Chinese idiom of the day: 爱屋及乌

This is part six of my series on Chinese idioms, read more here or check out all previous idioms here. I assume no previous knowledge in Chinese, and they’re open to anyone interested in language. 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.


It’s been a while, but there are hundreds of more Chinese idioms (成语) to go. I don’t know how many actually read and enjoy these, but at least I learn something writing about them.

Today’s idiom is 爱屋及乌 (àiwū-jíwū), one of my absolute favourites due to its sheer beauty. The characters:

  • 爱 (ài): to love. Probably the most well known character in both Chinese and Japanese (there’s a lot of overlap due to the Chinese influence on Japanese language), and the most overused as a tattoo. To love, as in ”我爱你” (wǒ ài nǐ), ”I love you”.
  • 屋 (wū): house. Can also mean ”room”. Example: ”你的屋在哪儿?” (nǐ de wū zài nǎr?), ”where is your house?”.
  • 及 (jí): to reach. Can also mean ”and” and a lot of other stuff.
  • 乌 (wū): crow. Can also mean ”dark” or the last name Wu. Short for 乌鸦 (wūyā). And yes, it’s the exact same pronounciation as 屋 (house).

As I said it’s one of my favourite Chinese idioms, mixing sheer beauty with the ice cold darkness and pride I feel for an animal like the crow. The translation is ”the love reaches even to the crows on the roof”, often referring to a person you love every single element of.

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