Home / Learning Chinese / Idioms Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Idioms Lesson 42
Adjust font size:

Hesitate to pelt a rat for fear of smashing the dishes (beside it)

There is a story in "Book of Han" about a rich man who was a lover of antiques. Among his large collection was a rare vase made of jade. The vase was of exquisite workmanship and of historical value. He loved it dearly.

One night, he noticed a mouse jumped into the vase and was trying to eat some food which the man had carelessly left there. The sight infuriated the man. In a fit of rage, he threw a stone at the mouse. For sure, the mouse was killed, but the precious vase was also broken.

The loss of the vase pained the man greatly. He deeply regretted his own thoughtlessness had brought such unrecoverable loss. He now realized that anyone who only cares for the present and overlooks consequences is apt to bring disasters upon himself. So he sounded a warning: People should not ruin their precious things to get rid of a mouse, but hesitate to pelt a rat for fear of smashing the dishes beside it.

Now, the idiom "tóu shǔ jì qì" is mainly used to refer to people who are cautious in taking action.

tóu shǔ jì qì





yǐn láng rù shì
bring the wolf into the house – open the door to a dangerous foe

yī pín rú xǐ
penniless; in utter destitution; as poor as a church mouse

kǔ jìn gān lái
when bitterness ends, sweetness begins; after suffering comes happiness; sweet after sweat

gǔ shòu rú chái
thin as a lath; worn to a shadow; mere skeleton; bag or pack of bones

tiāo féi jiǎn shòu
pick the fat or choose the lean – choose whichever is to one’s personal advantage; be choosy

shǒu wǔ zú dǎo
dance for joy

View all lessons >> 

Tools: Save | Print | E-mail | Most Read
Copyright © China.org.cn. All Rights Reserved
E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-88828000 京ICP证 040089号