Chinese idiom of the day: 口蜜腹剑 – honey-mouthed and dagger-hearted

New blog series! For Christmas I got the excellent book ”A Chinese-English Dictionary of Chinese Idioms” by Pan Weigui, a recommended read even if you don’t study Chinese. The book covers 2 327 common Chinese idioms and phrases, and all text is written both in Chinese and English, including literary, metaphorical and word-by-word translations of all. So I decided to use it as a new blog series, presenting a new idiom from the book once in a while. Here comes number one!

Much like English terms like ”silver-tongued”, Chinese also have some really cool metaphorical terms. My new favourite, which is hard not to use in English as well, is 口蜜腹剑  (kǒumì-fùjiàn). The phrase basically means ”honey-mouthed and dagger-hearted”, which I guess  spells its intention out clearly. It’s used to refer to a sinister and cunning person, a deceiving mastermind. As clear in its literary transaltion, the person in question has a smooth tongue yet has some dark intentions beyond his or her elegant speech.

The phrase is used as a noun describing a person, for example: ”你是一个的口蜜腹剑的人!” means ”you are a famous 口蜜腹剑!”, or in an English sentence something along the lines of ”you are a deceptive person!”

So next time you come across some deceptive jerk, go with ”you’re honey-mouthed and dagger-hearted”. And if you don’t want him or her to know what you think of him or her, go with ”你是一个的口蜜腹剑的人”!

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