chinese-idiom-tired-of-tired-try-this-instead

Tired of 累? Try this instead

If you’re tired of the word “tired” (累 – leì), it’s your lucky day.

We’ve got a chengyu (Chinese idiom) that’s much cooler: 有气无力(yǒu qì wú lì).

有气无力 (yǒu qì wú lì) literally means “to have breath but no strength,” and describes someone who is feeling weak and lacking energy.

It’s worth mentioning the differences between 有气无力 (yǒu qì wú lì) and (累 – leì).

  1. 有气无力’s tone is more formal. You can use it for bigger things like countries and markets (see below), unlike 累.
  2. 有气无力 can be used more flexibly. It can be used in the “有气无力 + 地 + Verb” form, unlike 累.

A breakdown of the characters in 有气无力(yǒu qì wú lì):

有 (yǒu): to have

气 (qì): breath (eg. 气息 – qìxī)

无 (wú): to not have

力 (lì): strength (eg. 力气 – lìqì)

Usage 1) As a Verb.

Example 1 A)

经常有气无力,没那么愿意干活了

“jīngcháng yǒuqìwúlì, méi nàme yuànyì gànhuó le”

“(He) often lacks energy, and isn’t willing to work that hard”

Example 1 B)

他说话头也不抬,有气无力,恍若梦游 “

“tā shuōhuà tóu yě bù tái, yǒuqìwúlì, huǎng ruò mèngyóu “

“When he speaks, he doesn’t lift his head and lacks energy – it’s as if he’s sleepwalking”

Usage 2) 有气无力 + 的 + Noun

Example 2 A)

“…一个有气无力的国家 “

“…yī gè yǒuqìwúlì de guójiā “

“…a country that lacks energy

Example 2 B)

有气无力的欧洲债券市场 “

“…yǒuqìwúlì de ōuzhōu zhàiquàn shìchǎng “

“…the listless EU debt market”

Example 2 C)

有气无力的握手给人不安全的感觉,会引起对方强烈的不满 “

yǒuqìwúlì de wòshǒu gěi rén bù ānquán de gǎnjué, huì yǐnqǐ duìfāng qiángliè de bùmǎn “

“A weak, listless handshake will make the other person feel unsafe, and will make the other person feel very unsatisfied.”

Usage 3) 有气无力 + 地 + Verb

Example 3 A)

数月未见,他面容憔悴消瘦,有气无力地对我说。。。 “

“shùyuè wèijiàn, tā miànróng qiáocuì xiāoshòu, yǒuqìwúlì de duì wǒ shuō… “

“I hadn’t seen him in months, and his face looked emaciated. He weakly said to me….”

Example 3 B)

它好像饿了很久,盯着我的口袋,一直有气无力地跟着我 “

“tā hǎoxiàng è le hěn jiǔ, dīng zhe wǒ de kǒudài, yìzhí yǒuqìwúlì de gēn zhe wǒ”

“It seemed to have been hungry for a long time. It kept staring at my pocket and weakly followed me”

Example 3 C)

大哥滔滔不绝地说了半天,小光有气无力地应承着

“dàgē tāotāobùjué de shuō le bàntiān, xiǎoguāng yǒuqìwúlì de yìngchéng zhe”

“Big brother kept on talking forever, and Little Guang weakly agreed”

Usage 4) Verb + 得 + 有气无力

Example 4 A)

“…怪不得戴维-路易斯们踢得有气无力 “

“…guàibùdé dàiwéi -lùyìsī men tī de yǒuqìwúlì “

“…no wonder David Louisman kicked without any energy

Example 4 B)

现在日本经济在失落,首相越换越面生,连报纸都变得有气无力了 “

“xiànzài rìběn jīngjì zài shīluò, shǒuxiàng yuè huàn yuè miànshēng, lián bàozhǐ dōu biàn de yǒuqìwúlì le “

“Right now the Japanese economy is slipping, and each time the Prime Minister is replaced, the more unfamiliar he becomes. Even the newspapers have become listless

Hope you have fun experimenting with this new Chinese idiom! 

Questions? Comments? Other Chinese idioms you’d like to see? Let us know!

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