Chinese proverbs lacking effort and drive

Proverbs aimed at encouraging people to snap out of idleness and laziness.

Cū zhī [cu zhi da ye]
thick branch big leaf
A large branch with large leaves. Unable to draw in fine detail
Lack of attention to detail
Mon 2nd Oct

National celebration - Golden Week

The second largest get away in China after the Spring Festival (Chinese New Year) is underway. 1st October marks the foundation of Peoples Republic in 1949. However things have shifted over the years. Gone are the vast military parades in Tiananmen Square and the longer 'national' festivals. As well as Mao Zedong it is perhaps surprising that Sun Yatsen is also honored in the official government parades - his picture is carried to reflect his place as founding father of the then Republic of China. This year the traditional festival of Moon or Mid-Autumn Festival falls on October 4th so the two disparate celebrations have been merged to give a whole week off work for many people. Over recent years the traditional festivals have come back into popularity and the high calorie moon cakes will be eaten by the million.


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Jīn shì, jīn [jin ri shi, jin ri bi]
this day task, this day complete
Today's task, today's job to complete
Finish the current job before doing anything new
Don't put off until tomorrow what can be done today
Nì lái shùn shòu [ni lai shun shou]
disobey arrive obey receive
Do not block but welcome arrival
Deal with things as they happen; do not put them off
补牢
Wáng yáng bǔ láo [wang yang bu lao]
lose sheep mend pen
Mend the pen after the sheep are lost
Can mean taking action too late or to protect against a future repeat of misfortune
Mend the stable door after the horse has bolted
shí bù xiào bǎi [wu shi bu xiao yi bai bu]
50 pace smile 100 pace
Fifty steps laugh at a hundred steps
Being complacent about the future. Believing a job done when only half done.
Pride cometh before a fall
旁观
Xiù shǒu páng guān [xiu shou pang guan]
sleeve hand side observe
To look on with folded arms
To look on without offering any help or showing concern
悬崖勒
Xuán yá lè mǎ [xuan ya le ma]
precipice rein in horse
Rein in the horse at the cliff edge
Realize danger at the last moment
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Yě yaò mǎ ér haǒ, yě yaò mǎ ér bù chī caǒ [ye yao ma er hao, ye yao ma er bu chi cao]
also want horse good, also want horse not eat grass
Want the horse to prosper, but not want the horse to eat grass
To prosper you must make compromises, you can not have it all your own way
You can't have your cake and eat it
bù dēng tiān [yi bu deng tian]
one stride reach heaven
Approach heaven with a single stride
An attempt to achieve a goal all in one go without hard work
Rome was not built in a day
Yuǎn shuǐ jiǔ bù liaǒ huǒ [yuan shui jiu bu liao huo]
far water rescued not near fire
Distant water will not extinguish the nearby fire
There is no point in waiting for far off help. Get to it and solve the problem now
Zhì bù kě màn shí bù kě shī [zhi bu ke man shi bu ke shi]
aspiration not can slow, time not can lose
Do not let your aspirations weaken; do not waste time
Keep hold of your hopes and dreams, waste no time in achieving them
Don't change horses in midstream

Flowers and fruit

Flowers and fruit are used in Chinese art to give a symbolic meaning. Quite often this is the obvious one of grace and beauty as with orchids, plums, azaleas and magnolias. In other cases the symbolism comes from words that sound the same in Chinese, so maple means 'appointment'; orange 'good wishes'; cinnamon 'valuable' and jujube 'early'. Some have a sexual connotation so have to be used with care if used as a gift.
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Zǒu mǎ kàn huā [zou ma kan hua]
walk horse look flower
Looking at the flowers while riding a horse
To take a cursory look at something. Smug
China motif
Our proverbs come with lots of information. The modern Chinese characters are followed by the proverb in pinyin. Next, there is a crude character by character transliteration into English, followed by a more accurate English translation. If this is a Chinese proverb alluding to history the meaning may still not be clear in English, so the general meaning follows. Finally some proverbs have fairly direct English equivalents, if so the English proverb is included at the end.

Our translations need improving, so please let us know if you can help.
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Citation information: Chinasage, 'Chinese Proverbs about idleness and laziness', last updated 3 Dec 2016, Web, http://www.chinasage.info/proverblazy.htm.

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