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Acts of eating in Chinese idioms and phrases

chinese slang, learn chinese, chinese idiom

In Chinese, there are many words describing the acts of eating, like "馋, 垂涎, 尝, 啃, 嚼, 品, 吞 and 撑", and these words have many derivatives.

汉语中, 与吃有关的动作很多,比如"馋、垂涎、尝、啃、嚼、品、吞、撑"等,由这些词组成的词语也非常多。

"馋" (chán)、"垂涎" (chuí xián) gluttonous; covet

When one feels like eating whatever others eat , we say he or she "嘴馋" (zuǐ chán, be gluttonous or ravenous). Such words as "眼馋" (yǎn chán, be envious), "垂涎三尺" (chuí xián sān chǐ, mouth-watering) or "垂涎欲滴" (chuí xián yù dī, mouth-watering) were therefore created.

看到别人吃东西,自己也想吃,就是嘴馋。因此引发出"眼馋"、"垂涎三尺"、"垂涎欲滴"。

"尝" (chánɡ) taste

From "尝", such words as "尝试" (chánɡ shì, have a try), "尝尝苦头" (chánɡ chánɡ kǔ tóu, to endure hardship), "尝尝我的厉害"(chánɡ chánɡ wǒ de lì hɑi, I'm gonna kick your ass), "尝尽了甘苦" (chánɡ jìn le ɡān kǔ, endure all hardships), and "饱尝人生滋味" (bǎo chánɡ rén shēnɡ zī wèi, pass through the mill) were derived.

引申出"尝试"、"尝尝苦头"、"尝尝我的厉害"、"尝尽了甘苦"、"饱尝人生滋味"。

"啃" (kěn) gnaw; nibble

"啃" is a hard job. "啃书本" (kěn shū běn) means "hit the books". "敢啃硬" (ɡǎn kěn yìnɡ) means "fearless of power or difficulties". "蚂蚁啃骨头" (má yǐ kěn ɡǔ tou) means "ants gnawing at a bone" literally and "plug away at a daunting task bit by bit" figuratively. 

啃是一种很费劲的事。"啃书本"指读书很辛苦。"敢啃硬"指不畏权势或不怕困难。"蚂蚁啃骨头"比喻把小的力量集中起来,依靠一点一点的苦干来完成艰巨的任务,也比喻人多力量大,可以创造奇迹。

"嚼" (jiáo) chew

"嚼" costs both time and energy. "乱嚼舌根" (luàn jiáo shé ɡēn) means "backbite, gossip". "咬文嚼字" (yǎo wén jiáo zì) means "pay excessive attention to wording or be fastidious about wording".

是一种费时费力的事。"乱嚼舌根"指那些喜欢说三道四,背后论人是非,喜欢恶意揣测别人的人。"咬文嚼字"形容过分地斟酌字句。多指死扣字眼而不注意精神实质。

"品" (pǐn) taste

"品评" (pǐn pínɡ) means "comment on something". "细品人生" (xì pǐn rén shēnɡ) means "have a careful taste of different life experiences". "品位不高" (pǐn wèi bù ɡāo) means "have bad or poor taste". 

"品评"评价评论。"细品人生"指仔细品味人生百般滋味。"品味不高"指一个人欣赏能力有限,层次不高。

"吞" (tūn) swallow

"吞并" (tūn bìnɡ) means "merger". "囫囵吞枣" (hú lún tūn zǎo) means "gulping down a whole date" literally and "lap up information without digesting it; read without understanding". "独吞" (dú tūn) means "take exclusive possession of something". "打落牙齿和血吞" (dǎ luò yá chǐ huò xuè tūn) means "knock off a tooth and swallow it with blood" literally and "cover up one's loss or failure from being known to others and pretend to be fine".

"吞并"合并"。"囫囵吞枣"比喻对事物不加分析思考。"独吞"单独吞并。"打落牙齿和血吞"比喻吃了亏不让别人知道或失败了还要充好汉。

"饱" (bǎo) feel full

Many words have been derived from "饱". "中饱私囊" (zhōnɡ bǎo sī nánɡ) means "fill one's own pocket with public funds". "大饱眼福" (dà bǎo yǎn fú) means "feast one's eyes". "饱经风霜" (bǎo jīnɡ fēnɡ shuānɡ) means "weather-beaten; having experienced the hardships of life". "吃饱了撑的" (chī bǎo le chēnɡ de) means "have nothing better to do after overeating" literally and "do something silly or senseless" figuratively.

引申出的词语或比喻非常多。"中饱私囊"比喻把别人或公家的财物占为己有,或从中牟利。大饱眼福"比喻大开眼界"。"饱经风霜"比喻饱尝人生艰辛与磨难。"吃饱了撑的"比喻那些无所事事,喜欢做一些无聊事的人。

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2016-06-21

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