Idioms and Anecdotes
中文成语 英文习语

说曹操,曹操到

As if on cue

说曹操曹操到形容对方出其不意的出现在说话者面前,常常给人惊喜。典故由来自《三国演义》。
The English equivalent of this Chinese saying is "as if on cue", which means who appears at exactly the moment you mention him or her.

易如反掌

Easy as Pie

拼音为yìrúfǎnzhǎng。意思是像翻转手掌一样;比喻做事很容易。表达类似意思还可以用“轻而易举”。语出汉朝枚乘《上书谏吴王》:“必若所欲为,危于累卵,难于上天;变所欲为,易如反掌,安于泰山。”

英语中如下表达与之对应:"easy as pie", "be a snap", "a cinch", 或"a doddle".

This idiom literally means as easy as turning one's palm. It appeared in a writing in Han Dynasty, in which the author expostulated with the duke of Wu region when the latter conspired against the state. The main idea is that the conspiration was too dangerous and would most likely lead to his failure, while he could change his mind easily to avoid the trouble.

Similar expression in English can be "easy as pie", "be a snap", "a cinch", or "a doddle".

一诺千金

Golden Promoise

秦朝末年,在楚地有一个叫季布的人,性情耿直,为人侠义好助。只要是他答应过的事情,无论有多大困难,都设法办到。
At the end of Qing Dynasty, Ji bu was born in eastern China. He became a master of martial arts who valued trustworthiness. He was famous for his keeping promise despite of any difficulty.

楚汉相争时,季布是项羽的部下,曾几次献策,使刘邦的军队吃了败仗。刘邦当了皇帝后,想起这事,就气恨不已,下令通缉季布。
Ji joined the army frighting against the rule of Emperor Qin, and fought against Liu Bang during the following civil war after the collapse of the Qin regime. When Liu Bang finally secured the throne, he was wanted.

这时敬慕季布的人,都在暗中帮助他。不久,季布经过化装后到山东一家姓朱的人家当佣工。朱家明知他是季布,仍收留了他,后来,朱家又到洛阳去找刘邦的老朋友汝阴候夏候婴说情。刘邦在夏候婴的劝说下撤消了对季布的通缉令,还封季布做了郎中,不久又改做河东太守。从那时起‘得黄金千两,不如得季布一诺’的说法流传开来。
Fortunately Ji was helped by many people who admired his personality. Some people even succeeded in persuading the emperor to stop the persecution of such a respectful person. Finally Ji was exempted from the wanted list and even appointed by a chief officer of the imperial bodyguards. The saying that one's promise is worth more than a thousand pieces of gold is thought to have originated from this story.

汉语中与诚实守信相关的表述还有恪守诺言、言而有信、童叟无欺等;英语中类似表达有:a man of his words, one's word is as good as one's bond, as good as one's word, live up to a promise, fair and square.

dining al fresco

露天餐饮

新冠爆发给餐饮业带来不少麻烦,而露天餐饮通风良好,成为不少食客的新宠。Livemin.com就登出了一张纽约食客在新冠后户外就餐的图片,标题如下: People enjoy al fresco dining at a bar following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, New York, U.S., July 5, 2020. see origin

Jerry-built properties

豆腐渣工程

If someone is constructing a bridge or a building cheaply and unsubstantially, or some one offers you a product or solution carelessly in a haste, you call him a Jerry-builder. Possibly the name may be connected with Jericho, the walls of which collapsed at the sound of a trumpet.

However, an alternative origin is equally convincing: Jerry-builders involves in a corruption of "jury" as used in "jury mast" and "jury rigging", the temporary or makeshift replacements in an emergency. A jury mast is a temporary mast erected to replace one that has been carried away. Similarly JURY RUDDER, JURY RIG, etc., and humorously JURY LEG for a wooden leg. The etymology of JURY here is a matter of surmise.

Similar expressions in Chinese are 豆腐渣工程, 偷工减料,挂羊头卖狗肉,偷梁换柱,以次充好。

坚若磐石

Rock Solid

拼音 [ jiān rú pán shí ]
语出南朝梁·萧统《文选·古诗十九首》:“良无磐石固,虚名复何有?” 意思是“贤良的品德没有磐石那样坚固,光要虚名又有什么益处呢!”常用于比喻信念坚定、不可动摇。无独有偶,英文中的rock solid是这个成语的绝佳匹配。比如:
Wearing a mask, washing/sanitizing hands, and maintaining distance greatly reduce spread of the virus. Wearing a light mask does not protect the one with the mask; it protects others from the one with the mask. There is no “two sides” or “opinions differ” to this. Apart from occasional kooks, the consensus among scientists is rock solid.