Chinese chengyu – 談虎色變
The chéngyǔ 谈虎色变 (tán hǔ sè biàn) is broken down in into the four words – talk to(谈tán ) tiger (虎hǔ) color (色sè) change (变biàn). This is often translated to “one’s expression changes when ‘tiger’ is mentioned.’’
Once upon a time, there was man talking to his fellow villagers (村民 cūnmín) about the dangers of tigers. The storyteller went into great detail about all the ways a tiger could injure a man.In the crowd was a man who had previously been attacked by a tiger and almost lost his life. Hearing the storyteller just mention the word ‘tiger,’ the man’s face turned pale (苍白 cāngbái) and he felt a deep sense of dread.
The current meaning of 谈虎色变 (tán hǔ sè biàn) is to become pale and frightened the instant a certain danger is mentioned. Modern examples typically don’t include Tigers as many dangerous scenarios, like natural disasters, or personal dangers, like bullies.
|谈||tán||to talk to|
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