Ban Men Nong Fu 班门弄斧

班门弄斧 (Bān Mén Nòng Fǔ) is a Chengyu or Chinese idiom which literally means ‘Ban’s door, showoff axe’. The literal translation doesn’t really make any sense if you don’t know the back story but the idiom means to show off one’s axe-wielding skills in front of Lu Ban (鲁班), a skilled craftsman. 班门弄斧 is used to describe someone who shows off his amateurish skills in front of an expert.

Like 螳臂挡车 (Táng Bì Dǎng Chē), the idiom 班门弄斧 can be used with 不自量力 (Bù Zì Liàng Lì) and is usually used in a derogatory manner. However, unlike 螳臂挡车, 班门弄斧 does not convey the idea that the person is likely to fail (or not).

班门弄斧 Ban Men Nong Fu

Original photo credit to Hans Splinter

班门弄斧 can be used on yourself (see examples)

Idiom breakdown

班 here stands for 鲁班, the name of a skilled craftsman
门 means door
弄 here comes from 卖弄 which means to show off or display
斧 means axe

Example sentences

  1. 在你面前这样班门弄斧,真是不好意思。
    Zài nǐ miànqián zhèyàng bānménnòngfǔ, zhēnshi bù hǎoyìsi.
    Showing off in front of you like that, I’m really embarrassed.
    (this is used when the person you’re speaking to is skilled at whatever you are doing)

If you have any questions or if you would like to contribute a translation or additional examples, please feel free to leave a message below. Thank you!

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