Popular Chinese Phrases Based on the Chinese Character for Tiger: 虎

There are many popular Chinese phrases that are based on the Chinese character for tiger, 虎 (pronounced hǔ). (Image:  Reurinkjan  via   wikimedia  /
There are many popular Chinese phrases that are based on the Chinese character for tiger, 虎 (pronounced hǔ). (Image: Reurinkjan via wikimedia / CC BY 2.0 )

There are many popular Chinese phrases that are based on the Chinese character for tiger, 虎 (pronounced hǔ). This is a popular symbol among non-Chinese because of the strength of the animal it represents, as well as the beauty of the Chinese character itself.

 

chinese phrases

The Chinese character for tiger, 虎, is pronounced hǔ. (Image: China Gaze)

In most cultures, the tiger is a fascinating creature. In Chinese culture, there are many popular stories and sayings about the tiger. Here are just a few:

The smiling tiger

If a person is being described as a smiling tiger, it is believed that he or she is cunning and sly, and that one should be wary of what they may do.

They may also be described as a “smiling tiger” 笑面虎 (pinyin pronunciation: xiào miàn hǔ), which means they may have a nice appearance and always put on a smiling face, but you can never be sure of their intentions, and they could strike you at any moment.

Tiger and snake

If someone is described as “tiger head and snake tail” 虎頭蛇尾 (pinyin pronunciation: hǔ tóu shé wěi) in Chinese, it means that they are not consistent in doing their work. A “tiger head and snake tail” worker promises to do something, then starts the work, but leaves it incomplete, without finishing what they started.

Entering the tiger’s cave

There is another famous Chinese saying: “If you don’t enter a tiger’s cave, how can you catch a tiger?” 不入虎穴焉得虎子 (pinyin pronunciation: bù rù hǔ xué yān de hǔ zi). The saying has the meaning of needing to face one’s fear in order to achieve something, and not to have the expectation of gaining something without effort.

Chinese zodiac sign — Tiger

According to the Chinese zodiac, tigers are dignified in character and appearance, and naturally command authority. Having traits of a Tiger and Rabbit is a good balance because the tiger represents bravery, while the rabbit represents caution, leading to one being courageous and wise.

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