He who hurries can not walk with dignity.
- He who sacrifices his conscience to ambition burns a picture to obtain the ashes.
- A horse cannot gain weight if not fed extra fodder during the night; a man cannot become wealthy without earnings apart from his regular salaries.
- How can you expect to find ivory in a dog's mouth?
- How can you put out a fire set on a cart-load of firewood with only a cup of water?
- If a son is uneducated, his dad is to blame.
- If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come.
- If you are patient in a moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.
- If you bow at all, bow low.
- If you do not study hard when young, you'll end up bewailing your failures as you grow up.
- If you have never done anything evil, you should not be worrying about devils knocking at your door.
- If you must play, decide on three things at the beginning: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.
- If you see in your wine the reflection of a person not in your range of vision, don't drink it.
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