口若悬河 (kǒuruòxuánhé) is among the more poetic idioms of Chinese, literally meaning something like ”to let a waterfall flow out of one’s mouth”. As with English (and many other languages), the Chinese often use liquids as metaphors for language – the Chinese translation of ”fluent” language is ”流利”, which is directly translated to ”flowing”. Similarly, as words can flow in English when they come quickly yet cleanly (not rambling), to let out a waterfall from your mouth in Chinese is to speak eloquently, with basically the same meaning as the English ”to have a silver tongue”.
This is part four of my series on Chinese idioms, read more here or check out all previous idioms here.
If you enjoy the idioms and want to read more, please go buy Pan Weigui’s book, it’s fairly cheap and definitely worth it.
Chinese idiom of the day: 口若悬河 by Anton Nordenfur is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.