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Sự tích 100 thành ngữ Hán ngữ (đã được dịch sang Anh ngữ và Việt ngữ)

20 Mar

01. LOOKING FOR STEED WITH THE AID OF ITS PICTURE
Tìm ngựa hay theo tranh vẽ

In the Spring and Autumn Period (770 – 476 BC), there was a man in the State of Qin called Bo Le, who was an expert at judging horses. Based on his experience and knowledge of horses, he wrote a book in which he introduced the shapes and characteristics of fineness both in words and illustrations. His son, having no firsthand experience of horses, set out to look for fine horses according to the instructions in the book. But he found nothing.

This idiom is metaphorically used to indicate the lack of practical experience and doing things mechanically by following set rules.
(Thành ngữ này dùng để chỉ hành động một cách máy móc và giáo điều trong khi thiếu kinh nghiệm thực tiễn).

02. HUNDRED SHOTS, HUNDRED BULL’S EYES
Bách phát bách trúng

In the Spring and Autumn Period, there was an expert archer in the State of Chu called Yang Youji. To test his skill, someone choose three leaves at different heights on a willow tree, and challenged him to hit them in order. Yang Youji stood more than one hundred paces away and hit the three leaves, respectively.

This idiom describes excellent marksmanship. Later it became used to indicating great precision and perfect assurance.
(Thành ngữ này miêu tả tài thiện xạ. Về sau, nó thường quen dùng để chỉ tính chính xác cao và điều hoàn toàn chắc chắn).

03. SHOWING OFF ONE’S PROFICIENCY WITH THE AXE BEFORE LU BAN THE MASTER CARPENTER
Múa rìu qua mắt thợ

Lu Ban was supposed to be a consummate carpenter in ancient time. It is said once he carved a wooden phoenix which was so lifelike that it could actually fly in the sky for three days. Thus, it was considered the height of folly to show off one’s skill with an axe in front of Lu Ban.

This idiom excoriates those who show off their slight accomplishments in front of experts.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ trích những ai khoe khoang thành tựu nhỏ trước mặt chuyên gia).

04. MISTAKING THE REFLECTION OF BOW FOR SNAKE
Thần hồn nát thần tính

In the Jin Dynasty (265 – 420), a man called Yue Guang once invited a friend to have a drink at his home. When the friend lifted his cup, he saw a small snake in the wine, yet he forced himself to drink. Back home, the friend recalled the incident, and felt so disgusted that he fell ill. Hearing about this, Yue Guang invited his friend again. He asked him to sit in the same place and drink. Then his friend saw that the image of the snake in the cup was actually the reflection of a bow hung on the wall. Realizing this, the friend recovered quickly.

This idiom indicates a condition of being over-suspicious bringing trouble on oneself.
(Thành ngữ này ngụ ý một tình trạng quá đa nghi dẫn đến rắc rối cho chính mình).

05. BUILDING CART BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Đóng cửa làm xe

In ancient times, there was a man who wanted to make a fine chariot. But, instead of lerning how to do it from expert, he shut himself up at home and worked at it. Despite the effort he spent on it, the chariot was useless.

This idiom is used metaphorically to mean being too subjective and disregarding the rest of the world.
(Thành ngữ này hàm chỉ việc quá chủ quan và bất cần phần còn lại của thế giới).
06. THE DISEASE HAS ATTACKED THE VITALS
Bệnh tình nguy kịch

In the Spring and Autumn Period, King Jing of the State of Jin fell ill. One night he dreamed that the disease turned into two small figures talking beside him. One said, “I’m afraid the doctor will hurt us.” The other said, “Don’t worry! We can hide above huang and below gao. Then the doctor will be able to do nothing to us.” The next day, having examined the king, the doctor said, “Your disease is incurable, I am afraid, Your Majesty. It’s above huang and below gao, where no medicine can reach.”

This idiom indicates a hopeless condition.
(Thành ngữ này ngụ ý tình trạng vô vọng).

07. EVERY BUSH AND TREE LOOKS LIKE ENEMY
Thần hồn nát thần tính

In AD 383, the king of Former Qin, Fu Jian, led a huge army to attack Eastern Jin. After losing the first round of fighting, Fu Jian looked down from a city wall, and was terrified when he saw formidable array of the Eastern Jin army. And then looking at the mountains around, he mistook the grass and trees for enemy soldiers. As a result, when the nervous Fu Jian led his army into battle, it suffered a crushing defeat.

This idiom describes how one can defeat oneself by imagining difficulties.
(Thành ngữ này miêu tả việc một người có thể tự bại chính anh ta bắng cách hính dung khó khăn như thế nào).

08. BLOWING APART THE HAIRS UPON FUR TO DISCOVER ANY DEFECT
Bới lông tìm vết

In ancient times there was a man who was a notorious nitpicker. Once he went to buy a fur cloak. To check the fur, he blew the hairs apart, looking for trivial defects.

This idiom came to be used to describe looking for tiny faults.
(Thành ngữ này được dùng để diễn tả việc bới móc những việc cỏn con).

09. BEATING THE GRASS AND FLUSHING OUT THE SNAKE
Rút dây động rừng (đánh cỏ động rắn)

In the ancient times there was a county magistrate who took bribes and practised graft. One day, somebody sent him a petition accusing his secrectary of practising graft and taking bribes. The magistrate trembled when he read the petition. He wrote on it: “You have beaten the grass and frightened a snake.”

This idiom refers to alerting the target of one’s scheme by being incautions.
(Thành ngữ này hàm chỉ việc báo cho người khác biết mục tiêu kế hoạch của mình bằng việc thiếu thận trọng và làm cho họ đề phòng và sẵn sàng hành động).

10. LURING THE TIGER OUT OF THE MOUNTAINS
Điệu hổ ly sơn

The tiger is a ferocious animal which lives in the mountains. Only by luring it away from the mountains, can one subdue it.

This idiom is metaphorically used to mean enticing an enemy away his safe haven in order to put him at a disadvantage.
(Thành ngữ này ngụ ý chỉ việc dụ kẻ thù ra khỏi nơi ẩn náu để đưa anh ta vào thế bất lợi).

11. APING THE BEAUTY’S FROWN
Đông Thi chau mày

In the Spring and Autumn Period, there was a beauty in the State of Yue called Xishi. She often suffered from pains in her chest, and so she would often walk around doubled over and with her brows knitted. There was an ugly girl in the village called Dongshi who envied Xishi. Striving to emulate Xishi, she imitated her stoop, knitting her brows at the same time. She thought that this made her elegant, but, in fact, it only made her more ugly.

Later, this idiom came to be used to indicate improper imitation that produces the reverse effect.
(Về sau, thành ngữ này được sử dụng để chỉ sự bắt chước không phù hợp dẫn đến phản tác dụng).

12. PLAYING THE LUTE TO COW
Đàn gảy tai trâu

In ancient times there was a man who played the zither very well. Once, he played a tune in front of a cow, hoping that the cow would appreciate it. The tune was melodious, but the cow showed no reaction, and just kept on eating grass. The man sighed, and went away.

This idiom is used to indicate reasoning with stubborn people or talking to the wrong audience.
(Thành ngữ này được dùng để chỉ việc thuyết phục kẻ bướng bỉnh hay nói chuyện với khán không thích hợp).

13. BRINGING THE BIRCH AND ASKING FOR FLOGGING
Cúi đầu nhận tội

In the Warring States Period (475 – 221 BC), Lian Po and Lin Xiangru were both officials of the State of Zhao. Having rendered outstanding service. Lian Xiangru was promoted above Lian Po. Disgruntled, Lian Po announced that he intended to humiliate Lin the next time he met him. Lin Xiangru, putting the benefit of the country first, avoided Lian Po in order not to cause conflict, thus bringing opprobrium on himself. Later, when Lian Po realised his mistake, he was so ashemed that he went to Lin’s home carrying brambles on his naked back and asking for punishment.

This idiom indicates acknowledging one’s mistake and offering a sincere apology.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ việc thú nhận lỗi lầm và chân thành xin lỗi).

14. RUINING ENTERPRISE FOR THE LACK OF ONE BASKETFUL
Công quy nhất khuy

Once a man planned to build a terrace. He worked very hard and spent lot of time digging and carrying earth. When the mound was almost completed and only one more basket of earth was needed, the man gave up. The terrace was never completed.

This idiom means to fail to succeed for lack of a final effort. It has a connotation of pity.
(Thành ngữ này có ý nói thất bại vì thiếu nỗ lực vào giơ phút chót (cuối cùng). Nó chỉ sự hối tiếc theo nghĩa rộng.)

15. CONTENT WITH STAYING WHERE ONE IS
Dậm chân tại chỗ

Once upon a time, a certain man wanted to go to a distant place. But he kept on walking in circles. After a long time, he thought he must have travelled a great distance. But when he looked around, he found that he was still at the starting point.

This idiom is used to describe those who are content with things as they are, and are not eager to make progress.
(Thành ngữ này miêu tả những người hài lòng với những thứ có sẵn và không háo hức hành động để tiến bộ).

16. SPITTING SAND ON SHADOW-ATTACKING BY INSINUATION
Ngậm máu phun người

Legend has it that once there was a water monster called Yu. It had horns, a shell, wings and three legs, but no eyes. There was a catapult in its mouth. If Yu heard the steps of a man, it would shoot sand from its mouth at him. If even the man’s shadow was hit, the man would fall ill.

This idiom indicates vilifying people by insinuation.
(Thành ngữ này ám chỉ việc gièm pha băng lời nói bóng gió)

17. BASKING IN REFLECTED GLORY
Cáo mượn oai hùm

A tiger caught a fox in a forest, and was just about to eat it, when the fox said, “You mustn’t eat me. I was sent by Heaven to rule the animals. By eating me, you will violate the command of Heaven. If you don’t believe me, just follow me to see whether the animals are afraid of me.” The tiger agreed, and followed the fox as it walked around the forest. The animals all ran away on seeing them. The tiger thought they were afraid of the fox, so he let it go. He didn’t realise that it was him that the beasts were really afraid of.

This idiom means relying on another’s power to bully or frighten others.
(Thành ngữ này ngụ chỉ rằng dùng quyền lực của kẻ khác để dọa nạt hay làm khiếp đảm những người khác)

18. GULPING DOWN WHOLE DATE
Ăn tươi nuốt sống

A physician once told a group of people: “Dates are good for the spleen, but harmful for the teeth.” On hearing this, one man said, “I have a good idea: When eating dates, we should just swallow them whole without chewing them. Then we can both enjoy the advantage and avoid the disavantage.

This story gave rise to the above idiom, which refers to lapping up information without digesting it, or reading without understanding or analysing.
(Câu chuyện này đưa ra căn nguyên cho thành ngữ trên – đề cập đến việc ai nói cái gì cũng tin mà không hiểu thấu hoặc đọc mà không hiểu hoặc không phân tích)

19. ALLAYING HUNGER WITH PICTURES OF CAKES
Ăn bánh vẽ

In the Three Kingdom Period (220-280), the king of the State of Wei, Cao Rui, wanted to select a very capable man to work for him. He said to his ministers: “When choosing a talented person, always beware of one with a false reputation. A false reputation is just like a picture of a cake; it can’t relieve hunger.”
Later, this idiom came to be used
to mean comforting oneself with unrealistic thoughts, without solving practical problems.
(Về sau, thành ngữ này được dùng chỉ việc tự an ủi bặng những ý nghĩ phi thực tế, bằng cách không giải quyết những vấn đề thực tế)

20. PUTTING THE FINISHING TOUCH TO THE PICTURE OF DRAGON
Vẽ mắt cho rồng/ Họa long điểm nhãn

In the Southern and Northern Dynasties Period (420-589), there was a painter called Zhang Zengyou. Once he visited a tample and painted on the wall four dragons, but gave none of them eyes. The onlookers felt that this was odd, and asked why he hadn’t painted the eyes. He asnwered, “Eyes are crucial for dragons. With the eyes painted on, the dragons would fly away.” Nobody believed this, so Zhang Zengyou took up his brush and added eyes to two of dragons. No sooner had he finished than the two dragons flew into the sky amid a thunderstorm. The two without eyes stayed painted on the wall.

This idiom is used to describe when writing or speaking, one or two key sentences will enhance the contents.
(Thành ngữ này dùng để chỉ rằng một hoặc hai câu chủ chốt sẽ tăng cường nội dung khi nói hoặc viết)

21. DRAWING SNAKE AND ADDING FEET
Vẽ rắn thêm chân

In the Warring States Period, a man in the State of Chu was offering a sacrifice to his ancestors. The servants thought that there was not enough wine for all of them, and decided to each draw a picture of snake; the one who finished the picture first would get the wine. One of them drew very rapidlly. Seeing that the others were still busy drawing, he added feet to the snake. At this moment another man finished, snatched the beaker and drank the wine, saying: “A snake doesn ‘t have feet. How can you add feet to the snake?”

This idiom refers to ruining a venture by doing unnecessary and surplus things.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ việc làm hỏng một công trình vì làm những việc vô bổ và thừa thải).

22. BIRDS STARTLED BY THE MERE TWANG OF BOWSTRING
Chim sợ cành cong

In the Warring States Period, there was a man in the State of Wei called Geng Lei. One day he said to the king : “I can shoot down birds by simply plucking my bowstring.” When the king expressed doubt, Geng Lei pointed his bow at the wild goose flying in the sky, twanged the bowstring, and the goose fell to the ground. Geng Lei said : “This goose has been hurt in past. Hearing the twang of the bowstring, it assumed that it was doomed. So it simply gave up trying to live.”

This idiom means that if one has been frightened in the past one ‘s will may become paralysed in the similar situation.
(Thành ngữ ngày có ý rằng người từng trải qua kinh hãi sẽ trở nên kinh hoàng ở trong tình huống tương tự).

23. JINGWEI FILLS UP THE SEA
Tinh Vệ lấp biển

It said that in remote antiquity King Yan had a daughter. One day she went to East Sea to play, and was accidentally drowned. After her death she became a brave and beautiful bird, and was called the jingwei bird, in imitation of her cry. She was determined to fill up the sea. So every day she would pick up twigs and pebbles from the East Mountain and drop them into the sea.

This idiom describes an indomitable will to achieve one’s goal regardless of all difficulties.

(Thành ngữ này chỉ ra rằng con người có chí bất khuất sẽ đạt được mục tiêu bất chấp mọi khó khăn gian khổ).

24. FROG IN WELL
Ếch ngồi đáy giếng

At the bottom of a well there lived a frog, which had never left the well in its life. One day he was visited by a turtle from the East Sea. The frog boasted to the turtle about the wideness and fineness of the well. But when the turtle told the frog about the sea, the frog felt humbled.

This idiom is used to satirize those who are shallow or narrow-minded.
(Thành ngữ này dùng để châm biếm những kẻ nông cạn hoặc thiển cận).

25. NOTCHING THE BOAT TO FIND THE SWORD
Khắc dấu mạn thuyền

In the Warring States Period, a man in the State of Chu had a sword which he cherished very much. One day, when he was crossing a river in a boat, the sword suddenly fell into the water. The man then made a mark on the side of the boat at the spot where the sword had fallen overboard. When the boat reached the shore, he jumped from the spot he marked into the water to look for his sword.

This idiom satirizes those who stick to rigid rules instead of taking changed circumstances into account.
(Thành ngữ này châm biếm những kẻ cứ bám víu vào những quy luật cứng nhắc thay vì xem xét những tình huống (đã) thay đổi).

26. CASTLE IN THE AIR
Lâu đài trên không

A rich man asked an architect to build a three-story house for him. When the first story was finished, the rich man said to the architect, “I want only the third story, not the first and the second stories.” The architect asked, “But without the first and second stories, how can I build the third story?” Shaking his head, he pack up his things and left.
This idiom indicates an unrealistic or impractical plan or theory.

(Thành ngữ này ngụ chỉ một kế hoạch hoặc lý thuyết phi hiện thực hoặc không thực tế).

27. PASSING ONESEFL OFF AS MEMBER OF THE ORCHESTRA
Tốt xấu lẫn lộn

In the Warring States Period, King Xuan of the State of Qi loved to listen yu- an ancient wind instrument. He would order 300 misicians to play the yu for him at the same time. Mr Nan Guo, who couldn’t play the instrument, passed himself off as one of the musicians. When King Xuan died, his son King Min succeeded to the throne. King Min also loved yu, but he preferred solo performances. Mr Nan Guo thereupon slipped away from the orchestra.

This idiom is used to describe those who have no actual skills but pretend to be experts, or the passing off of inferior things as high-quality ones.
(Thành ngữ này dùng để miêu tả những kẻ không có kỹ năng thực sự nhưng tỏ ra là một chuyên gia, hoặc tả việc làm không cho người ta không chú ý đến những thứ kém cỏi bằng những thứ có chất lượng cao).

28. WOLF WORKING HAND IN GLOVE WITH JACKAL
Lang bái vi gian

A wolf and a jackal often went hunting together. Once they came to sheepfold the walls of which were firmly built and too high for them to get over. Then they had an idea: Since the wolf had long forelegs and short hindlegs while the jackal had short forelegs and long hindlegs, the wolf stood on the neck of the jackal, and the jackal stood up on its hindlegs. In this way the wolf climbed over the wall to where the sheep were.

This idiom is used to describe doing evil things in collusion with others.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ việccâu kết phạm tội).

29. OLD HORSE KNOWS THE WAY
Ngựa quen đường cũ

In the Spring and Autumn Period, Duke Huan of Qi led an army to attack a small state in the north. They went in spring when green grass covered the ground. But when they came back it was winter. Everywhere was white with snow and the wind was howling. The troops lost their way. While everybody was worrying, Guan Zhong, the duke’s chief minister, suggested: “An old horse may know the way.”So the duke ordered several old horses to be selected to lead the army. Finally, they found the way back home.

This idiom refers to the value of experience.
(Thành ngữ chỉ giá trị của kinh nghiệm).

30. GENTLEMAN ON THE BEAM
Quân tử xà nhà

In the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) there was a man called Chen Shi. One night, a thief slipped into his room. Hidding above the beam, the thief waited for Chen Shi to go to sleep. Chen Shi noticing the thief, called his children and granchildren together, saying, “To be a man one should have aspirations. Evildoers are not born evil. But if one get used to doing evil things, it will be hard to reform.” The thief, hearing this, hurriedlly jumped down and knelt on the ground to beg forgiveness.

This idiom is used to refer to a thief.
(Thành ngữ này dùng để chỉ một tên trộm).

31. NOT DIGGING WELL UNTIL ONE IS THIRSTY
Khát mới đào giếng

In the Spring and Autumn Period, Duke Zhao of the State of Lu fled to the State of Qi, following palace turmoil. He admitted his mistake to Duke Jing of Qi. Duke Jing advised him to go back of Lu, as he might become a wise ruler, since he recognised his faults. But Yanzi, an official of Qi, said, “It is too late to make weapons when one is endangered, and to dig a well when one is choked in eating and needs water desperately.”

This idiom warns against not being prepared, but seeking help at the last moment.
(Thành ngữ này cảnh báo việc không chuẩn bị kỹ càng nhưng lại tìm kiếm trợ giúp vào giờ phút cuối)

32. STORM ENVELOPING THE CITY
Tiếng đồn khắp nơi

In the Northern Song Dynasty, there was a man called Pan Dalin who was a renowned poet. As the Double Ninth Festival was approaching, the trees swayed in the autumn wind and rain. The poet, inspired by the scene, wrote a beautiful line: “The Double Ninth Festival is approaching with wind and rain sweeping across the town.” Just at that moment, the local tax collector came to demand payment. Thereupon, all Pan’s inspiration vanished.

Later, the first part of the line came to be used as a set phrase meaning “the talk of town”.
(Về sau phần đầu của dòng thơ được dùng như một ngữ tổng thể mang nghĩa “tin đồn của thị tứ”)

33. BLIND MEN TOUCHING ELEPHANT
Thầy bói xem voi

A group of blind men gathered around an elephant, trying to find out what the creature looked like. One of them happened to touch one of the tusks, and said: “An elephant is just like a turnip.” Another touched one of the elephant’s ears, and said, “It is like a big fan.” One put his arms around one of the beast’s legs, and said: “It is like a column.” One who happened to place his hand on the body of the elephant said, “It is like wall.” But the one who got hold of the tail said, “It is like a snake.” They then fell to arguing with each other.

This idiom is used to satirize those who know only part of a thing, not the entirety or essence.
(Thành ngữ này dùng để chế nhạo những kẻ chỉ biết một phần sư vật (hoặc sự việc) chứ không phải toàn bộ hay cốt lõi)

34. MAO SUI RECOMMENDING HIMSELF
Mao Toại tự tiến cử

In the Warring States Period, the State of Qin besieged the capital of the State of Zhao. Duke Pingyuan of Zhao planned to ask the ruler of the State of Chu personally for assistance. He wanted to select a capable man to go with him. A man called Mao Sui volunteered. When the negotiation between the two states were stalled because the ruler of Chu hesitated to send troops, Mao Sui approached him, brandishing a sword. At that, the ruler of Chu agreed to help Zhao, against Qin.

This idiom means to recommend oneself.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ việc tiến cử một ai đó)

35. COURTYARD AS CROWDED AS MARKETPLACE
Đông như chợ vỡ

In the Warring States Period, Duke Wei of the State of Qi accepted the suggestionof his minister Zou Ji and decided to gather widely opinions on ruling the state. He issued an order: “Regardless of whether a man is a minister or a commoner, anyone who points out my faults to my face will get the first prize; anyone who advises me in a memorial will get the second prize; anyone who criticizes me in public will get the third prize.” When they learned about this, the people flocked to the duke’s palace to present their opinions. The area in front of the palace gate was as busy as a market.

From this story is derived the idiom which describes a very busy scene.
(Thành ngữ miêu tả một cảnh nhộn nhịp được rút ra từ câu chuyện này)

36. FAILING TO PASS EXAMINATION
Xếp sau Tôn Sơn

In the Song Dynasty (960-1279) there was a joker called Sun Shan. One year he went to take the imperial examination, and came bottom of the list of successful candidates. Back in his hometown, one of his neighbours asked him whether the neighbour’s son had also passed. Sun Shan said, with a smile: “Sun Shan was the last one in the list. Your son came after Sun Shan.”

Later, people used this idiom to indicate failing in an examination or competition.
(Về sau người ta dùng thành ngữ này để chỉ việc thi hỏng hoặc bị đánh bại trong trận đấu)

37. GOING SOUTH BY DRIVING THE CHARIOT NORTH
Trống đánh xuôi kèn thổi ngược

Once a man wanted to go to the south, but his carriage was heading north. A passer-by asked him: “If you are going to the south, why is your chariod heading north?” The man answered, “My horse is good at running, my driver is highly skilled at driving a carriage, and I have enough money.” The man didn’t consider that the direction might be wrong; the better his conditions were, the further he was away from his destination.

The idiom derived from this story indicates that one’s action was the opposite effect to one’s intention.
(Thành ngữ được đúc kết từ câu chuyện biểu thị hành động của con người trái ngược với ý định)

38. SO ANGRY THAT ONE’S HAIR LIFTS UP ONE’S HAT
Tức dựng cả tóc gáy

In the Warring States Period, Lin Xiangru, chief minister of the State of Zhao, was sent as an envoy to the State of Qui to ask the ruler of Qin to return a fine piece of jade to Zhao. But the ruler of Qin was rude and unreasonable. Lin was angry, and his hair stood up so stiffly on his head that it lifted up his hat.

This idiom came to be used to mean being extremely angry.
(Thành ngữ này được dùng để chỉ việc tức giận tột độ)

39. BREAKING OPEN WAY THROUGH BRAMBLES AND THORNS
Quét sạch chông gai

The first emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Liu Xiu, greatly trusted a man named Feng Yi, who had helped him attain the throne. When someone slandered Feng Yi, Liu Xiu told his minister: “Feng Yi helped me to gain power. I successed because he broke through the thistle and thorns on the way (removed obstacles).”

This idiom derived from this story means to clear away difficulties and bravely advance.
(Thành ngữ được đúc rút từ câu chuyện này thể hiện việc vượt qua khó khăn và can đảm tiến tới)

40. ANT TRYING TO SHAKE BIG TREE
Châu chấu đá voi

Han Yu was a famous poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In one of his poems he wrote, “An ant tries to topple a giant tree, ridiculously overrating its ability.”

This idiom is later used to indicate overestimating one’s power and trying to overthrow someone much stronger.
(Thành ngữ này về sau được dùng để chỉ việc đánh giá quá cao sức mạnh của mình và cố gắng đánh bại người mạnh hơn (hay nói khác đi là khinh địch))

41. SMASHING THE CAULDRONS AND SINKING THE BOATS
Phá phủ trầm chu

During the late years of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), Xiang Yu led a rebellion. After crossing the Zhang River, Xiang Yu ordered his men to sink all their boats and break their cooking pots. He issued each soldier three days’ rations and warned them that there was no way to retreat; the only thing they could do to survive was to advance and fight. After nine fierce battles, the Qin army was finally defeated.

This idiom is used to indicate one’s firm determination to achieve one’s goal at any cost. (Thành ngữ này được dùng để chỉ sự kiên quyết để đạt được mục đích của mình bằng bất cứ giá nào)

42. BROKEN MIRROR MADE WHOLE AGAIN
Gương vỡ lại lành

In the Northern and Southern Dynasties when the State of Chen (557-589) was facing its demise. Xu Deyan, husband of the princess, broke a bronze mirror into halves. Each of them kept a half as token in case they were separated. Soon afterward, they did lose touch with each other, but the two halves of the mirror enabled them to be reunited.

This idiom is used to refer to the reunion of a couple after they lose touch or break up. (Thành ngữ này chỉ sự đoàn tụ của một đôi sau khi họ mất liên lạc hoặc chia tay)

43. RIDING TIGER, HARD TO DISMOUNT
Cưỡi trên lưng cọp

Yang Jian was the regent of the last king of Northern Zhou (557-581). His wife advised him: “Northern Zhou is dying. Now it is as if you are riding on the back of a tiger: It will be dangerous to dismount. You can do nothing but continue.” Yang thought this quite reasonable. Later, he founded the Sui Dynasty and united China once more.

This idiom is used as a metaphor meaning that one is in a difficult situation and cannot help but continue to pursue one’s course.
(Thành ngữ này được dùng như một ẩn dụ để chỉ một người đang ở trong hoàn cảnh khó khăn và không thể làm gì ngoài tiếp tục theo đuổi sự nghiệp của mình)

44. WORRIED THE SKY WOULD FALL DOWN
Sợ bóng sợ gió

In the Spring and Autumn Period, in the State of Qi there was a man who always let his imagination run away with him. One day he even worried that the sky would fall on his head. He was so worried that he could neither eat nor sleep. Later, someone persuaded him that his fears were groundless.

This idiom satirizes those who are worried unnecessarily.
(Thành ngữ này châm biếm những kẻ lo sợ (một cách) dư thừa)

45. THE GUIZHOU DONKEY HAS EXHAUSTED ITS TRICKS
Bản lĩnh xoàng xĩnh

In ancient times there were no donkeys in Guizhou Province. Somebody brought a donkey from somewhere and tied it to a tree at the foot of a mountain. A tiger saw the donkey, and thought that it must be a fearsome monster. It hid behind a tree and spied on the donkey. When the donkey brayed, the tiger was frightened, thinking that the donkey was about to devour it. After a while, seeing that the donkey had not moved, the tiger approached it and teased it. The donkey became angry, and kicked the tiger. The tiger thought to itself: “Is that all it is capable of?” It then jumped on the donkey and ate it.

This idiom is used to mean that one has exhausted one’s skills.
(Thành ngữ này được dùng để chỉ một người đã dốc hết khả năng của mình).

46. THE DAY IS WANING AND THE ROAD WAS ENDING
Vô kế khả thi

In the Spring and Autumn Period, Duke Ping of Chu was misled by slanderers, and had Wu Zixu’s father executed. Wu Zixu fled to the State of Wu. More than ten years later, Wu Zixu took his revenge by helping Wu conquer Chu. Yet he suffered agonies of remorse, because his countrymen called him a traitor. He protested, “I’m just like a traveler. It’s already late, but I still have a long way to go. I simply don’t know what to do.”

This idiom comes from the above story. It means being in a very difficult situation, at the end of one’s tether.
(Thành ngữ này bắt nguồn từ câu chuyện trên. Nó chỉ việc ở trong tình thế khó khăn ở giới hạn cuối cùng của sức chịu đựng của một người)

47. LIKE RAGGING FIRE
Khí thế sục sôi

During the Spring and Autumn Period, Duke Fuchai of Wu led a huge army against the State of Jin. He ordered his men to form three square contingents. The middle one was dressed in white and holding white flags, which looked from a distance just like the flowers of a field full of reeds. The left unit was in red and holding red flags, which looked from afar like flaming fire all over the mountains. The right unit was in black and holding black flags, which looked from a distance like thick black clouds covering the sky. Fuchai was trying to present to the enemy a show of overwhelming force.

This idiom describes a scene of great momentum and exuberance.
(Thành ngữ này miêu tả khí thế hăng hái)

48. TO FEEL JUST LIKE FISH IN WATER
Như cá gặp nước

In the Three Kingdom Period, Liu Bei went to Longzhong in Hubei Province three times to ask Zhuge Liang to assist him. Finally, Zhuge Liang helped Liu Bei to deal with military affairs and politics, and was greatly trusted by the latter. Their regard for each other became deeper and deeper. Liu Bei said to his minister: “Having Kong Ming (another name of Zhuge Liang) assist me, I feel just like a stranded fish which has been put back in the water.”

This idiom is used to describe finding a boon companion or an ideal situation.
(Thành ngữ này dùng miêu tả việc tìm ra một bạn đồng hành hào hiệp hoặc một hoàn cảnh lý tưởng)

49. TO ENTER THREE-TENTHS OF INCH INTO THE TIMBER
Nhập mộc tam phân

Wang Xichi was a famous calligrapher of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420). His style was beautiful, bold and vigorous. He was very diligent about practicing; even when resting, he would engage in figuring out the structure of characters by “writing” on his clothes unceasingly. With the passage of time, his clothes were worn out by rubbing. It is said that once a carpenter found that the ink of the characters he had written on a plank had soaked almost one centimeter into it.

This idiom originally described the vigor of Wang Xishi’s handwriting. Later it came to be used to mean penetrating analysis.
(Thành ngữ này đầu tiên chỉ sự sức mạnh chữ viết của Vương Hi Chi. Về sau người ta dùng để chỉ việc phân tích sâu sắc)

50. THE OLD MAN OF THE FRONTIER LOST HIS HORSE
Tái ông mất ngựa

In ancient times, an old man living on the frontier lost a horse. His neighbor came to comfort him. But the old man said, “Losing a horse could be a bad thing, but it might turn into a good thing. Who can tell?” A few months later, the lost horse came back, bringing with it another fine steed.

This idiom is used metaphorically to mean that sometimes people may benefit from a temporary loss or setback. In other words, a calamity may turn into a blessing. (Thành ngữ này là ẩn dụ chỉ thỉnh thoảng người ta có lợi từ mất mát hoặc thất bại tạm thời. Hay nói cách khác tai ương có thể hóa phúc lành)

51. PAYING THREE VISITS TO THE COTTAGE
Tam cố mao lư

In the Three Kingdom Period, Zhuge Liang lived in seclusion in a thatched cottage. Liu Bei, hearing that Zhuge Liang was very knowledgeable and capable, went to visit him, taking gifts, hoping that Zhuge Liang would agree to assist him with statecraft. He had to make three visits before Zhuge Liang agreed to do so, impressed by his sincerity. From then on, Zhuge Liang helped Liu Bei with all his heart, and made great achievements in both the military and political spheres.

This idiom means persisting with sincerity.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ việc kiên trì một cách chân thành)

52. REPEAT LIE ENOUGH TIMES, AND IT WILL BE BELIEVED
Tam nhân thành hổ

In the Warring States Period, Pang Cong, a minister of the State of Wei, said to the ruler of Wei: “Someone said that there are tigers in the streets. Do you believe it?” His master answered, “No, I don’t believe it.” Pang Cong said later: “Now two people have said that there are tigers in the streets. Do you believe?” The ruler showed some doubt. Then Pang Cong said again: “Now three people have said the same thing. Do you believe it?” The ruler said: “Yes, I do.” Pang Cong continued, “There are no tigers in the streets at all. Yes if three people say the same thing, you believe it! We must be alert against rumors gaining credence.”

This idiom points out that a rumor, if repeated often enough, may come to be believed.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ ra rằng một tin đồn nếu được lập lại đủ thường xuyên có thể làm người ta tin)

53. HOMELESS DOG
Táng gia chi khuyển

In the Warring States Period, Confucius led his disciples on visits to various states. They went offering their services everywhere but were always rebuffed. One day, in the State of Zheng, Confucius lost his disciples. He stood outside the east gate by himself, not knowing what to do. A citizen of Zheng then mocked Confucius: “Look at him,” he said. “Isn’t he like a stray cur?” Hearing this, Confucius smiled, and said uncaringly: “Yes, yes, indeed.”

This idiom originally referred to dogs of families in mourning. Later it came to be used to indicate homeless dogs, and refers metaphorically to people with nowhere to go and no one to turn to.
(Thành ngữ này đầu tiên chỉ những con chó của những gia đình có tang. Về sau người ta dùng chỉ những con chó không nhà và hàm chỉ những người vô gia cư và không có ai để trông cậy)

54. KILLING THE CHICKEN TO FRIGHTEN THE MONKEYS
Giết gà dọa khỉ

In ancient times, there was a man who raised monkeys, which more and more mischievous as they grew up and often destroyed his things. One day the man caught a cock. He assembled the monkeys and said to them: “If you don’t behave and stop causing troubles, you will end up like the cock.” Then he killed the cock in front of the monkeys. Seeing this, the monkeys were frightened, and became obedient thereafter.

This idiom is metaphorically used to mean to frighten somebody by punishing someone else.
(Thành ngữ này hàm chỉ việc làm ai phát sợ bằng cách phạt người khác)

55. MAKING GREAT CLAMOR
Bàn tán xôn xao

Once in the Warring States Period, the State of Jin was at war with the State of Chu. Duke Gong of Chu stood on a high platform built on a chariot and watched movements of the Jin army. After watching for a while, he said, “It’s quite noisy over there and cloud of dust has been stirred up.” His aide answered, “The enemy are filling up wells and destroying their cooking stoves. They are preparing to fight.”

This idiom is now used to mean a lot of commotion over hearsay.
(Thành ngữ này ngày nay được dùng để chỉ nhiều xôn xao vì bị ảnh hưởng bởi tin đồn)

56. LIKE SPLITTING BAMBOO
Thế như chẻ tre

In the Jin Dynasty (265-420), General Du Yu led troops to attack the State of Wu. He achieved victory after victory along the route. Somebody suggested that they should stop and take a rest until the following year. But Du Yu said, “Now the morale of our troops is very high. Attacking Wu is just like splitting a bamboo: Having split open the first few joints, the rest will be easily split.” So he went on to eliminate the State of Wu.

This idiom means gaining a victory with irresistible force.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ việc chiến thắng bằng lực lượng bất khả chiến bại)

57. HAVEN OF PEACE AND HAPPINESS
Thế giới thần tiên

Tao Yuanming, a famous writer of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), wrote the well-known essay Peach-Blossom Spring. In it he tells a story which goes like this: A fisherman happened to come upon a place called Peach-Blossom Spring. Squeezing through a cave, he found a village, the residents of which were descendants of refugees from the Qin Dynasty. It was a paradise isolated from the outside world, without exploitation or oppression, and everybody living and working in peace and contentment. The fisherman left the villagers and went home. But he could never find the place again.

This idiom is derived from above story, and is used to mean an isolated, ideal world.
(Thành ngữ này bắt nguồn từ câu chuyện trên và được dùng chỉ một thế giới lý tưởng riêng biệt)

58. ALWAYS WITH BOOK IN HAND
Sách chẳng rời tay

Lu Meng was a meritorious general of the State of Wu during the Three Kingdom Period. He came from a poor family and had not had the chance to go to school when he was young. When he became a general, the duke of Wu encouraged him to read some books. Lu Meng took his advice, and started to study hard. Even when he was marching or fighting, he would find time to study. There was always a book in his hand. Finally, Lu Meng became a learned general.

This idiom is used to describe being diligent in study.
(Thành ngữ này được dùng để miêu tả việc chăm chỉ học hành)

59. SITTING BY STUMP, WAITING FOR CARELESS HARE
Ôm cây đợi thỏ (Há miệng chờ sung)

In the Spring and Autumn Period, a farmer in the State of Song was one day working in the fields, when he saw a rabbit bump into a tree stump accidentally and break its neck. The farmer took the rabbit home, and cooked himself a delicious meal. That night he thought, “I needn’t work so hard. All I have to do is waiting for a rabbit each day by the stump.” So from then on he gave up farming, and simply sat by the stump waiting for rabbits to come and run into it.

This idiom satirizes those who would rather wait for a stroke of luck than make efforts to obtain what they need.
(Thành ngữ này châm biếm những kẻ thích chờ một dịp may chỉ xảy ra một lần duy nhất hơn là nỗ lực để đạt những gì họ cần)

60. SICHUAN DOG BARKS AT THE SUN
Thục khuyển phệ nhật

A leading writer of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Liu Zongyuan, related how in Sichuan Province in Southwest China it was cloudy and foggy most of the year. The sun was hardly ever seen. So if the sun came out, the local dogs would feel that something strange was happening, and bark loudly.

This idiom is used to indicate being surprised at something normal because of one’s ignorance.
(Thành ngữ được dùng để chỉ việc ngạc nhiên về một thứ nào đó bình thường vì ngu dốt).

61. PUTTING IT ON HIGH SHELF
Thúc chi cao các

In the Jin Dynasty (265-420), there was a man called Yin Hao who was both capable and eloquent. Failure in a battle caused him to lose his position as a general. Someone suggested assigning Yin Hao again. But a general called Yu Yi did not agree, saying, “All we can do with someone like Yin Hao is tie him up and put him on a high shelf. We should not assign him again until the country is at peace.”

Later this idiom is used to mean putting aside something or someone and ignore it or him.
(Về sau thành ngữ được dùng chỉ việc để thứ nào đó hay người nào đó và lờ nó hoặc người đó đi)

62. WHEN THE WATER EBBS, STONES WILL APPEAR
Cháy nhà ra mặt chuột

In the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), poet Su Dongpo was once banished to Huangzhou in Hubei Province. There he visited the Red Cliff twice and wrote prose pieces called “The First Visit to the Red Cliff and the Second Visit to the Red Cliff”. In the later work, there was a line which goes: “High mountains and small moon, the rocks emerge when the water subsides.”

This idiom is metaphorically used to to mean that the whole comes to light after repeated investigation.
(Thành ngữ nả ngụ chỉ rằng toàn bộ sự việc lộ ra sau khi lập lại điều tra)

63. SONG OF CHU ON ALL SIDES
Bốn bề khốn đốn

At the end of the Qin Dynasty (221-206BC), the State of Chu and the State of Han fought for control of the country. Xiang Yu, the king of Chu, was besieged at a place called Gaixia by the Han army led by Liu Bang. Xiang Yu was in a desperate situation, with little food and a few soldiers. At night, the surrounding Han troops started to sing Chu folk songs. Xiang Yu was very surprised at this, and said, “Has Liu Bang occupied the whole of Chu? How can he have drafted so many Chu people into his army?” Then he fled together with the remainder of his forces.

This idiom is used metaphorically to mean to be in a helpless and critical situation, surrounded by the enemy on all sides.
(Thành ngữ này được dùng để chỉ việc ở trong tình huống mang tính chất quyết định và vô vọng – bị kẻ thù bao vây mọi phía)

64. TURN PALE AT THE MENTION OF TIGER
Đàm hổ sắc biến

Once upon a time, a man was telling stories about how tigers can injure people. Among the listeners there was a farmer who had once been attacked by a tiger and almost lost his life. He was so scared that his face turned pale.

This idiom means looking nervous and fearful when something awful is mentioned.
(Thành ngữ thể hiện việc bồn chồn và sợ sệt lúc việc kinh khủng được đề cập)

65. FLOWER VANISHES AS SOON AS APPEARS
Chóng nở chóng tàn

The broad-leaved epiphyllum is a beautiful and precious white flower which usually blooms at night, and its blossom only lasts for a brief period. According to a Buddhist legend, the plan blooms only on the birth of divine kings.

This idiom describes things that disappear shortly after they came into being.
(Thành ngữ này miêu tả những sự vật mau chóng biến mất sau khi chúng sinh ra)

66. MANTIS TRYING TO HALT CHARIOT
Châu chấu đá xe

Once a carter was driving his cart, when a mantis jumped out in front of the cart. Raising its forelegs, it tried to obstruct the passage of the cart. Of course, it was crushed by one of the wheels.

This idiom is used to mean overrating oneself and trying to do what is beyond one’s ability. The result can be nothing but failure.
(Thành ngữ này được dùng để chỉ việc đánh giá quá cao bản thân và cố gắng làm điều vượt quá khả năng. Kết quả không được gì ngoài thất bại)

67. AS IF IT WERE RAINING FLOWERS
Ba hoa chích choè

In the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589), in the reign of King Wu of Liang, there was a monk called Master Yun Guang who was a very accomplished preacher. Once he explained the sutra so profoundly and subtly that the God of Flowers was moved and sent divine flowers down to Earth. Soon the land was covered with flowers.

This idiom was metaphorically used to describe talking in a vivid and eloquent way (mostly in an exaggerated and impractical manner) later.
(Thành ngữ này về sau hàm mô tả việc nói rõ rang và đầy tính hùng biện (hầu như phi thực tế và thậm xưng)

68. THE END OF THE SKY AND THE CORNER OF THE SEA
Chân trời góc bể

The “edge of heaven and the corner of the sea” both refer to the remotest place. Hainan Island, located in the southernmost part of China, was considered the remotest place in ancient times. Su Shi, a famous poet of the Northern Song Dynasty, was exiled there in his later years. It is said that the two characters 天 涯 (the end of the world) on a huge rock on the southernmost tip of the island were written by Su Shi.

This idiom refers to remotest places or a very long distance between two people.
(Thành ngữ này đề cập đến những nơi xa xôi nhất hoặc một khoảng cách xa xôi giữa hai người)

69. DIVINE GARMENTS WITHOUT SEAMS
Không sai một ly

There was a man called Guo Han in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). One summer night, when the moon was very bright, he suddenly saw a girl descending slowly from the sky. He observed the girl closely, and found that the dress she was wearing was seamless. He was puzzled, and asked why. The girl answered, “Heavenly chothes are not sewn with needle and thread.”

This idiom is metaphorically used to indicate the flawless handling of things. It can also be used to indicate a perfectly written poem or another literary wrtiting.
(Thành ngữ này ngụ chỉ việc xử lý hoàn hoàn mỹ. Nó cũng có thể được dùng để chỉ một bài thơ tuyệt vời hoặc một tác phẩm văn học khác)

70. (CROSSING RIVER) IN THE SAME BOAT
Đồng hội đồng thuyền

In the Spring and Autumn Period, the State of Wu and the State of Yue often fought against each other, and their peoples looked upon each other as enemies. Once, people from the two states were crossing a river in the same boat. When the boat was in the middle of the river, a strong wind threatened to sink it. The people from the two states cooperated to ensure the safe arrival of the boat.

This idiom indicates that people should pull together to overcome difficulties, burying their differences in a time of common danger.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ ra rằng con người nên cùng nhau vượt qua khó khăn thử thách – vứt đi những sự khác biệt lúc hiểm nguy thông thường)

71. STEALING THE SKY AND CHANGING THE SUN
Thâu thiên hoán nhật

Can the boundless sky be stolen? Can the radiant sun be changed? There are certain people who are so keen on playing tricks that they even want to steal the sky and change the sun.

This idiom uses exaggerated words to indicate perpetrating fraud by changing important facts secretly.
(Thành ngữ này sử dụng những từ ngữ thậm xưng để chỉ việc phạm sai lầm khi bí mật thay đổi những việc quan trọng)

72. IF THE MAP UNROLLED, THE DAGGER TO BE REVEALED
Đồ cùng chủy kiến (Cái kim trong bọc có ngày cũng lòi ra)

In the late years of the Warring States Period, Jing Ke was entrusted by the crown prince of the State of Yan to assassinate the ruler of the State of Qin. In order to be able to get close to the latter, Jing Ke pretended to want to present to him a valuable map. The assassin had hidden a dagger in the rolled-up map. When the map was unrolled, the dagger was revealed.

This idiom means that when things come to the final stage, the truth or the real intention reveals.
(Thành ngữ này có ý rằng đến phút cuối thì sự thật hoặc ý định thật sự lộ ra ngoài)

73. RETURNING THE JADE INTACT TO ZHAO
Hoàn bích quy Triệu

In the Warring States Period, the ruler of Qin heard that the ruler of Zhao had a piece of priceless jade. Therefore, he offered to exchange 15 cities for it. At that time, the ruler of Zhao sent his minister Lin Xiangru with the jade to the State of Qin. However, after having presented the jade to the ruler of Qin, Lin Xiangru sensed a trick. By a ruse, he managed to get the jade back, and then threatened to smash it against a pillar. The ruler of Qin did not wanted to see the jade destroyed, so he allowed Lin to keep it for a few days before a formal handover ceremony. Then Lin Xiangru secrectly had the intactness sent back to his state.

This idiom now means returning intactness, which one has borrowed, to the owner.
(Thành ngữ này bây chỉ việc hoàn trả nguyên vẹn thứ mà mình đã mượn cho chính chủ)

74. MENDING THE FOLD AFTER THE SHEEP STOLEN
Mất bò mới lo làm chuồng

A man who raised sheep once noticed that there was a hole in the wall of his sheepfold. Nevertheless, he neglected to repair it. A few days later, several sheep were missing. His neighbor advised him: “It is not too late to mend the sheepfold.”

This idiom advises us that even though we have suffered a loss, it is never too late to take steps to prevent more losses.
(Thành ngữ này khuyên chúng ta cho dù chúng ta chịu đựng một mất mát nhưng ngăn những mất mát nữa thì không bao giờ muộn màng cả)

75. LOOKING AT PLUMS TO QUENCH TO THIRST
Vọng mai chỉ khát

In the Three Kingdoms Period (220 – 280), Cao Cao was once on a campaign during which his men failed to find any water. Cao Cao told them: “There are plum trees ahead. The sweet and sour plums will relieve your thirst.” Hearing this, the soldiers thought of the plums, and their mouths watered. This cured their thirst.

This idiom means to comfort oneself with fantasy.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ việc an ủi chính mình bằng tưởng tượng)

76. GAZING AT THE OCEAN AND SIGHING
Vọng dương hưng thán

One autumn, the rivers flooded, leaving a vast expanse of water everywhere. Seeing that, the God of Rivers was filled with pride at his vast domain. He then journeyed to the Northern Sea. When he saw the mighty ocean stretching to the horizon, he realized how puny he actually was, and sighed with disappointment.

This idiom originally meant feeling one’s own insignificance upon seeing another’s might. Now it is mostly used to indicate being able to do nothing but sigh before a huge task.
(Thành ngữ nay trước tiên chỉ việc cảm thấy mình tầm thường khi thấy sức mạnh của kẻ khác. Ngày nay nó hầu như được dùng để chỉ việc không thể làm gì ngoài thở dài trước nhiệm vụ to lớn)

77. HELPING THE TIGER TO POUNCE UPON ITS VICTIMS
Nối giáo cho giặc

An ancient legend has it that a tiger ate a man, and the man’s soul could not be freed until it found another man for the tiger to eat.

This idiom means to do evil things in the service of the wicked.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ việc làm ác để giúp kẻ xấu)

78. SLEEPING ON THORNBUSH AND TASTING GALL
Nằm gai nếm mật

In the Spring and Autumn Period, the State of Wu defeated the State of Yue, and took the king of Yue, Gou Jian, and his wife prisoner. For several years, Gou Jian laboured as a slave in Wu. When he was released and returned to Yue, Gou Jian was determined to take revenge for losing his state. Therefore, he slept on a pile of thornbush and tasted gall before every meal so that he would never forget his humiliation. After ten years of careful preparations, he attacked and finally conquered the State of Wu.

This idiom is used to describe self-inspiring and working hard to accomplish an ambition.
(Thành ngữ này dùng để thể hiện việc tự khuyên mình và làm việc chăm chỉ để đạt một tham vọng)

79. HIDING DAGGER BEHIND SMILE
Khẩu phật tâm xà (Miệng nam mô, bụng một bồ dao găm)

In the Tang Dynasty, there was a minister called Li Yifu who was always affable and smiling. However, in his heart he was very sinister and ruthless. He constanly schemed against people who he saw as possible rivals. He was called “The knife in the smile”.

This idiom, derived from the above story, means disguising a ruthless nature behind a pleasant appearance.
(Thành ngữ này, được đút rút từ câu chuyện trên, chỉ việc ngụy trang một bản chất độc ác phía sau một vẻ ngoài dễ mến)

80. HAVING READY-FORMED PLAN (WELL-PREPARED)
Chuẩn bị kỹ lưỡng

In the Song Dynasty, an artist called Wen Tong was especially fond of drawing bamboos. He planted many bamboos in his garden so that he could observe the process of their growth and appearance in different seasons. He knew bamboos so well that whenever he took up the paintbrush, he already had a picture in his mind, and thus he could always paint bamboos in a vivid and lively way.

This idiom is used to indicate having an available well-thought-out plan before one sets out to do something, making success assured.
(Thành ngữ này được dùng để chỉ việc lập kế hoạch chu đáo trước khi người ta làm gì đó nên đoan chắc thành công)

81. CUTTING ONE’S FEET TO FIT ONE’S SHOES
Cắt chân cho vừa giầy

The Han Dynasty (206 BC -220 AD) book titled Huai Nan Zi contained a story about a foolish man who went out to buy shoes. The shopkeeper handed him a pair that was small. The foolish man, instead of asking for another pair, tried to cut his feet to fit the shoes. When the foolish man went to buy a cap, the first cap he tried was too small, so he tried to cut off his scalp so that the cap would fit.

This idiom satirizes those who handle things without considering the actual situation, but rigidly apply unsuitable rules.
(Thành ngữ này châm biếm những kẻ giải quyết sự việc không cân nhắc tình huống thật mà chỉ áp dụng những quy luật không phù hợp một cách cứng nhắc)

82. PULLING UP SEEDLINGS TO HELP THEM GROW
Át miêu trợ trưởng

In the Spring and Autumn Period, there was a farmer who was impatient by nature. He thought his rice shoots were growing too slowly, so he decided to help them by pulling them. One day at dusk, he went back home dog-tired and said to his family: “I helped the rice shoots grow today.” Hearing this, his son hurried to the field, only to find that all the plants had withered.

This idiom refers to spoiling things because of being over-anxious for results and ignoring the rules of nature.
(Thành ngữ này đề cập đến việc làm hỏng việc do quá quan ngại về kết quả và phớt lờ những quy luật tự nhiên)

83. PLUGGING ONE’S EARS WHITE STEALING BELL
Bịt tai trộm chuông

In the Spring and Autumn Period, a man in State of Jin took a fancy to a bronze bell and wanted to steal it. The bell was too large and heavy to be moved away, so he decided to smash it to pieces. However, when his hammer struck the bell, it gave out a deep booming sound. Fearing that he might be heard, he covered his ears, and carried on with the work.

This idiom comes from the above story. It is used to satirize those who think they are smart but only deceive themselves.
(Thành ngữ này xuất phát từ câu chuyện ở trên. Nó được dùng để mỉa mai những kể nghĩ mình thông minh nhưng đó chỉ là việc tự dối mình mà thôi)

84. LOWERING THE BANNERS AND SILENCING THE DRUMS
Cờ yên trống lặng

In the Three-kingdom Period, during a battle between Cao Cao and Liu Bei, the latter ordered his generals Zhao Yun and Huang Zhong to capture Cao Cao’s supplies. Cao Cao led a large force against Zhao Yun, who retreated as far as the gates of his camp. There, he ordered that the banners were lowered, the war drums were silenced and the camp gates were left wide open. Zhao Yun then stationed his troops in a near ambush. When Cao Cao arrived and saw the situation, he immediately suspected a trap and withdrew his forces.

This idiom is nowadays used to indicate metaphorically halting an attack or ceasing all activities.
(Thành ngữ này ngày nay được dùng để hàm chỉ việc hoãn một cuộc công kích hoặc dừng các hoạt động)

85. LORD YE LOVES DRAGONS
Diệp công hiếu long

In ancient times, there was a man called Ye Gong who was very fond of dragons. In his home, everything, including the walls, windows, doors and even articles of daily use, were decorated with dragon designs. A real dragon was quite impressed when it heard about this, so it went to visit Ye Gong. However, when it stuck its head through the window Ye Gon was frightened and ran away.

This idiom satirizes those who profess to like or support something, but are averse to it in actual practice.
(Thành ngữ này châm biếm những kẻ tự cho là thích hoặc ủng hộ điều gì đó nhưng thực tế họ không thích hoặc ủng hộ điều đó)

86. THE CONCEITED KING OF YELANG
Tự cao tự đại

In the Han Dynasty, there was a tiny country called Yelang on the southwestern border. Even though it was small, its ruler was quite proud of his country, thinking it big and powerful. Once a Han envoy visited Yelang, the ruler asked him: “Which is bigger, Han or Yelang?”

Later this idiom came to be used to refer to those who are capable of nothing yet are full of conceit.
(Về sau thành ngữ này được dùng để đề cập đến những kẻ chưa làm nên trò trống (tích sự) gì mà tự phụ)

87. ROUSING THE SPIRITS WITH THE FIRST DRUM ROLL
Nhất cổ tác khí

During the Spring and Autumn Period, an army from the State of Qi confronted one from the State of Lu. After the first roll of drums from the Qi side to summon Lu to battle, the Lu ruler wanted to attack. However, his counsellor Cao Gui said, “We should wait until the third drum roll, Sir.” After the Qi side had beaten the drums three times, the Lu army attacked and defeated the Qi army. After the battle, the king asked Cao Gui about the reason for his odd advice. Cao Gui answered, “Fighting needs spirit. Their spirit was aroused by the first roll of the drums, but was depleted by the second. In addition, it was completely exhausted by the third. We started to attack when their spirit was exhausted. That’s why we won.”

Later, this idiom means to get something done with one’s sustained effort.
(Thành ngữ này về sau chỉ việc làm việc gì thành công nhờ nỗ lực đến cùng)

88. KILLING TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE
Nhất tiễn song điêu (Một tên trúng hai con nhạn/Một công đôi việc)

In the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589) there was an expert archer named Zhangsun Cheng. One day he went hunting together with a friend. Suddenly they saw two vultures fighting for a piece of meat high in the air. His friend handed him two arrows, and said, “Can you shoot down both vultures?” Zhangsun Cheng effortlessly killed both vultures with only one arrow.

This idiom indicates achieving two things with one stroke.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ việc đạt hai thành tựu với một hành động hiệu quả duy nhất)

89. AMAZING THE WORLD WITH SINGLE FEAT
Nhất minh kinh tâm

In the Warring States Period, Duke Wei of Qi neglected state affairs, for the first three years of his reign, giving himself over to dissipation. One of his ministers, Chun Yukun who had a good sense of humour, said to him: “There is a big bird which has neither taken wing nor sung for three years.” The duke answered, “Once that bird starts to fly and sing, it will astonish the world.” The duke there upon devoted himself to his duties and built his state up into a powerful one.

This idiom is used to indicate that a person may rise from obscurity and achieve greatness.
(Thành ngữ này ngụ chỉ rằng người ta có thể ngoi lên từ tối tăm và đạt thành tựu lớn lao)

90. JACKALS OF THE SAME LAIR
Cùng một giuộc – Nòi nào giống ấy

In the Han Dynasty, there was an official called Yang Yun who was both capable and honest. Commenting on the assassination of a king of a small state, he said, “If a king refuses to follow the advice of a wise minister, he will suffer an untimely death. The emperor of the Qin Dynasty trusted treacherous ministers, and therefore lost his state.” He compared kings and emperors to racoons living on the same mountain.

This idiom refers derogatorily to people who are of the same kind.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ trích những người cùng loại người)

86. THE CONCEITED KING OF YELANG
Tự cao tự đại

In the Han Dynasty, there was a tiny country called Yelang on the southwestern border. Even though it was small, its ruler was quite proud of his country, thinking it big and powerful. Once a Han envoy visited Yelang, the ruler asked him: “Which is bigger, Han or Yelang?”

Later this idiom came to be used to refer to those who are capable of nothing yet are full of conceit.
(Về sau thành ngữ này được dùng để đề cập đến những kẻ chưa làm nên trò trống (tích sự) gì mà tự phụ)

87. ROUSING THE SPIRITS WITH THE FIRST DRUM ROLL
Nhất cổ tác khí

During the Spring and Autumn Period, an army from the State of Qi confronted one from the State of Lu. After the first roll of drums from the Qi side to summon Lu to battle, the Lu ruler wanted to attack. However, his counsellor Cao Gui said, “We should wait until the third drum roll, Sir.” After the Qi side had beaten the drums three times, the Lu army attacked and defeated the Qi army. After the battle, the king asked Cao Gui about the reason for his odd advice. Cao Gui answered, “Fighting needs spirit. Their spirit was aroused by the first roll of the drums, but was depleted by the second. In addition, it was completely exhausted by the third. We started to attack when their spirit was exhausted. That’s why we won.”

Later, this idiom means to get something done with one’s sustained effort.
(Thành ngữ này về sau chỉ việc làm việc gì thành công nhờ nỗ lực đến cùng)

88. KILLING TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE
Nhất tiễn song điêu (Một tên trúng hai con nhạn/Một công đôi việc)

In the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589) there was an expert archer named Zhangsun Cheng. One day he went hunting together with a friend. Suddenly they saw two vultures fighting for a piece of meat high in the air. His friend handed him two arrows, and said, “Can you shoot down both vultures?” Zhangsun Cheng effortlessly killed both vultures with only one arrow.

This idiom indicates achieving two things with one stroke.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ việc đạt hai thành tựu với một hành động hiệu quả duy nhất)

89. AMAZING THE WORLD WITH SINGLE FEAT
Nhất minh kinh tâm

In the Warring States Period, Duke Wei of Qi neglected state affairs, for the first three years of his reign, giving himself over to dissipation. One of his ministers, Chun Yukun who had a good sense of humour, said to him: “There is a big bird which has neither taken wing nor sung for three years.” The duke answered, “Once that bird starts to fly and sing, it will astonish the world.” The duke there upon devoted himself to his duties and built his state up into a powerful one.

This idiom is used to indicate that a person may rise from obscurity and achieve greatness.
(Thành ngữ này ngụ chỉ rằng người ta có thể ngoi lên từ tối tăm và đạt thành tựu lớn lao)

90. JACKALS OF THE SAME LAIR
Cùng một giuộc – Nòi nào giống ấy

In the Han Dynasty, there was an official called Yang Yun who was both capable and honest. Commenting on the assassination of a king of a small state, he said, “If a king refuses to follow the advice of a wise minister, he will suffer an untimely death. The emperor of the Qin Dynasty trusted treacherous ministers, and therefore lost his state.” He compared kings and emperors to racoons living on the same mountain.

This idiom refers derogatorily to people who are of the same kind.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ trích những người cùng loại)

91. THE FOOLISH OLD MAN WHO REMOVED THE MOUNTAINS
Ngu Công di sơn (Ngu Công dời núi)

In ancient times, there was an old man in front of whose house were two high mountains, making it very inconvenient for him to come and go. He gathered his family and started to level the mountains. His neighbour scoffed, “You are foolish. You are too old and weak to level a small hill, let alone two big mountains.” However, the old man said, “I have sons, and my sons have sons. I will have endless progeny, but the mountains won’t grow any higher.” The spirit of the “Foolish Old Man” moved to Heaven, and it sent two immortals to move the mountains away.

This idiom describes an indomitable will.
(Thành ngữ này thể hiện một ý chí bất khuất)

92. PASSING OFF FISH EYES AS PEARLS
Thật giả lẫn lộn

In the Han Dynasty, there was a Taoist called Wei Boyang, who wrote a book on the making of pills of immortality. In this book, there is the following line: “Fish eyes can’t be passed off as pearls, and bitter flea-bane can’t pretend to be tea.” Fish eyes look like pearls, but are valueless.

This idiom is used to mean passing off the sham as the genuine.
(Thành ngữ này được dùng chỉ việc dùng cái giả đánh lạc sực chú ý đến cái thật)

93. THE TUNE LINGERS IN THE HOUSE
Dư âm còn mãi

In the Warring States Period, there was a girl in the State of Han called Han E, who sang beautifully. Once she was passing through the State of Qi she had to sing to earn money to buy foods. When she left Qi, the echoes of her songs clung to the beams of the houses there for three days before people realized that she had left.

This idiom is used to describe unforgettably beautiful singing.
(Thành ngữ này được dùng miêu tả tiếng hát hay khó quên)

94. BORROWING THE SKIN FROM TIGER
Mượn da hùm

In ancient times, there was a man who was very fond of fur clothes and fine foods. He asked a fox to give him its pelt, but the fox ran away. He then asked a sheep for its meat, but the sheep ran away, too.

与 狐 谋 皮, later known as 与 虎 谋 皮, means that it is impossible to discuss with the vicious about getting profits from them.
(Không thể nào thương thảo với thú hoang để lấy lợi ích từ chúng)

95. SNIPE AND CLAM LOCKED IN COMBAT
Ngư ông đắc lợi

One day a clam opened its shell to sunbathe on a beach. Suddenly a snipe stuck its beak in the clam. The latter closed its shell immediately, and trapped the snipe’s beak. The clam refused to open its shell, and the snipe refused to remove its beak. None of them would concede defeat. Finally, a fisherman came along and caught both of them.

This idiom means that if two sides contend, a third party would benefit from the battle.
(Thành ngữ này chỉ rằng nếu cả hai bên gây chiến với nhau thì bên thứ ba sẽ thu lợi từ cuộc chiến ấy)

96. THREE IN THE MORNING AND FOUR IN THE EVENING
Sớm ba chiều bốn

In the Spring and Autumn Period, a man in the State of Song raised monkeys. The monkeys could understand what he said. As the man became poor, he wanted to reduce the monkey’s foods. He first suggested that he give them four acorns in the morning and three acorns in the evening. Thereupon, the monkeys protested angrily. Then their owner said, “How about three in the morning and four in the evening?” The monkeys were satisfied with that.

This idiom originally meant to fool others with tricks. Later, it is used to mean to keep changing one’s mind.
(Trước đây, hành ngữ này chỉ giở trò lừa người khác. Về sau, nó dùng chỉ việc không ngừng thay đổi ý kiến (ý định))

97. STEPPING HIGH AND HAUGHTILY
Bước đi ngạo mạn

In the Spring and Autumn Period, the State of Chu sent troops to attack the State of Luo. An offical called Dou Bobi went to see the troops off. When he came back, he said to someone secretly: “The general walked in an arrogant way, stepping high. I’m afraid he will be defeated.” Sure enough, the Chu troops were badly defeated, and the general committed suicide.

This idiom is used to describe being arrogant and putting on airs.
(Thành ngữ này dùng để chỉ việc kiêu ngạo và giả vờ là mạnh hơn)

98. CALLING STAG HORSE
Nhìn hươu bảo ngựa

In the Qin of Dynasty, Prime Minister Zhao Gao plotted to usurp the throne. Fearing that the other ministers would oppose that, he thought of a way of testing them. He presented a deer to the emperor, and said, “This is a horse.” The emperor laughed, and said, “You must be joking; this is a deer.” Then Zhao Gao asked the ministers present. Some kept silent, some said that it was a deer, and others agreed that it was a horse. Later Zhao Gao had all ministers who had not said that it was a horse killed.

This metaphor describes distorting facts by calling white black.
(Ẩn dụ này chỉ việc bóp méo sự thật bằng các đảo lộn trắng đen)

99. DISCUSSING STRATEGEMS ON PAPER
Đánh trận trên giấy

In the Warring States Period, the State of Zhao had a famous general called Zhao She, whose son, Zhao Kuo, was very fond of reading books on military science and discussing strategy. He could recite military texts by heart, and when discussing warfare he spoke so clearly and logically that it scemed that even his father was not his match. When the State of Qin attacked the State of Zhao, the ruler of Zhao ordered Zhao Kuo to lead 400,000 men to resist the attack. Nevertheless, since Zhao Kuo had no practical experience of battles, he was defeated and lost his life.

Later, people use this idiom to describe those who are good only at theorizing and lack practical experience.
(Về sau người ta dùng thành ngữ này để chỉ những kẻ chỉ giỏi lý thuyết và thiêu kinh nghiệm thực tiễn)

100. CONTRADICTING ONESELF
Mâu thuẫn

In ancient times, there was a man who sold spears and shields. He used to boats, “My spears are sharpest things in the world. They can penetrate anything.” A moment later he would boast, “My shields are the toughest things in the world. Nothing can penetrate them.” One day, a passer-by asked him: “What would happen if you threw one of your spears at one of your shields?”

This idiom, “contradicting oneself”, and the noun 矛 盾, contradiction, all came from the above story.
(Thành ngữ được đút rút từ câu chuyện này)

I’ve completed my entire contribution. Thanks for viewing!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

One response to “Sự tích 100 thành ngữ Hán ngữ (đã được dịch sang Anh ngữ và Việt ngữ)

  1. the eastern, căn hộ the eastern, căn hộ quận 9, căn hộ cao cấp quận 9

    January 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm

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