Essential Chengyu: Are you just happy or 兴高采烈?

高兴 (gāoxìng – happy) is a useful word you learned in first year Chinese, but perhaps it’s time that you found synonyms that let you express yourself with more nuance? We have one for you: 兴高采烈 (xìnggāocǎiliè).

The next time you want to describe someone as being more than just happy, you can use 兴高采烈 to put some extra oomph into it. It basically means “elated” or “on top of the world,” but literally means “high excitement due to intense literary talent.” It seems the ancient Chinese really enjoyed reading.

Essential Chengyu: Are you just happy or 兴高采烈?

A breakdown of the characters in 兴高采烈:

兴 (xìng): derived from 兴致 (xìngzhì), meaning interest or zeal (note the similarity to 高兴)

高 (gāo): high

采 (cǎi): derived from 文采 (wéncǎi), meaning literary talent or language

烈 (liè): derived from 激烈, meaning intense

Observing 兴高采烈 in the wild shows that it never appears simply as 我很兴高采烈 or 我兴高采烈. Instead, it is used in 3 main ways:

Usage 1 (most common): ~ +地 + Verb

Example 1A)


“wǒ ~de ná le yàoshi qù kàn xīnfáng zi”

“I elatedly got my key and went to see the new house”

Example 1B)


“dāng yīgè háizi ~de chōng huíjiā gàosu māmā dédào lǎoshī biǎoyáng le。。。”

“When a child joyfully runs back home and tells their mom that they got praised by the teacher…”

Usage 2: Verb + 得 + ~

Example 2A)


“dāngshí tā zhèng shuō de ~。。。”

“At the time he said it elatedly…”

Example 2B)


“liǎng rén jí chǎng qiēcuō qiújì ,dǎ de ~”

“The two tested each other’s skills on the court, and they played joyfully

Usage 3: ~+ 的 + Noun

Example 3A)


“~de xuéshēngmen zài xiàoyuán lǐ”

“The elated children are on the school grounds”

Example 3B)


“~de yú mǐn hóng pǎo qù zhǎo céng hé zìjǐ yīqǐ kǎo guò liǎng nián de huǒbàn”

“An elated Yu Minhong ran and looked for the partner who had previously tested with him for 2 years”


Questions? Comments? Other chengyu you would like us to cover? Let us know!

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