essential-chengyu-cute

Essential Chengyu: Another way to say “Cute”

It’s time that you learned another way to say “cute” aside from “可爱 (kě ‘ ài),” which you probably learned in first year Chinese. How about something more nuanced – like “dainty”: 小鸟依人 (xiǎoniǎoyīrén)?

小鸟依人 (xiǎoniǎoyīrén) basically means that someone is small, cute, and delicate. Literally, it brings up the image of a small bird that relies on people. It’s used generally for girls or small children and has a positive tone.


 
A breakdown of the characters in 小鸟依人 (xiǎoniǎoyīrén):

小 (xiǎo): small

鸟 (niǎo): a bird

依 (yī): to depend on (eg. 依赖 – yīlài – to be dependent on)

人 (rén): a person

Observing 小鸟依人 (xiǎoniǎoyīrén) in the wild reveals that it can be used in many ways.

Usage 1) 小鸟依人 + 地 + Verb

Example 1A)

秦岚则小鸟依人地靠在陆川怀里

“qínlán zé xiǎoniǎoyīrén de kào zài lùchuān huáilǐ”

“Qin Lan daintily leaned into Lu Chuan’s embrace”

Example 1B)

无数次分居吵架后,最后还是小鸟依人地回到高峰身边

“wúshù cì fēnjū chǎojià hòu, zuìhòu háishì xiǎoniǎoyīrén de huídào gāofēng shēnbiān”

“After living separately and fighting countless times, (she) ultimately still daintily returned to Gao Feng’s side”

Usage 2) 小鸟依人 + 的 + Noun

Example 2A)

有时我也会靠着他宽阔的肩膀, 小鸟依人的样子

“yǒushí wǒ yě huì kào zhe tā kuānkuò de jiānbǎng, xiǎoniǎoyīrén de yàngzi”

“Sometimes I will also lean on his broad shoulders, in a cute and delicate way”

Example 2B)

小鸟依人的形象,可爱又时尚

xiǎoniǎoyīrén de xíngxiàng, kěài yòu shíshàng”

“A dainty image, both cute and fashionable”

Example 2C)

我老公176公分,在他旁边有种小鸟依人的感觉

“wǒ lǎogōng 176 gōngfēn, zài tā pángbiān yǒu zhǒng xiǎoniǎoyīrén de gǎnjué”

“My husband is 176 cm, (so) at his side (I have) a feeling of being small and dainty

Usage 3) As a Noun

Example 3A)

曾经的小鸟依人,婚后突然变成河东狮吼

“céngjīng de xiǎoniǎoyīrén, hūnhòu túrán biànchéng hédōngshīhǒu”

“Previously a cute and dainty girl, after marriage she became a dominant and demanding woman”

Example 3B)

闲的叫特立独行,弱的叫小鸟依人,不像女人的叫超女

“xián de jiào tèlìdúxínɡ, ruò de jiào xiǎoniǎoyīrén, búxiàng nǚrén de jiào chāonǚ”

“Those who are idle are called maverick, those who are weak are called cute and dainty girls, and those who don’t seem like women are called supergirls”

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

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3 Responses to Essential Chengyu: Another way to say “Cute”

  1. 河西猴咬 October 19, 2011 at 5:10 am #

    Hahah I liked example 3a

    • Alan October 19, 2011 at 9:06 am #

      Thanks a lot! Yes that one made me chuckle, glad you liked it!

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