Tags: Chinese Proverbs
老婆总是別人的好，孩子总是自己的亲。 Your neigbour’s wife looks prettier than your own. And your child looks more cute than your neighbour’s. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
八字衙门朝南开，有理无钱莫进来 The yamen gate is wide open, yet with only right on your side but no money, don’t go inside.
兵马未动，粮草先行 Provisions should be arranged before an army is mobilized.
不经一事，不长一智 Wisdom comes from experience.
不入虎穴，焉得虎子 How can you catch tiger cubs without entering the tiger’s lair?
差之毫厘，失之千里 A little error may lead to a large discrepancy.
长江后浪催前浪，世上新人赶旧人 Just as the waves of the Yangtze River behind drive on those ahead, so does each new generation replace the old one.
常将有日思无日，莫待无时想有时 When rich, think of poverty, but don’t think of riches when you are poor.
吃一堑，长一智 A fall into the pit, a gain in your wit.
打蛇不死，后患无穷 Unless you beat a snake to death, it will cause endless
大处着眼，小处着手 Keep the general goal in sight while tackling daily tasks.
单丝不成线，独木不成林 A single thread can’t make a cord, nor a single tree a forest.
当局者迷，旁观者清 The spectators see more of the game than the players.
刀不磨要生锈，水不流要发臭 A knife will rust if not sharpened regularly, and water will stagnate if it is not allowed to flow.
道高一尺，魔高一丈 The law is strong, but the outlaws are ten times stronger.
灯不拨不亮，理不辩不明 An oil lamp becomes brighter after trimming, a truth becomes clearer after being discussed.
读书需用意，一字值千金 When reading, don’t let a single word escape your attention / one word may be worth a thousand pieces of gold.
读万卷书，行万里路 Read ten thousand books and walk ten thousand miles.
儿不嫌母丑，狗不嫌家贫 A son never thinks his mother ugly, and a dog never shuns its owner’s home however shabby it is.
儿孙自有儿孙福，莫为儿孙做牛马 The children can take care of themselves when they grow up, so the parents don’t have to work too hard for the future of their offspring.
耳听为虚，眼见为实 What you hear about may be false, but what you see is true.
凡人不可貌相，海水不可斗量 As a man cannot be known by his looks, neither can the sea be fathomed by a gourd.
放下屠刀，立地成佛 The butcher who lays down his knife, at once becomes a Buddha.
风无常顺，兵无常胜 A boat can’t always sail with the wind; an army can’t always win battles.
逢人只说三分话， 未可全抛一片心 Talking to a stranger, it is wise to be somewhat reserved.
瓜无滚圆，人无十全 No melon is completely round, and no person is perfect.
害人之心不可有，防人之心不可无 One shouldn’t have the heart to harm others, but must be vigilant so as not to be harmed.
花有重开日，人无再少年 Flowers may bloom again, but a person never has the chance to be young again.
画虎画皮难画骨，知人知面不知心 In drawing a tiger, you show its skin, but not its bones; in knowing a man, you may know his face, but not his heart.
火要空心，人要虚心 A fire must have space at its center to burn vigorously; a man must be modest to make progress.
见怪不怪，其怪自败 Face odd things fearlessly and their fearsomeness will disappear.
江山易改，本性难移 Rivers and mountains may be changed, but it is hard to alter even a single person’s nature.
近水楼台先得月，向阳花木早逢春 A waterfront pavilion gets the moonlight first; spring comes early to plants exposed to the sun.
近水知鱼性，近山识鸟音 Near to rivers, we recognize fish; near to mountains, we recognize the songs of birds.
近朱者赤，近墨者黑 Near vermilion, one gets stained pink; near ink, one gets stained black.
酒逢知己千杯少，话不投机半句多 If you drink with a bosom friend, a thousand cups are not enough; if you argue with someone, half a sentence is too much.
老当益壮，穷当益坚 Old but vigorous, poor but ambitious.
良药苦口利于病，忠言逆耳利于行 It takes bitter medicine to cure a disease properly, and it takes blunt advice to put us on the right track.
两虎相斗，必有一伤 When two tigers fight, one is sure to lose.
留得青山在，不怕没柴烧 As long as the green hills remain, there’ll be no shortage of firewood.
路遥知马力，日久见人心 As distance tests a horse’s strength, so does time reveal a person’s real character.
麻雀虽小，五脏俱全 Small as it is, the sparrow has all the vital organs.
马好不在鞍，人好不在衫 Don’t judge a horse by its saddle, and don’t judge a person by his clothes.
名人不用细说，响鼓不用重捶 A person of good sense needs no detailed explanation; a resonant drum needs no heavy beating.
明知山有虎，偏向虎山行 Going deep into the mountains, undeterred by the tigers there.
宁为玉碎，不为瓦全 Better to be a shard of jade than a whole tile.
贫居闹市无人问，富在深山有远亲 If you are poor, even if you live in a crowded city you will be alone. But if you are rich, even if you live in uninhabited mountains the most distant relatives will flock to you.
平生不做亏心事，半夜敲门心不惊 A clear conscience sleeps even through thunder.
平时不烧香，临时抱佛脚 Never burning incense when all is well, but clasping Buddha’s feet in an emergency.
千军易得，一将难求 It is easy to find a thousand soldiers, but hard to find a good general.
钱财如粪土，仁义值千金 Riches are as worthless as dust; benevolence and justice are the most valuable things.
前人栽树，后人乘凉 One generation plants the trees under whose shade another generation rests.
强中更有强中手，能人背后有能人 However strong you are, there’s always someone stronger.
人过留名，雁过留声 A man leaves his name behind wherever he stays, just as a goose utters its cry wherever it flies.
人老心不老，人穷志不穷 Old but young at heart; poor but with lofty ideals.
人善被人欺，马善被人骑 A weak person is liable to be bullied; a tamed horse is often ridden.
人往高处走，水望低处流 Man seeks the heights, while water seeks the lowlands.
人为财死，鸟为食亡 Man dies in pursuit of wealth, and birds die in pursuit of food.
人无千日好，花无百日红 Man cannot be always fortunate, nor can flowers last forever.
人无完人，金无足赤 It is as impossible to find a perfect man as it is to find 100 percent pure gold.
人无远虑，必有近忧 Those who do not plan for the future will find trouble on their doorstep.
人心齐，泰山移 When people are of one mind and heart, they can move Mount Tai.
人有失足，马有失蹄 A man is prone to stumble when walking, and a horse is prone to stumble when galloping.
任凭风浪起，稳坐钓鱼船 Sit tight in the fishing boat despite the rising wind and waves.
若要人不知，除非己莫为 If you don’t want people to find out, you’d better not do it.
三个臭皮匠，顶个诸葛亮 Three cobblers with their wits combined equal Zhuge Liang, the master mind.
三人一条心，黄土变成金 If people are of one heart, even the yellow earth can become gold.
少壮不努力，老大徒伤悲 A man who does not exert himself in his youth will be sorry he didn’t when he grows old.
十年窗下无人问，一举成名天下知 One can study for ten years in obscurity, but as soon as one passes the examination the whole world pays attention.
十年树木，百年树人 It takes ten years to grow a tree, but a hundred years to bring up a generation of good men.
书到用时方恨少 It is when you are using what you have learned from books that you wish you had read more.
天外有天，人上有人 As capable as you are, there is always someone more capable–just as there is another heaven beyond heaven.
天下无难事，只怕有心人 Nothing in the world is difficult for one who sets his mind to it.
天下兴亡，匹夫有责 Everyone is responsible for his country.
天有不测风云，人有旦夕祸福 In nature there are unexpected storms, and in life unpredictable vicissitudes.
万事俱备，只欠东风 Everything is ready except the east wind.
小洞不补，大洞吃苦 A small hole not mended in time will become a big hole much more difficult to mend.
小时偷针，大时偷金 A child who steals a needle will grow up to steal gold.
心正不怕影斜，脚正不怕鞋歪 An upright man is not afraid of an oblique shadow; a straight foot is not afraid of a crooked shoe.
秀才不出门，能知天下事 Without even stepping outside his gate the scholar knows all the wide world’s affairs.
养兵千日，用兵一时 Armies are to be maintained in the course of long years, but to be used in the nick of time.
一寸光阴一寸金，寸金难买寸光阴 A speck of time is more precious than an ounce of gold.
一个篱笆三个桩，一个好汉三个帮 Just as a fence needs the support of three stakes, an able fellow needs the help of three other people.
一粒老鼠屎，坏了一锅粥 A speck of mouse dung will spoil a whole pot of porridge.
一年之计在于春，一日之计在于晨 The whole year’s work depends on good planning in spring, and the whole day’s work depends on good planning in the early morning.
一人得道，鸡犬升天 When a man is at court, all his followers are in favor.
一失足成千古恨，再回头是百年身 One single slip brings eternal regret, and looking back, you find that your whole life has passed away.
一言既出，驷马难追 A word, once it is uttered, cannot be overtaken even by swift horses.
一朝被蛇咬，十年怕井绳 A man once bitten by a snake will for ten years shy at a rope.
一着不慎，满盘皆输 One careless move forfeits the whole game.
有借有还，再借不难 Timely return of a loan makes it easier to borrow a second time.
有理走遍天下，无理寸步难行 With justice on your side, you can go anywhere; without it, you can’t take a step.
有缘千里来相会，无缘对面不相逢 Fate brings people together no matter how far apart they may be.
与君一夕话，胜读十年书 Chatting with you for one night is more profitable than studying for ten years.
远水不救近火，远亲不如近邻 Distant water can’t put out a nearby fire, and a distant relative is not as helpful as a close neighbor.
月满则亏，水满则溢 The moon waxes only to wane, and water surges only to overflow.
在家不会迎宾客，出外方知少主人 If a person does not treat guests properly when at home, few will wish to entertain him when he is away from home.
知己知彼，百战百胜 Know the enemy, know yourself, and in every battle you will be victorious.
只许州官放火，不许百姓点灯 The magistrates are free to set fire, while the common people are forbidden even to light lamps.
只要功夫深，铁杵磨成针 If you work hard enough at it, you can grind even an iron rod down to a needle.
种瓜得瓜，种豆得豆 As a man sows, so shall he reap.
常用汉语典故（Common Chinese allusions）
杀鸡焉用牛刀 Why Use a Poleaxe to kill a chicken?
苛政猛于虎 Tyranny is fiercer than a tiger.
多行不义必自毖 Persisting in evil brings self-destruction.
唇亡齿寒 When the lips are gone, the teeth will be cold.
鞭长莫及 Not even the longest whip can reach everywhere.
尔虞我诈 You fool me and I cheat you.
风马牛不相及 Even the runaway livestock would not reach each other.
顾左右而言他 Turning aside and changing the subject
坐山观虎斗 Sitting on a hill watching tigers fight
狡兔三窟 A wily hare has three burrows.
高枕无忧 Shake up the pillow and have a good sleep.
作法自毙 Hoist with his own petard
奇货可居 A rare commodity suitable for hoarding
逐客令 Order for guests to leave
一字千金 One word worth a thousand pieces of gold
燕雀焉知鸿鹄之志 How can a swallow know the aspiration of a swan?
先发制人 Gain the initiative by striking first
一败涂地 A defeat that brings everything crashing down
孺子可教 The child is worth instructing
成也萧何，败也萧何 Raised up by Xiao He and Cast down by Xiao He
逐鹿中原 Hunting deer in the Central Plains
约法三章 Agreeing on a three-point law
鸿门宴 The banquet and sword dance at Hongmen
人为刀俎，我为鱼肉 They are the knife and the chopping block, while we are the fish and the meat.
明修栈道，暗度陈仓 Repairing the road while making a secret detour
背水一战 Fighting with one’s back to the river
养虎遗患 To rear a tiger is to court calamity
运筹帷幄 Manipulating victory from the command tent
狡兔死，走狗烹 When the crafty hares have been exterminated, the hunting dogs will be cooked
金屋藏娇 Keeping a beauty in a golden house
门可罗雀 You can catch sparrows on the doorstep
牛郎织女 The cowherd and weaving girl
相儒以沫 Moistening each other with soliva
劳而无功 Working hard but to no avail
视为畏途 Regarded as a dangerous road
越俎代庖 Abandoning the sacrificial vessels for the saucepans
得心应手 The hands respond to the heart
覆水难收 Spilt water cannot be retrieved
死灰复燃 Dying embers may glow again
投笔从戎 Exchanging the writing brush for the sword
马革裹尸 A horsehide shroud
小巫见大巫 A junior sorcerer in the presence of a great one
举案齐眉 Holding the tray up to the eyebrows
万事俱备，只欠东风 All that is needed is an east wind
鹤立鸡群 Like a crane standing among chickens
乐不思蜀 So happy that one thinks no more of Shu
不为五斗米折腰 Won’t Kowtow for five dou of rice
洛阳纸贵 Paper is expensive in Luoyang
朝秦暮楚 Serving Qin in the morning and Chu in the evening
口若悬河 A waterfall of words
江郎才尽 Mr. Jiang has exhausted his talents
月下老人 The old man in the moonlight
阮囊羞涩 Mr. Ruan’s bag feels ashamed
司空见惯 A common sight to the Sikong
请君入瓮 Please get into the vat
南柯一梦 Southern branch dream
东窗事发 East window plot
刘姥姥进大观园 Granny Liu in the Grand View Garden
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