The key to memorize Chinese idioms - good understanding of the analogy

Chinese idioms are full of analogies. If you are struggling with memorizing them, why not slow down first and see if there's any analogy in the idiom. Just like in English and any other languages, using analogy can help people to vividly picture the concept in their mind without too much explanation.

 

Today I'll use an example to show you how to build the connection in your mind through the analogy in the idiom to enforce your memory on Chinese idioms.

 

We all know a snake (蛇) in the grass (草) is a hiding danger. If we spot one and want to have a closer look (a brave soul you have), we need to be very still. Any slight disturbance to the grass could scare the snake away or startle it to bite you (Ouch!).


Now, let's describe in Chinese what gonna happen if a naughty boy jumps out from nowhere and smacks the grass with a stick...

Hit the grass -
 打草.
See the "hand radical" in
 and "grass radical" in草? Startle the snake -
 惊蛇. Notice the "heart radical" in
  and "bug radical" in
 ? OK, here you go, if you hit the grass, the snake will be startled, which you don't want to see. And this is how we got Chinese idiom - 
打草惊蛇 (dǎ cǎo jīng shé)
 created.

 

Basically, it means "premature actions that put enemy on guard."

 

You can read and listen to example sentences that are using this idiom in the following link:

 
Chinese idiom 打草惊蛇

(photo credit
 benet2006)

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