essential-chengyu-call

Essential Chengyu: Call someone out with this – 强词夺理

One of the hardest things to do in Chinese is to argue and debate. If you’re arguing with someone and you want to call them out for not making any sense, try this one: 强词夺理 (qiǎng cí duó lǐ).

强词夺理 (qiǎng cí duó lǐ) means that the person is using weak arguments and arguing illogically. Literally, it means that the person is “forcing words and seizing logic.”
 


 

Learn a foreign language with videos

Essential Chengyu: Call someone out with this – 强词夺理

A breakdown of the characters in 强词夺理 (qiǎng cí duó lǐ):

强 (qiǎng): to force (eg. 勉强 – miǎn qiǎng – to force something)

词 (cí): words (eg. 生词 – shēng cí – new vocab words)

夺 (duó): to seize (eg. 夺取 – duóqǔ – to seize)

理 (lǐ): reason or rationality (eg. 理性 – lǐ xìng – reason or rationality)

You may recall that this is similar to 牵强 (qiān qiǎng), which we covered before. 牵强 is more diplomatic than 强词夺理 for two reasons. First, 牵强 suggests that what the person is saying is a stretch but not totally irrational. Second, 牵强 does not imply that the person is trying to be wrong on purpose. In the case of 强词夺理, the logic is so wrong that the person is probably aware of it.

In the wrong situation 强词夺理 could be interpreted as fighting words. It’s probably best to use it in a lighthearted manner that makes it obvious that you’re joking. :)

Observing 强词夺理 in the wild reveals 4 common usages.

Usage 1) As a verb (Noun + 强词夺理)

Example 1A)

被抓住了不承认错误,还满嘴强词夺理 

“bèi zhuāzhù le bù chéngrèn cuòwù, hái mǎnzuǐ qiǎngcíduólǐ

“(They’ve) gotten caught and are not only not admitting their mistakes, but saying lots of things that defy logic”

Example 1B)

奔驰汽车是强词夺理,利用汽车专业知识糊弄消费者

“bēnchí qìchē shì qiǎngcíduólǐ, lìyòng qìchē zhuānyè zhīshì hùnòng xiāofèizhě ”

“Mercedez-Benz is arguing irrationally, using its expert automotive knowledge to fool consumers”

Usage 2) As an adjective (强词夺理 + 的 + Noun)

Example 2A)

死抱着错误不放还要强词夺理的人…”

“sǐ bào zhe cuòwù búfàng háiyào qiǎngcíduólǐ de rén…”

“People who die holding onto their mistakes and arguing irrationally…”

Example 2B)

我却觉得这个广告是一个强词夺理自以为是广告的典型代表

“wǒ què juéde zhè gè guǎnggào shì yī gè qiǎngcíduólǐ zìyǐwéishì guǎnggào de diǎnxíng dàibiǎo”

“I think this ad is a classic example of irrational and arrogant ads”

Usage 3) As an adverb (强词夺理 + 地 + Verb)

Example 3A)

老公反而很乐意,还强词夺理地说,只要生完孩子后,老公就和闺蜜断绝关系

“lǎogōng fǎnér hěn lèyì, hái qiǎngcíduólǐ de shuō, zhǐyào shēng wán háizi hòu, lǎogōng jiù hé guīmì duànjué guānxì”

“(My) husband was actually happy, and said without making much sense that, right after the child was born, he’d break off his relationship with his girlfriend.”

Usage 4) As a noun (referring to 强词夺理 as an action or behavior)

Example 4A)

强词夺理’必定会成为公众们对这种思维攻击的利器

“‘qiǎngcíduólǐ ’bìdìng huì chéngwéi gōngzhòngmen duì zhèzhǒng sīwéi gōngjī de lìqì”

“Distorting logic will inevitably become the public’s weapon for attacking this way of thinking”

Questions? Comments? Other words you’d like us to cover? Let us know!

If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.

Experience Chinese immersion online!

Comments are closed.