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Food Metaphors and Idioms in Chinese, part 2

February 20, 2011

This is a continuation of a previous post on Chinese food metaphors and idioms.

I continued to think of food metaphors and idioms after me previous post, so I wanted to add a few more that I find amusing.

  1. 炒鱿鱼. Literally translates to frying squid. This metaphor, however, describes either the action of firing someone or the passive, being fired. My tutor told me that this metaphor came to refer to being fired because a squid becomes shriveled up when it is fried, thus is loses face. My Chinese-Chinese dictionary states that the shape of a fried squid resembles rolled-up bedclothes, and that when you are fired you want to roll up your things and go home.
  2. (一个人的)豆腐. Literally, to eat someone’s tofu. This phrase is used to describe flirting with someone.*
  3. 香蕉. This word literally means a banana. However, it is often used to refer to Chinese that have grown up in a Western country. The Chinese, thus, consider them yellow on the outside (in their appearance), and white on the inside (in their culture), thus a banana.

*Thanks to Liz, for reminding me of this one.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. frances permalink
    February 20, 2011 22:51

    吃软饭 is also a good one. it means to live off a woman [‘s salary]

  2. Tim Quijano permalink*
    February 24, 2011 00:21

    oh that’s nice

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