Chinese Chengyu – 狗急跳墙 – A Nervous Dog Jumps Over the Wall

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Chinese Chengyu – 狗急跳墙 – A Nervous Dog Jumps Over the Wall

The chéngyǔ 狗急跳墙 (gǒu jí tiào qiáng) breaks down to a dog (狗 gǒu) nervous (急 jí) jumps (跳 tiào) wall (墙 qiáng) Or, in more standard English, ‘A nervous dog jumps over the wall.’

While it may make sense on the surface, the true meaning of this chengyu may not perfectly match your first impression. This Chengyu describes the tendency to have surprising abilities when an emergency strikes. In fact, sometimes this chengyu is translated as “a dog can jump fences when cornered,” really stressing the urgent nature of the situation. In English, this would be akin to ‘hysterical strength’ – a display of extreme strength by humans, usually occurring in life and death situations; like parents being able to lift vehicles to rescue their children.

A more harmless example would be a close sports match (体育比赛, tǐyù bǐsài) that’s winding down on time. Players, though tired and exhausted, can sometimes muster up an extra bit of energy and perform miraculous feats, such as ‘last second shots’ and ‘overtime miracles’ (奇迹, qíjī) to win the game.

Have you experienced ‘a nervous dog jumps over the fence’ situation in your life?

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Chinese Vocabulary

狗急跳墙 gǒujítiàoqiáng chéngyǔ A nervous dog jumps over the fence
体育比赛 tǐyù bǐsà n. sports match
奇迹 qíjī n. miracle
gǒu n. dog
adj. anxious
tiào v. jump
qiáng n. wall

Here are other Chengyu from Chinese language learning related to animals you might interested in: 守株待兔, 狼多肉少, 如虎添翼.

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