Chengyu or 成语 (Chéng Yǔ) are a type of Chinese idiom or saying in the Chinese language and are usually made up of four characters. Besides 成语, other Chinese idioms also exist but are less popular.
成语 are a fun way to learn the Chinese language because they often have an interesting story behind them although some are simply catchy phrases that were passed down from ages ago. 成语 can also come from historical texts, literature, mythological stories, or moral fables.
We will be updating this list frequently and idioms without a link don’t have a page yet but we’re working on it!
4 Character Chengyu
Click on the links below to see the intonated Pinyin, examples, and detailed explanations for each 4-character idiom.
- Shou Zhu Dai Tu – 守株待兔 means to wait idly for a reward (instead of working hard)
- Tang Bi Dang Che – 螳臂挡车 means to go against something that is beyond one’s ability (and will likely result in failure)
- Du Yi Wu Er – 独一无二 means one of a kind
- Ban Men Nong Fu – 班门弄斧 means to flaunt one’s amateurish skills in front of an expert
- Po Fu Chen Zhou – 破釜沉舟 means to leave no way to retreat
- Bu Huai Hao Yi – 不怀好意 means not having good intentions
- Jing Di Zhi Wa – 井底之蛙 means a frog in a well (used to describe ignorance)
- Dui Niu Tan Qin – 对牛弹琴 means to play a zither to a cow
- Ban Tu Er Fei – 半途而废
- Xuan Ya Le Ma – 悬崖勒马
- Hu Jia Hu Wei – 狐假虎威
- Sai Weng Shi Ma – 塞翁失马
- Ma Ma Hu Hu – 马马虎虎