Do you know what the dragon symbolizes for Chinese people?
The dragon has been a sacred creature since ancient times. It is the king of beasts and represents strength, wisdom, rule, and unlimited potential. Chinese people still consider themselves descendants of the dragon.
How about 7 commonly used Chinese idioms about dragons?
7 Awesome Chinese Idioms with Dragons
1) 龙马精神(lónɡ mǎ jīnɡ shén): To continue to be full of spirit and vigor, despite being older. A 龙马(lónɡ mǎ) is a mythical creature consisting of part-horse and part-dragon, and is considered to be a lucky symbol.
Example 1 A)
“bì jìng shì lóng nián, xī wàng zhōng guó néng gòu lóng mǎ jīng shén, kāi gè hǎo tóu”
“Since it is the Year of the Dragon, (I) hope that China can keep its energy, and start off strong”
Example 1 B)
“lóng nián, xī wàng dà jiā píng zhe lóng mǎ jīng shén, zài lóng nián huò dé gèng duō shōu huò”
“The Year of the Dragon – (I) hope that everyone can keep their spirit and vigor, and have a fruitful Year of the Dragon”
2) 龙争虎斗(lóng zhēng hǔ dòu): literally, “a fight between a dragon and a tiger.” Refers to a struggle between two similarly matched forces. This is also the title of the famous movie starring Bruce Lee, “Enter the Dragon.”
Example 2 A)
“xīn yì nián sōu suǒ shì chǎng bì jiāng yíng lái gèng wéi lóng zhēng hǔ dòu de kāi jú”
“In the new year, the search market will welcome an opening with a fierce struggle between evenly matched competitors“
Example 2 B)
“他将与安东尼-约翰逊(Anthony Johnson)进行一场龙争虎斗 “
“tā jiāng yǔ ān dōng ní – yuē hàn xùn (Anthony Johnson) jìn xíng yī chǎng lóng zhēng hǔ dòu“
“He now begins an intense struggle with Anthony Johnson”
Example 2 C)
“yōu huì dǎ zhé cù xiāo huó dòng kě wèi shì lóng zhēng hǔ dòu“
“Discount sales can be said to be an intense struggle between competitors“
3) 人中之龙 (rén zhōng zhī lóng): “A dragon among men.” Used to describe an exceptional, unmatched talent.
Example 3 A)
“lóng de dì wèi hěn gāo, rén zhōng zhī lóng jiù shì huáng dì “
“The status of the dragon is high – the dragon among men is the emperor”
4) 来龙去脉(lái lóng qù mài): “ins and outs, causes and effects.” Originally referred to a mountain range (山脉 – mountain range) that looked like the body of a dragon. Later came to symbolize a person or event’s history or cause and effect.
Example 4 A)
“wǒ men kě yǐ xiān kàn kàn zhè gè shì jiàn de lái lóng qù mài, zài tīng tīng páng guān zhě de shuō fǎ”
“We can first see the ins and outs of this matter, then hear what witnesses have to say”
Example 4 B)
“wǒ men huì jì xù yǔ jǐng fāng mì qiè hé zuò, chá qīng chu shì qíng de lái lóng qù mài “
“We will continue to work closely with the police, and find out clearly the ins and outs of this matter”
5) 龙飞凤舞 (lóng fēi fèng wǔ): (of calligraphy or handwriting) “flying dragons and dancing phoenixes.” Refers to lively and elegant calligraphy. But these days, it’s also used to satirically say the opposite – that someone’s handwriting is awful.
Example 5 A)
“hè kǎ shàng zhǐ yǒu sì gè lóng fēi fèng wǔ de dà zì xīn nián kuài lè…”
“On the greeting card there were only the 4 big, lively, and elegant characters ‘新年快乐’…”
6) 群龙无首(qún lóng wú shǒu): “A group of dragons, but no leader.” Refers to a group that needs a leader.
Example 6 A)
“zài qún lóng wú shǒu de qíng kuàng xià, gǔ shì zhòng xīn de xià yí yě jiù zài suǒ nán miǎn “
“Without leadership, it’s hard to avoid the core of the stock market descending”
Example 6 B)
“xiàn zài de màn lián gèng yī shì kě wèi shì qún lóng wú shǒu “
“Right now you could say that the Manchester United’s locker room needs a leader“
Example 6 C)
“gòng hé dǎng qún lóng wú shǒu, mín zhǔ dǎng de xiàn rèn zǒng tǒng ào bā mǎ yě wèi jiàn de dàn dìng “
“The GOP needs a leader, and the Democratic Party’s current President Obama does not yet appear to be calm”
7) 望子成龙(wàng zǐ chéng lóng): “to wish your son becomes a dragon.” Refers to parents hoping for their kids to succeed.
Example 7 A)
“xǔ duō jiā zhǎng wàng zǐ chéng lóng, xī wàng tōng guò gè zhǒng fāng shì lái jiào yù hái zi “
“Many parents want their kids to succeed, and hope to educate them in many ways”
Example 7 B)
“…wàng zǐ chéng lóng de fù mǔ men zǎo yǐ pán suàn hǎo, jiāng zì jǐ de hái zi shēng zài zhè yàng yí gè shén qí yòu gāo guì de nián fèn”
“…these parents who wanted their kids to success already calculated long ago, so that they could have their children on this magical and noble year”
As you can see, dragons mean a lot to Chinese people. (For Americans, maybe the closest equivalent is the dog?)
Let us know if you have any comments, questions, or other Chinese idioms you recommend.
And be sure to check out FluentU when you have the time!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Chinese with real-world videos.