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Chinese Idioms - 对 牛 弹 琴

Posted by vann0000 February 15, 2009 in the Group General Discussion .

Tags: idiom, flude, lute, cow, bland, mind, stupid, useless, audience

Duì niú tán qín
对 牛 弹 琴

Play the lute to a cow

对牛弹琴 - Dui Niu Tan Qin

Literal Meaning - Face cow, play (stringed) instrument.
Figurative meaning - Reasoning with Stubborn people or talking to the wrong audience

The Story:

In ancient times, there lived a musician named Gong Mingyi. He was a master of the Zheng, a plucked string instrument. Unfortunately, his rash behavior often led him astray.

One day, he saw a cow grazing in a field near his house. He was inspired by the scene and ran outside to play a tune for the cow. Gong Mingyi played beautifully, finding himself intoxicated by the music. But the cow paid no heed to the elegant sounds, simply focusing its attention on eating the grass. Gong Mingyi was surprised at this and could not comprehend the cow’s flippant indifference. He felt that since his performance had been masterful, this means that the cow neither understood nor appreciated his elegant music!


"Play the lute to a cow", implies that someone speaks or writes without considering his audience. Generally speaking, it means the speaker or writer has over-estimated his listeners or readers. In these cases, the idiom mocks the audience rather than the speaker.

Usage Example:

Don't play the lute to a cow; he will not understand your feeling.

  • 对牛弹琴(對牛彈琴)

  • 【拼音】duì niú tán qín
  • 【出处】公明仪为牛弹清角之操,伏食如枚。非牛不闻,不合其耳矣。  汉·牟融《理惑论》
  • 【释义】讥笑听话的人不懂对方说得是什么。用以讥笑说话的人不看对象。
  • 【用法】作谓语、宾语、定语;用于讥讽别人
  • 【结构】偏正式
  • 【近义词】对牛鼓簧白费口舌
  • 【反义词】对症下药有的放矢
  • 【同韵词】病国殃民平步青云一登龙门山中白云血口喷人自己人藏诸名山,传之其人以力服人遁世离羣偃武觌文、......
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  • 【年代】古代
  • 【灯谜】牧童拉二胡
  • 【邂逅语】抱着琵琶进磨坊
  • 【英语】castpearlsbeforeswine<preachtodeafears;talktoapost;whistlejigstoamilestone>
  • 【德文】einerKuhdieLautevorspielen<indenWindreden>
  • 【日语】馬の耳に念仏(ねんぶつ)
  • 【法语】perdresasalive<parleràunmur,àunsourd>
  • 【俄语】трáтитьзряврéмя
  • 【语文课本】但是,他太卑微,太渺小,太愚昧,最大的倾泄也只 是对牛弹琴,换得一个漠然的表情。  余秋雨《道士塔》高中三册·课文·11

  • 【成语故事】古代音乐家公明仪每次弹琴时,他的琴声引来很多鸟儿与蝴蝶。当看到水牛在吃草,就对水牛弹奏几曲,结果水牛无动于衷地走开,公明仪大叹:“对牛弹琴,一窍不通。”
  • 【成语示列】对牛弹琴,牛不入耳,骂得很好,咱们一总再算账!  清·李当珍《镜花缘》第九十回
  • 【成语连句】
  • 知道对牛弹琴这样敷衍欺骗不止

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