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Chinese Chengyu – 虎頭蛇尾

Tiger beginning and a snake like ending - tutormandarin 1-on-1 online lessons

Chinese chengyu – 虎頭蛇尾

Do you know anyone who always starts out big and promising but in the end, it might not be as great as they should be? Perhaps it’s easier to say than done or they just simply lack persistence. The chengyu 虎头蛇尾 (hǔ tóu shé wěi) breaks down tiger (虎 hǔ) head (头 tóu) snake (蛇 shé) tail (尾 wě). This means “head of a tiger, tail of a snake” or more practically “a tiger beginning with a snake like ending”.

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Practically speaking, this chengyu is about any situation that starts out, figuratively speaking, like a tiger — strong, mighty, and full of promises. However, the end result of this that of a snake — weak and soft, especially in comparison to the beginning. Put together, this chengyu is describing very anticlimactic situations where big expectations at the beginning are not met by the final result. Worse even, this can be used to describe several disappointments of things that were initially intended to be great.

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Vocabulary

Chinese Pinyin English
Tiger
tóu Head
shé Snake
Tail

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