常用中文成語英譯

Back to the Garden of English Idioms
 



說明

這裡所提供的中文成語的英文翻譯都是既有的、道地的英文成語我們不會去創造意思跟中文成語相近的英文翻譯 。所以,有些常見的中文成語在此並未列出,原因是截至目前還找不到意思對應的英文成語,或我們才疏學淺,還不知道有對應的英文成語存在。



1畫 2畫 3畫 4畫 5畫 6畫 7畫 8畫 9畫 10畫

11~20畫及以上



 
一畫

一不做,二不休
in for a penny, in for a pound
He was found stealing money from his landlady by her daughter. "In for a penny, in for a pound," he muttered to himself and then killed the little girl.
 
一文不名;一貧如洗
not have (or without) a penny to one's name; not have two halfpennies to rub together; (as) poor as a church mouse; not have a bean; not have (or without) a red cent
When I got married I didn't have a penny to my name.
That family never seem to have two halfpennies to rub together.
I am sorry, I can't lend you anything -- I haven't got a red cent.
 
一石二鳥;一箭雙雕;一舉兩得
kill two birds with one stone
Since Benjamin, one of my classmates in university, lives near my mother, I'll call in on him as well and kill two birds with one stone.
 
一帆風順
plain sailing
The security situation in the Taiwan Strait is far from being plain sailing.
 
一見如故
get on like a house on fire (英) / get along like a house on fire (美)
If two people get on/along like a house on fire, they like each other very much and become friends very quickly.
I was worried that they wouldn't like each other, but in fact they're getting on/along like a house on fire.
 
一文不值
not worth a damn
His promise isn't worth a damn.
 
一針見血;一語中的
hit the nail on the head
He hit he nail on the head when he mentioned casual sex as being the cause of her coming down with AIDS.
 
一言以蔽之
in a nutshell
There's a lot I could say about my boss's speech but to put it in a nutshell, it was terrible.
 
一命嗚呼
turn up one's toes
I hope to take a trip to the United States before I turn up my toes.
 
一絲不苟
dot one's/the i's and cross one's/the t's
You'd better make sure you dot your i's and cross your t's if you want to work at that company. They're very keen on details.

一絲不掛
in a state of nature; in the altogether; in the buff; not have a stitch on (or without a stitch on)
I had just got out of the bath and still was in the buff (or in the altogether/in a state of nature) when the maid walked in without knocking.
I had just got out of the bath when he knocked at the door and I didn't have a stitch on.
 
一模一樣
as like as two peas (in a pod)
If two brothers or two sisters are very much alike, you can say they are as like as two peas in a pod.
 
一鳴驚人;一舉成名;不同凡響
set the Thames on fire (英) / set the world on fire (美)
Mary may set the Thames on fire with her piano playing.
His great invention set the world on fire.
 
一籌莫展
up the creek (without a paddle)
He was really up the creek when his wife left him.
 
一丘之貉;物以類聚
birds of a feather (flock together); be tarred with the same brush
We all thought that he and his girlfriend were birds of a feather.
I dislike politicians of all parties because they're all tarred with the same brush.
 
一箭之遙;近在咫尺
a stone's throw
My house is only a stone's throw from the school.
 
一意孤行;我行我素;獨斷獨行
go/take one's own way
I warned him not to marry that girl, but he was determined to go his own way.
 
一知半解
a little knowledge
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. (這一句是頗有名的諺語,意為「一知半解最危險;半瓶子醋害死人」)
 
一見鍾情
fall in love (with someone) at first sight; love at first sight  (這裡 "love" 為名詞)
They fell in love with each other at first sight.
They fell in love at once; it was love at first sight.
 
一清二楚
(as) clear as crystal; (as) clear as a bell
I don't know why you can't understand the instructions; they're as clear as crystal to me.
The whole thing was as clear as a bell to me. I knew what to do.

 
一竅不通
be all Greek to someone
He tried to explain how the computer worked, but it was all Greek to me.
 
一白遮三醜
A white complexion is powerful enough to hide seven faults.
A white complexion is powerful enough to hide seven faults.
 
一朝被蛇咬,十年怕草繩;上一次當,學一次乖
once bitten, twice shy
He has cheated and deceived me on one occasion, so I don't trust him. Once bitten, twice shy.
 
一臣不事二君;一女不事二夫;一僕不事二主
no man can serve two masters
We all know that no man can serve two masters, so you cannot work for two competing companies at the same time. (我們都知道,一臣不事二君,所以你不可能同時為兩家相互競爭的公司工作)
Daniel tried going to school and working, both full-time, but soon discovered that he could not serve two masters. (丹尼爾嘗試同時全職地兼顧學業與工作,但不久就發現到魚與熊掌無法兼得)
 
一閒生百邪;無聊起壞心
the devil finds work for idle hands
"The devil finds work for idle hands" is what your mother says to you when she finds you watching television, rather than doing your homework! (當你母親發現你在看電視而不做功課時,她就會對你說「一閒生百邪」)
When Paul was young his parents warned him that the devil finds work for idle hands. (保羅年輕時,他父母親就告誡他,一閒生百邪,無聊起壞心)
 
一燕不成夏;一事成功並非萬事大吉 (喻勿以偏概全)
one swallow doesn't make a summer
When you say that one swallow does not make a summer, what you mean is that just because something good has happened, it doesn't mean good things will continue to happen. (當你說「一燕不成夏」時,你的意思就是一事成功並非萬事大吉)
 
一笑祛百病;一笑解百愁
laughter is the best medicine 
It seems that the old adage is true laughter is the best medicine. (「一笑祛百病」這句古諺似乎屢試不爽)
 
一個巴掌拍不響;一 個銅板敲不響
it takes two to tango 
She blames Amy for stealing her husband. Well, it takes two to tango. (她指責艾美偷了她的丈夫。啊,一個巴掌拍不響)
Student: "He hit me first; it wasn't my fault!" (學生:「他先打我;那不是我的錯」)
Teacher: "It takes two to tango." (老師:「一個銅板敲不響」)

二畫

九牛一毛;滄海一粟;杯水車薪
a drop in the ocean/bucket
The money we collected for the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster is really just a drop in the ocean.
 
入不敷出
live beyond one's means
My father always told me not to live beyond my means. (家父總是叮嚀我別入不敷出)
 
入境隨俗
when in Rome, do as the Romans do
A lot of people often say "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."
 
十之八九
nine times out of ten
When my wife comes home from work, nine times out of ten she buys me an evening newspaper.
 
十拿九穩;穩操勝券
be in the bag
We're sure to win. The match is in the bag.
 
力不從心;心餘力絀;心有餘而力不足
the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak (這兩句的上半句 "the spirit is willing" 和下半句 "the flesh is weak" 常被分開單獨使用)
When I asked him for help yesterday, he said "my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak."
 
人面獸心;口蜜腹劍;笑裡藏刀 (披著羊皮的狼)
a wolf in sheep's clothing
Mary trusted Jack until one day she was cheated by him, and realized that
he was a wolf in sheep's clothing.
 
人不可貌相
appearances are often deceptive 
"Appearances are often deceptive" is a commonly used idiom, meaning things are not always what they seem to be.
 
人在屋簷下,不得不低頭;情勢所逼,不得不然
needs must when the devil drives 
You can say "Needs must when the devil drives" when you must act in a certain way or do a particular thing (because it cannot be avoided).
 
人在屋簷下,不得不低頭;飢不擇食
beggars can't be choosers 
I asked Tom to lend me his bicycle, and he sent me this old, rusty one. But beggars can't be choosers. (我要湯姆將他的腳踏車借給我,而他卻送來這台老舊又生鏽的腳踏車。沒辦法,人在屋簷下,不得不低頭。)
Mary: Let me wear your green dress; I don't like the blue one you lent me. Alice: Beggars can't be choosers. (瑪麗:我要穿妳的綠色洋裝;我不喜歡妳借我的那件藍色的。愛麗絲:人在屋簷下,不得不低頭。)

註:Beggars can't be choosers. 有「人在屋簷下,不得不低頭」和「飢不擇食」這兩個意思,所以翻譯時端賴上下文的意思而定。
 

人多勢眾;人多膽壯;人多保險
there's safety in numbers 
We decided to go to see the boss together; there's safety in numbers. (我們決定一起去找老板,人多膽壯。)
Working on the principle that there's safety in numbers, we decided we should all go and complain together. (基於人多勢眾的原理,我們決定應該一起去投訴。)
 
人去樓空;逃之夭夭
the bird has flown 
Paul owed me a lot of money. When I went to his house yesterday, hoping to get my money back, the bird had flown. (保羅欠我很多錢。昨天當我去他家,希望要回我的錢時,他早已人去樓空)
It's no use searching any more. The bird has flown. (搜索沒有用了。嫌犯已逃之夭夭)

三畫

三心兩意
in two minds
My wife thinks we should go to South Korea for our holiday, but I'm still in two minds about it.
 
三番兩次
again and again; over and over (again); time and (time) again; time after time
I've told my son again and again not to run a red light. (to run a red light:闖紅燈)
 
三緘其口
hold one's peace/tongue
In spite of the fact that he made provocative remarks, I held my peace/tongue.
 
三思而後行
look before you leap
Look before you leap when doing business on the Web.
 
三句不離本行;說行話;談論工作上的事情 (這成語通常帶有貶義,暗示這些關於工作的言談讓人覺得很無聊)
(to) talk shop
They did nothing but talked shop, and I came home early because it was so boring.
 
三個臭皮匠勝過一個諸葛亮
two heads are better than one
Two heads are better than one.
 
大同小異;半斤八兩
(very) much of a muchness
The two articles are very much of a muchness.
 
大相逕庭
poles apart
They are poles apart in their political attitudes.
 
千方百計
by hook or by crook; leave no stone unturned (or no stone be left unturned)
I know this work looks difficult, but I'll finish it by hook or by crook.
The police left no stone unturned to catch Taiwan's most wanted fugitive Chang Hsi-ming (張錫銘) and they succeeded.
He promised no stone would be left unturned to get his wife back.
 
千載難逢
once in a blue moon
My wife and I rarely, if ever, eat out. So, when I told her last night "let's eat out and go to see a movie", she was very surprised and said that's really once in a blue moon.
 
寸步不離
at one's elbow
His wife was always at his elbow whenever an important decision had to be taken.
 
(像) 大海撈針
(like) looking/searching for a needle in a haystack
Trying to find a book we want in so many books is just like looking for a needle in a haystack.
 
口是心非;言不由衷
with one's tongue in one's cheek (adv.); tongue in cheek (adv.); tongue-in-check (adj.)
He described me as an excellent teacher, but he said it tongue in cheek/with his tongue in his cheek.
That's a tongue-in-cheek remark/reply.
 
大驚小怪;小題大作
make a mountain out of a molehill
Don't make a mountain out of a molehill when you know I look about ten years younger than I really am. (I look about ten years younger than I really am. 我看起來比實際年齡年輕大約10歲)
 
小題大作;殺雞用牛刀
break a butterfly on a/the wheel (「小題大作」亦可用 "make a meal out of" 和 "make a mountain out of a molehill" 來表示)
I know what I've done is wrong, but there's no need to break a butterfly on a wheel/to make a meal out of it.
 
大發雷霆
do one's nut
When I told him what she had said about him, he did his nut.
 
大獲全勝;所向披靡
sweep the board; carry (or sweep) all/everything before one
I swept the board at the casino last night.
Although I hadn't done well at high school, I carried all before me at university.
 
亡羊補牢
lock the stable door after the horse has bolted
It is never too late to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted.
 
小洞不補,大洞吃苦
a stitch in time saves nine (經常略為 "a stitch in time")
You should try and repair your car before it becomes worse. Remember, a stitch in time saves nine.
 
凡事豫則立,不豫則廢
forewarned is forearmed
Let me know when the Department Required Test (DRT) is given; forewarned is forearmed. (通知我什麼時候舉行指考;凡事豫則立)
Check the temperature before you go outside. Forewarned is forearmed. (外出前要看看氣溫。預先知道,才能有準備。)
 
三三兩兩;零零碎碎;點點滴滴
in/by dribs and drabs
The guests arrived in dribs and drabs. (賓客三三兩兩地到來)
The work had been coming in by dribs and drabs for several years. (幾年來,接到的活兒都是零零碎碎的)
 
小別勝新婚; 人不在,情更深;眼不見,心更念
absence makes the heart grow fonder
Ever since Amy's husband went on a business trip, she can't stop thinking about him. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. (艾美在她先生出差後就不停地想他。小別勝新婚)
A: It is much easier to get along with your parents when you live away from home. You miss them so much and are glad when you see them. (當你住在外面時,你會更容易跟父母相處。你會很想念他們,每當看到他們都會很高興)
B: It's true. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. (的確如此。眼不見,心更念)
 
土生土長;生於斯長於斯
born and bred
He was born and bred in Pescadores but now lives in Kaohsiung. (他是土生土長的澎湖人,但現在住在高雄)
Jack's a Londoner born and bred. (傑克是土生土長的倫敦人)
 
己所不欲,勿施於人
do as you would be done by
The age-old wisdom of "do as you would be done by" doesn't seem to apply in business. (「己所不欲,勿施於人」這古諺似乎不適用於商界)
I will endeavor to "do as you would be done by." (我會努力做到「己所不欲,勿施於人」)

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四畫

井井有條;井然有序
in apple-pie order
My wife likes to keep everything in apple-pie order.
 
少年老成;老成持重
have an old head on young shoulders
Michael has an old head on young shoulders and handles his business very well.
 
手足無措 (或窘得不知如何是好)
not know where to put oneself/one's face
When I told Linda almost everyone at her department had seen the photo of her hugging and kissing her boyfriend affectionately in the street, she was so embarrassed she didn't know where to put herself/her face.
 
日復一日 (或一連數天)
day after day; day in day out (這亦可寫成 "day in, day out")
It went on raining day after day.
If we do the same things day in day out, it isn't surprising we get bored.

附註:關於 "day after day",其他表示時間的詞也可以這樣用,如 "year after year","month after month" 和 "night after night";至於 "day in day out",其他表示時間的詞,尤其是表示較長時間的詞,也可以這樣用,如 "year in year out" (這亦可寫成 "year in, year out",以下亦同),"month in month out","week in week out" 和 "night in night out",但 hours, minutes 和 seconds 則不可以這樣用。
 
日以繼夜;夜以繼日
day and night; night and day
He thought of her wife day and night when she went on business trip abroad last year.
 
日薄西山 (或好景不長)
someone's days are numbered
Now he knows his days are numbered.
 
五十步笑百步
the pot calling the kettle black
She was criticizing me for not looking for a new job but that is like the pot calling the kettle black. She isn't looking for a new job either.
 
太歲頭上動土
beard the lion in his den (這裡 "beard" 為動詞)
My boss's in his office, so let's beard the lion in his den and ask for a pay raise.
 
中飽私囊
line one's (own) pocket/purse (with + money/profits)
The president's lack of oversight has allowed some of the Cabinet members to line their pockets with hundreds of millions of dollars.
 
心不在焉
here/there in body, but not in spirit; someone's heart is not in
I didn't understand very clearly what you said, because I was here in body, but not in spirit at the time.
John should try to find another job because his heart is always not in his work at all.
 
心滿意足;痛痛快快
to one's heart's content (這個字的重音在第二音節)
It's weekend, so you can sleep to your heart's content.
 
心曠神怡
feel on top of the world
If health has been a problem, don't worry. You'll feel on top of the world from now on.
 
火上加油 (或煽動情緒)
add fuel to the flames/fire; fan the flames/fire
The workers weren't satisfied with their wages, so when they were asked to work longer hours, it added fuel to the flames.
 
火中取栗 (意為替別人冒險)
pull the/someone's chestnuts out of the fire
I had pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for him on several occasions and was unwilling to do it again.
 
方柄圓鑿;格格不入
a square peg in a round hole
If you go to university, you will be a square peg in a round hole there because you just have no desire to study.
 
互相殘殺;互相傾軋
cut each other's throats
For a bag of gold coins they would cut each other's throats without hesitation.
 
天涯海角
the ends of the earth
"Oh dear, as you know, I would take you to the ends of the earth at any time."
 
天壤之別;天懸地隔
be worlds apart
Our ways of life are worlds apart.
George and Mary decided to get married even though their families were worlds apart.
 
今日事今日畢
never put off till tomorrow what you can do today (亦寫成 "never put off till tomorrow what may/can be done today",但較少人使用)
It should be borne in mind that never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
 
不自量力 (貪多嚼不爛)
bite off more than one can chew
I told him he would be biting off more than he could chew if he tried to get 950 points in the TOEIC test.
 
不言而喻 (或不用說);不辯自明
go without saying; speak for itself/themselves
It goes without saying that I will never love  her.
The company has had a very successful year; the figures speak for themselves.
 
不念舊惡;寬大為懷
forgive and forget
We hated each other in Taiwan; we met again in the United States last year and decided to forgive and forget. Now we have become very friendly.
 
不相上下;半斤八兩;銖兩悉稱
six of one and half a dozen of the other
Voting for a DPP or a KMT candidate is a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other.
 
不動聲色;泰然自若
keep one's countenance; play it cool
Most people could hardly keep their countenance in the face of death.
They expected us to be angry, but we had decided to play it very cool.
 
不知所措;暈頭轉向
at a loss; lose one's bearings; not know whether one is (standing) on one's head or one's heels
When she asked me if I had ever divorced any women, I was at a loss for words. ( at a loss for words:無言以對)
In all this mass of details I'm afraid I've rather lost my bearings.
When his shop was very busy yesterday morning, the poor shopkeeper didn't know whether he was on his head or his heels.

 
不屈不撓
(keep one's) chin up
He's having a pretty difficult time but he seems to be keeping his chin up.
 
不合時宜;不妥當
out of joint
Don't mention his name! No one here likes him, and it would be very out of joint if you talk about him.
 
不倫不類;非驢非馬
neither fish nor fowl; neither fish nor flesh; neither fish, flesh, nor fowl
They felt he was neither fish nor fowl--not qualified to lead the department, yet not appropriate to work as a staff member either.
 
不遺餘力;竭盡全力
fall all over oneself; fall over backwards; bend over backwards
They fell all over themselves to be helpful, but only got in the way.
She fell over backwards trying to please her boss, but it got her nowhere.
 
不擇手段;千方百計
by hook or by crook; stop at nothing (to do something)
David is trying to get that promotion by hook or by crook; he even spread rumors smearing the other candidates.
The young man wanted to be rich and would stop at nothing to get more money for himself.
 
不入虎穴,焉得虎子
nothing venture, nothing gain/win/have (or "nothing ventured, nothing gained")
"Nothing venture, nothing gain", as the saying goes.
 
內神通外鬼
an inside job
The bank robbery was an inside job. (這起銀行搶案是內神通外鬼)
There is a growing number of Americans who believe 9/11 was an inside job. (越來越多的美國人認為 911 恐怖攻擊事件是內神通外鬼)
 
文勝於武;筆勝於劍;筆桿子比槍桿子更厲害;筆端千鈞力,刀槍也難敵
the pen is mightier than the sword
Why not give up sword and take up pen? The pen is mightier than the sword for many times. (為什麼不「投戎從筆」呢? 文字的力量可是勝於武力好多倍啊!)
Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons. (不管誰說筆桿子比槍桿子更厲害,他肯定沒遭遇過自動武器)
-- General Douglas MacArthur (麥克阿瑟將軍)
 
心急水不開 (或心急水不沸)
a watched pot never boils
Don't just sit there waiting  for your girlfriend to call. A watched pot never boils. (別只是坐在那裡等著你女朋友打電話來。心急水不開啊!)
 
比上不足,比下有餘
in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king
John: How on earth did Michael get promoted to be head of his department? He's such a blunderer! (約翰:麥可到底是怎樣升到該部門主管的呢? 他真的是個粗心大意、常犯錯的人啊!)
Mary: In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. (瑪麗:比上不足,比下有餘)
亦即該部門其他人比他更粗心大意、更常犯錯。
 
及時行樂
eat, drink, and be merry (, for tomorrow we die)
Bill: No cake for me, thank you. I'm on a diet. Amy: But, Bill, this is a birthday party. Eat, drink, and be merry. (比爾:我不要蛋糕,謝謝。我正在節食。艾美:但是,比爾,這是生日派對。及時行樂吧)
Nina encouraged all her guests to eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. (妮娜鼓勵她的所有客人要及時行樂,因為我們明天就死了)
 
木已成舟
what's done cannot be undone
Kelly: I wish I hadn't insulted Maria. Laura: What's done cannot be undone. (凱莉:但願我沒有羞辱瑪麗亞。蘿拉:木已成舟)
Wendy soon regretted telling David that she loved him, but she knew that what's done cannot be undone. (溫蒂很快就後悔對大衛說,她愛他,但她知道木已成舟)
 
太陽底下沒有新鮮事
there is nothing new under the sun
John: The newspaper today is shocking. Three prominent politicians have been convicted of fraud. (今天報紙的新聞令人震驚。有三個赫赫有名的政治人物因詐欺被判有罪)
Mary: That's not shocking. It only proves that there's nothing new under the sun. (那不令人震驚。那只是證明了太陽底下沒有新鮮事)
 
毛骨悚然;背脊發涼;倒抽一口涼氣
a chill/shiver runs/goes down one's spine
I felt a chill running down my spine. (我感到毛骨悚然)

附註:本成語還有其他形式,而且比較常見,那就是 "send chills/shivers (or a chill/a shiver) up/down one's spine" (使人毛骨悚然;使人背脊發涼;使人倒抽一口涼氣)。例如:
The news of the accident sent chills down his spine. (聽到意外事故的消息,他倒抽一口涼氣)
The way he looked at me sent shivers down my spine. (他看我的方式使我打了個冷顫)
 
天妒英才;好人不長命
Those whom the gods love die young. / Whom the gods love die young.
So many brilliant authors and artists died before the age of fifty that it's easy to believe that whom the gods love die young. (許多傑出的作家和藝術家不到五十歲就撒手人寰了,讓人不由得地相信天妒英才)

A: Mr. White died of a heart attack last night. (懷特先生昨晚心臟病發作與世長辭了)
B: I'm so sorry to hear that. He's one of the greatest philanthropists in the world. (我聽了這消息很難過。他是全世界最偉大的慈善家之一)
A: He's just forty-six years old. (他才四十六歲)
B: Those whom the gods love die young. (好人不長命)
 
水落石出; 真相大白
come out in the wash
The real reasons for Megan's resignation will come out in the wash. (梅根辭職的真正原因將會水落石出)
We don't want the police to investigate, because we're afraid of what might come out in the wash. (我們不想要警方進行調查,因為我們怕事情可能真相大白)

附註:本成語原指衣服等上面的髒東西被洗掉。除「水落石出;真相大白」外,它還意為「(問題或憂慮的原因) 獲得圓滿解決」,如 Don't worry about that problem. It'll all come out in the wash. (別擔心那個問題。它會獲得圓滿解決的)。
 
心廣體胖
fat and happy
Sally and her sisters look fat and happy. (莎莉和她的姊妹們看起來都心廣體胖)
Since all the employees were fat and happy, they had little incentive to improve productivity. (由於所有員工個個心廣體胖,他們缺乏改善生產力的誘因)
 
以毒攻毒
like cures like
Homeopathy is based on the idea of "Like Cures Like," that is to say, if a substance can cause an illness, then taking a small amount of that substance can help heal the illness. (順勢療法係植基於「以毒攻毒」的概念,也就是說,如果某種物質可能致病,那麼服用少量的該物質可能有助於治療它造成的疾病)

五畫

白手起家;從頭做起
from scratch; start (again) from scratch
He's a successful entrepreneur who started from scratch.
 
白紙黑字
in black and white
I don't want to hear you promise to pay me. I want your promise in black and white.
 
本末倒置
put/set the cart before the horse
You're putting the cart before the horse by buying all this furniture before you've got the house.
 
生龍活虎;生氣勃勃
alive and kicking
My father is 82 years old but he is still very much alive and kicking.
 
生殺大權
the power/right of life and/or death
The ancient kings of this country held the power of life and death over all their servants.
 
功敗垂成;功虧一簣
(there's many) a slip twixt (the) cup and (the) lip; pipped at the post
I have to tell you that your plan is a slip twixt the cup and the lip.
We thought the owner would agree to sell us the house but we were pipped at the post by a more generous offer from someone else.

附註:1. twixt 或 betwixt 是 "between" 的舊式拼法。2. 在賽馬中,一匹馬快到終點時突然被另一匹馬超越稱之為 "pipped";現今,無論在任何比賽、競爭或選舉中,只要在最後關頭或最後一刻被擊敗或被超越時就可使用這成語來形容,如例句所言,眼看要成交時,有人卻出更高的價錢把房子買走了。
 
左右為難;進退兩難
on the horns of a dilemma
I was on the horns of a dilemma when I was offered another job because I still had/felt a great deal of loyalty to my boss.
 
左右逢源
butter both sides of one's bread
She's buttering both sides of her bread -- she works for our company during the day and has another job during the evening.
 
四面八方
on every hand; on all hands; in all directions
On every hand was a charming view of rocky buttresses and wooded heights.
 
打鐵趁熱
strike while the iron is hot; make hay while the sun shines
John may as well make hay while the sun shines, because he is young and healthy and able to earn a lot of money.
 
半途而廢
fall by the wayside; wither on the vine
How's that book you were working on?
-- Oh, I'm afraid it's fallen by the wayside.

My wife who was trying to lose weight had already withered on the vine by eating cream cakes.
 

失之東隅,收之桑榆 (即得失相當;損益相抵)
What you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts (常縮寫為 "swings and roundabouts")
It's a bit of a swings-and-roundabouts situation. (a swings-and-roundabouts situation:得失相當的情況)
 
未雨綢繆;以備不時之需
for a rainy day
You'd better save some money for a rainy day.
 
出人頭地;功成名就
make one's/its mark
After having been working for the company for more than 15 years, he finally made his mark.
 
以升容斗;以小容大;做明知辦不到的事
put a quart into a pint pot (通常用於否定句)
Many new people have moved into this small town and they have nowhere to live. You can't put a quart into a pint pot.
 
以怨報德;恩將仇報
bite the hand that feeds one
The man had worked for the company for several years. When he was caught stealing, his employer felt that he had bitten the hand that fed him.
 
以眼還眼,以牙還牙
an eye for an eye (and a tooth for a tooth)
I didn't believe in the death penalty -- an eye for an eye -- but how else can we stop this sort of thing?
 
以其人之道還治其人之身
pay someone back in their own coin
II decided to pay her back in her own coin and refuse to help her.
 
生死存亡;成敗攸關
sink or swim
He has refused to give us any more help, and has left us to sink or swim by our own efforts. (他拒絕再給我們任何幫助,讓我們自找生路)
He was left by his family to sink or swim by himself. (他遭家人遺棄,生死存亡一切得靠自己)
 
以毒攻毒;以賊捉賊
set a thief to catch a thief
The government set a thief to catch a thief, hiring a stockbroker convicted of fraudulent practices to entrap the stockbroker they were investigating for fraud. (政府以毒攻毒,雇用了一名曾因詐欺被判刑的股票經紀人來誘使那位涉嫌詐欺、正受到調查的股票經紀人自投羅網)
 
兄弟鬩牆;同室操戈;自相殘殺
creations of Cadmus
I can never imagine that the sons and daughters would attack one another like the creations of Cadmus in the presence of their dying father. (我無法想像這些兒女們竟在他們那垂死的父親面前互相攻擊,兄弟鬩牆)

六畫

行將就木;奄奄一息;生命垂危
at death's door
We were very surprised to hear that our favorite teacher was at death's door.
 
老調重彈
harp on one (or the same) string
I've already told you many times that I have no money to lend you. I wish you'd stop harping on the same string.
 
多此一舉;徒勞無益
carry coals to Newcastle
To offer him money is to carry coals to Newcastle, for he is very wealthy. (給他錢就多此一舉了,因為他非常富有)
 
妄自尊大;自以為了不起
too big for one's boots
John is too big for his boots; that's his trouble.
 
守口如瓶
keep a quiet/still tongue (in one's head)
You'll keep a quiet tongue in your head, will you?
 
充耳不聞
stop one's ears; turn a deaf ear
He stopped his ears to bad news.
The president always turns a deaf ear to people's complaints.
 
光陰似箭;歲月易逝
time flies
Scientists prove time flies when you're busy.
 
先發制人;比...搶先一步
steal a march on (someone)
The company plans to steal a march on its competitors by offering the same computer at a lower price.
 
夸夸其談;信口開河;信口雌黃
shoot off one's mouth
It seems like every senior official in the administration is free to shoot off his mouth on any subjects at any time.
 
血濃於水
blood is thicker than water
He gave his brother a good job because blood is thicker than water.
 
江山易改,本性難移
a leopard doesn't/can't change its spots; a leopard never changes its spots
I doubt very much that marriage will change Edward for the better. A leopard doesn't change its spots. (我非常懷疑婚姻會使愛德華變好。江山易改,本性難移)
It's not surprising that he was sentenced to five years in prison again, because a leopard never changes its spots. (他再度被判入獄五年並不令人驚訝,因為江山易改,本性難移)
 
百聞不如一見;眼見為憑
to see is to believe; seeing is believing
To see is to believe? No, eyes can be easily deceived.
 
全力以赴
do one's level best; go all out; go great guns; pull out all the stops; put one's best foot forward
I did my level best to help him.
I will go great guns for the team.
Don't worry too much about the TOEFL iBT test. Just put your best foot forward and do what you can!
 
早起的鳥兒有蟲吃
the early bird catches the worm
Remember, it's the early bird catches the worm - you should try to get to it early.
 
有志者事竟成
where there is a will there is a way
In the writing test, John concluded his essay by writing "where there is a will there is a way."
 
有其父必有其子
like father/mother, like son/daughter
A good example of "like father, like son" is George Bush and George W. Bush.
 
安如磐石;十分平穩
(as) steady as a rock
As he aimed the gun, his hand was as steady as a rock.
 
安然無恙
safe and sound
All his sons returned safe and sound from the war.

附註:"safe and sound" 的發音並不是一個字一個字唸,而是將 and 中的 "d" 不發音,並將 "an" 與其前面的子音 (在此為 safe 中的 "f") 連音,所以實際的讀音是 "sa - fan - sound"。英文有不少類似 "safe and sound" 這種使用兩個詞性相同的字、中間用 and 連接起來的固定搭配,它們有些有連字號,有些沒有,但不管有無連字號,它們實際的讀音大多如上述,如 "cloak-and-dagger"、"hard-and-fast"、"ins and outs"、"up and about"、"spick-and-span" 等等;當然啦,如果 "and" 前面那個字的字尾是母音,那麼就不會有這種連音的情況發生。讀者若能把握這原則,並勤加練習,對於聽力的提升也會有所助益的。這種固定搭配在英文中叫做 "binomial"。
 
名副其實
worth (or worthy of) the name
No policeman worth the name should ever let a criminal escape so easily.
 
如坐針氈;坐立不安;焦躁不安;如熱鍋上的螞蟻
like a cat on hot bricks (英) / like a cat on a hot tin roof (美); on pins and needles
Marian was like a cat on hot bricks before her wedding ceremony. (婚禮前瑪麗安焦躁不安,像熱鍋上的螞蟻)
What's the matter with Kelly? She's like a cat on a hot tin roof this morning. (凱莉怎麼啦?她今天早上坐立難安,像熱鍋上的螞蟻)
 
如意算盤;痴心妄想;一廂情願
wishful thinking
Their hopes of a peace settlement are nothing more than wishful thinking.
 
因小失大
spoil the ship for a ha'porth o'tar
I'm going to buy some new paint brushes -- all the old ones have gone stiff. I've paid a lot for the paint and I don't want to spoil the ship for a ha'porth o'tar.

附註:這句成語中,ha'porth = halfpennyworth,o'tar = of tar。它原來是寫成 "spoil the sheep for a ha'porth of tar",即「不願花半便士買焦油醫治羊傷而導致羊死亡」。有些地方將 sheep 的音發成 ship。
 
自吹自擂;自我吹噓
blow one's own trumpet/horn
She's very good at blowing  her own trumpet.
 
自取滅亡;自掘墳墓;咎由自取;自食其果
sign one's own death warrant; dig one's own grave; stew in one's own juice
You're just digging your own grave if you go on smoking so heavily.
 
自作自受; 自食其果;自尋死路;作法自斃
cut/slit one's (own) throat; have made one's bed and must (or have to) lie in/on it; stew in one's own juice
You've made your bed and you must lie on it.
I would just be cutting my own throat if I stopped work now.
 
自討苦吃;自找麻煩
make a rod for one's own back
I've just made a rod for my own back by working for that company, because they always expect one to work many hours without pay.
 
自高自大;自命不凡
be/get/rise above oneself
Don't be getting far above yourself; you are no more than a secretary.
 
自斷後路;破釜沈舟
burn one's boats/bridges (behind one)
Now we've burned our bridges behind us and we have no option but to go forward with the project.
 
劣幣驅逐良幣
bad money drives out good
"Bad money drives out good" is a proverb and also an economic principle.
 
有失才有得;有得必有失
one/you can't (or cannot) make an omelet (or omelette) without breaking eggs
Twenty jobs will have to be cut if the company's going to be made more efficient. But you can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. (如果這家公司要更有效率,那麼它必須裁員 20 人。但有失才有得)
 
光說不練;只會坐而言,不會起而行
be all mouth and trousers; be all mouth and no trousers; be all mouth (語氣較弱)
They talked all night about how to solve the problems, but wouldn't do anything to help. Their trouble was that they were all mouth and trousers. (他們整晚都在談論該如何解決這些問題,但就是不肯動手幫忙。他們的毛病就是光說不練)
We did not vote for him because he was known to be all mouth and no trousers. (我們沒有投票給他,因為大家都知道他只會坐而言,不會起而行)
 
死不瞑目
turn/roll (over) in one's grave
If your poor father heard you say that, he'd turn over in his grave. (如果你可憐的父親聽到你那樣說,他會死不瞑目的)
She'd turn in her grave if she knew what he was spending his inheritance on. (如果她知道他將他繼承的遺產花在什麼地方,她會死不瞑目的)
 
死人不會告密
dead men tell no tales
The club members liked to hold their secret meetings in a graveyard, since dead men tell no tales. (會社成員喜歡在墓地舉行秘密會議,因為死人不會告密)
Boss: Allen is going to tell the police that we robbed the bank. How can we stop him? (角頭老大:艾倫將要告訴賊頭我們搶銀行。我們要怎樣才能制止他?) Gangster: Dead men tell no tales. (黑幫份子:死人不會告密)

附註:這成語是小說、電影中罪犯殺人滅口時的常用語。
 

各有所好
one man's meat is another man's poison
John: I don't understand why Ben doesn't like to read science fiction. It's the most interesting thing to read. Mary: One man's meat is another man's poison. (約翰:我不懂班為何不喜歡看科幻小說。那是最有趣的讀物。瑪麗:人各有所好)
I don't want to do her job, but she seems to love it very much. Oh well, one man's meat is another man's poison. (我不想做她的工作,但她似乎非常喜歡。啊,人真是各有所好)
 
老年吃嫩草
rob the cradle
Man, David's girlfriend is only 14, he's robbing the cradle! (老兄,大衛的女友只有 14 歲,他老牛吃嫩草!)
You're kind of robbing the cradle, man. (老兄,你有點老牛吃嫩草)

附註:至於吃嫩草的「老牛」則叫做 cradle robber。
 
自欺欺人;鴕鳥心態
bury/hide one's head in the sand
Stop burying your head in the sand. Look at the statistics on smoking and cancer. (別再自欺欺人了。看看這些有關抽菸與癌症的統計數字吧)
Parents said bullying was being ignored, and accused the headmaster of burying his head in the sand. (家長表示,霸凌問題遭到漠視,並譴責校長採取鴕鳥心態)
 
自言自語
think out loud
Mary thinks out loud occasionally. (瑪麗偶爾會自言自語)
Benson just stood there and thought out loud when he heard the bad news. (班森聽到這壞消息後就站在那裡自言自語)
 
血流如注
bleed like a stuck pig
Paul got hit hard with that baseball! He was bleeding like a stuck pig! (保羅被那個棒球狠狠擊中! 他血流如注!)
I bled like a stuck pig when I cut myself. (我割傷自己後血流如注)
 
有過之而無不及
in spades
He complained that Allen had stolen some of his ideas, but Randy didn't mention that he had done the same in spades. (他抱怨艾倫竊取了他的一些構想,但蘭迪並未提及他也竊取別人的構想,有過之而無不及)
All the workers may think the old boss was bad-tempered, but the new one is the same – in spades! (所有員工可能都認為舊老闆脾氣暴躁,但新老闆的脾氣也一樣,有過之而無不及!)
 
汗流浹背;揮汗如雨;滿身大汗;大汗淋漓
sweat like a pig; sweat bullets
That was really good exercise. I'm sweating like a pig! (那真是不錯的運動。我已經汗流浹背了!)
Kelly was so nervous that she was sweating like a pig. (凱莉緊張得大汗淋漓)
Jerry was sweating bullets by the time the police had finished questioning him. (到了警方完成對他的偵訊時,傑瑞已經揮汗如雨了)
 
如簧之舌;鼓舌如簧;能言善道
a silver tongue
I hope you've not allowed yourself to be persuaded by Rachel's silver tongue. (我希望你沒被瑞秋的如簧之舌所說動)
Jimmy has a sliver tongue. (吉米能言善道)
 
安分守己 (自知身份或地位低而安分守己)
know one's place
Students should know their place and never speak rudely to their teachers. (學生理應自知分寸,絕不可對老師出言不遜)
Most women knew their place then, which was to take care of the kids and cook the meals. (當時大多數婦女都安分守己,在家帶小孩煮飯)
I know my place, so I won't speak unless spoken to. (我知道自己地位比較低,所以除非有人跟我說話,否則我就不說話)
 
夷為平地
raze something to the ground
The council decided to raze the old city hall to the ground. (市議會決定將舊市政廳夷為平地)
This apartment building is to be razed to the ground. (這棟公寓大樓將被夷為平地)

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七畫

赤手空拳
(one's) bare hands
I killed the tiger with my bare hands.
 
作威作福;盛氣凌人;頤指氣使
lord it (over someone)
Since she got the highest mark in the final math exam, she has lorded it over the other students in her class as if she knew everything about math.
 
防患未然 (在萌芽時就將其消滅,或一開始時就加以制止)
nip (something) in the bud
There are a couple of things bothering me very much that I want to nip in the bud.
 
身強力壯;非常健康
(as) fit as a fiddle/flea
He was fit as a fiddle when he was at law college.
 
(尤指因缺乏社交技巧而) 局促不安;不自在的
ill at ease
He is always ill at ease at parties.
 
忍氣吞聲
swallow one's pride
I was forced to swallow my pride and apologize to my boss for his fault.
 
每況愈下
go downhill; go down the Swanee; go from bad to worse; on the slide; on the wane
I'm going to leave the country. Since the present government came into power, the whole situation of people's lives has been going down the Swanee.

附註:"Swanee" 是美國一條河流的名稱,因史蒂芬˙佛斯特 (Stephen Foster, 1825-1864) 1851年的民歌 "Old Folks at Home" (家鄉老友 -- 有人譯為「老鄉親」) 而出名,歌詞開頭是 "Way down upon the Swanee River"。
 
坐失良機
miss the boat
She missed the boat when she said no to that deal. It turned out to be worth millions.
 
言出必行;言行一致;說到做到
suit/fit the action to the word
He suited the action to the word and married her last year.
 
言多必失
the less said the better
It is best to say nothing at all when you are in an unfamiliar environment because "the less said the better."
 
言歸於好 (尤指長期不和後)
bury the hatchet; make one's peace
John and his wife who went to court yesterday to fight about their marriage have decided to bury the hatchet.
 
否極泰來;苦盡甘來;雨過天晴
after a storm comes a calm; after the storm comes a calm; the calm after a storm
Don't worry again, Tom, after a storm comes a calm. All bad things are gone, and everything will get better and better. (湯姆,別再擔心了,否極泰來。所有不好的事情都已過去,未來一切將會越來越好)
John: I can't believe how peaceful the office is today, when yesterday everyone was threatening to quit. Jane: After a storm comes a calm. (約翰:我不敢相信今天辦公室會這麼平靜,昨天大家不是還揚言要辭職嗎! 珍:雨過天晴)
 
拋磚引玉;吃小虧佔大便宜;以小魚釣大魚;用小本賺大錢
(throw) a sprat to catch a mackerel/whale
The policy aims mainly to throw a sprat to catch a mackerel. (這項政策旨在拋磚引玉)
Every week I invest one hundred NT dollars on the lottery tickets. It's a sprat to catch a mackerel because one day I could win one hundred million. (我每個禮拜都花一百元買樂透彩,這完全是一種小冒險求大利的行動,因為有一天我可能會中1億元)
 
投鼠忌器;自己有過勿道他人之短
people/those who live in glass houses should not throw stones
"People who live in glass houses should not throw stones" is a saying, meaning people with faults of their own should take care not to attack the faults of others. (People who live in glass houses should not throw stones 是句諺語,意為「自己有缺點就別揭人家短處」)
Mary says that Amy is selfish, but Mary is more selfish herself. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. (瑪麗說艾美自私自利,但她自己更自私自利。自己有同樣缺點的人最好不要說別人)
 
佛要金裝,人要衣裝
clothes make the man
Clothes make the man, dressed to the nines. (佛要金裝,人要衣裝,盛裝赴會)
Some women have used "Clothes make the woman" to mean the same thing as "Clothes make the man" because of their belief that this is gender equality. (一些女性使用 "Clothes make the woman" 來表示 "Clothes make the man" 的意思,因為她們認為這是性別平等)
 
快刀斬亂麻;大刀闊斧
cut the Gordian knot
It appears that even President Barack Obama, a leader upon whom the expectations of the world await, has been unable to cut the Gordian knot. (似乎就連歐巴馬這位全球寄予厚望的領導人也不能快刀斬亂麻)
The new manager found that none of the staff liked him, but he soon cut the Gordian knot by dismissing them all. (新上任的經理發現職員都不喜歡他,於是就快刀斬亂麻,把他們全部給辭退了)
 
忍俊不禁 (忍不住笑出來)
(have ...) in stitches
His jokes had us in stitches. (他的笑話讓我們忍不住捧腹大笑)
She had everyone in stitches. (她把每個人都逗得忍不住哈哈大笑)。
 
見樹不見林
not see the wood/forest for the trees
Some people often cannot see the wood for the trees. (有些人經常見樹不見林)
The information presented in this textbook is so disorganized that I can't see the wood for the trees. (這本教科書所提供的資訊雜亂無章,致使我見樹不見林)
The politician's opponents claimed that she couldn't see the forest for the trees, because she spent so much time trying to solve minor problems. (這位政治人物的對手宣稱,她 見樹不見林,因為她花太多時間在解決不重要的問題上)

附註:not see the wood for the trees 的前面通常用 can, could 或 be able,即 cannot/can't/couldn't/be not able to see the wood for the trees。
 
見錢眼開;財迷心竅
have an itching palm; have itching palms
He has an itching palm and will certainly accept the money. (他見錢眼開,肯定會把錢收下的)
Don't trust them. They have itching palms and will certainly try to cheat you out of your prize money. (別相信他們。他們都財迷心竅,一定會想辦法騙走你的獎金)

附註:這成語原指從前人們相信手癢是進財之兆,它亦經常以當副詞用的介系詞片語 with an itching palm 型態出現,如 My uncle was born with an itching palm. (我伯父天生貪財)。
 
坐而言不如起而行;聽其言不如觀其行
actions speak louder than words
You keep saying that you'll do your best to clean the bedroom. Remember that actions speak louder than words. (你不斷說你會盡全力打掃臥房。記得:坐而言不如起而行)
Of course the government have made all sorts of promises but as we all know, actions speak louder than words. (當然了,政府已經做了各種承諾,但眾所周知,聽其言不如觀其行)
 
杞人憂天;自尋煩惱
cross one's bridges before one comes to them (or cross a bridge before one comes to it)
Mary's always crossing her bridges before coming to them. She needs to learn to relax. (瑪麗老是杞人憂天。她必須學會放鬆自己)
Sometimes we have to face the reality, but don't cross a bridge before you come to it. (有時我們必須面對現實,但也別杞人憂天、自尋煩惱)

附註:這成語字面的意思是「未到橋頭先著急」,即「事未臨頭先發愁」。
 
佔著茅坑不拉屎
a dog in the manger
Don't be such a dog in the manger! If you don't want that Barbie doll, give it to Amy. (不要這樣佔著茅坑不拉屎! 如果妳不玩那個芭比娃娃,就送給艾美吧)
Cindy borrowed a lot of books from the library but she didn't read any of them. She was really a dog in the manger. (辛蒂從圖書館借了很多書,但一本也沒有看過,真是佔著茅坑不拉屎)

附註:Manger 意為「馬槽」,這個成語源自《伊索寓言》(Aesop),字面意思為「狗佔馬槽」,指狗本身不吃為馬準備的草料,卻又佔著馬槽不讓馬吃。所以,a dog in the manger 是諷刺那些自私的人佔有某些東西,卻不使用,又不肯與人分享。
 
投桃報李
You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. / If you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. / I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine.
I'll grab the box on the top shelf if you will creep under the table and pick up my pen. You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours. (如果你願意爬到桌子下面撿我的筆,我也願意把架子最上面的箱子拿下來。你幫我,我也幫你,投桃報李)
I do have some information you might be interested in, but what can you offer me in return? You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. (我真的有一些你可能感興趣的資訊,但你要拿什麼來回報呢?投桃報李啊!)
 
別有用心;圖謀私利
have an axe to grind
He may offer you a post in his firm, but he has an axe to grind, he wants to go out with your sister. (他可能讓你到他的公司任職,但他別有用心,他想跟你妹妹交往)
I have known Peter for a long time and can say with certainty that he is a fair man who has no axe to grind. (我認識彼得已久,可以肯定地說,他是個沒有私心的正人君子)
 
束手無策;無計可施;黔驢技窮
at one's wits' end
I'm at my wits' end with this problem. (我對這問題無計可施)
I have a problem that has me at wits' end, and I'm hoping you can help. (我有個問題使我束手無策,我期望你能幫忙)
 
更上一層樓
take it up a notch
This project is already quite amazing, but let's take it up a notch and make it perfect. (這項企畫案已經很棒了,但我們可以更上一層樓,使它更完美)
Ava was enjoying her carefree single life but decided to "take it up a notch" and hire a person to help with any heavy housework. (艾娃喜歡無憂無慮的單身生活,但她決定「更上一層樓」,雇人來幫忙做粗重的家事)
 
投機取巧
wheel and deal (v.); wheeling and dealing (n.)
Harvey spends his time wheeling and dealing on the stock exchange. (哈維把時間都用於從事投機的股票交易)
Mark loves to wheel and deal in the money markets. (馬克熱愛在貨幣市場做投機生意)
No one will vote for a politician who wheels and deals and has nothing else. (沒有人會投票給除了胡作非為沒有其他本事的政客)
It's a book about all the wheeling and dealing that goes on in financial markets. (那是一本有關金融市場各種投機取巧伎倆的書)
Scott got tired of all the wheeling and dealing of big business and quit his job resolutely and determinedly to run a coffee shop in the country. (史考特厭倦了大財團的一切投機取巧行徑,因此毅然決然辭職,到鄉下開了一間咖啡館)

附註:這成語尤指商業或政治上的投機取巧、胡作非為。
 
束之高閣
put in mothballs
The directors have put the plans for a new subsidiary in mothballs. (董事們已將成立一家新子公司的計畫束之高閣)
The proposal for a new library was put in mothballs by the mayor. (設立新圖書館的方案已被市長束之高閣)

八畫

金科玉律
golden rule
I have one golden rule that anyone can put into practice: eating less makes you healthier.
 
空中樓閣
castles in the air
Your plan to run for the president is merely a castle in the air.
 
知足常樂;足食猶如盛宴
enough is as good as a feast
The old proverb "enough is as good as a feast" doesn't apply to her.
 
長話短說;簡而言之
cut/make a long story short
To cut a long story short, the fact is that you are not welcome here.
 
來日方長
tomorrow is another day
After he had failed the GEPT, I told him that "Don't be too sad. Tomorrow is another day."
 
卑躬屈膝;畢恭畢敬;點頭哈腰
bow and scrape
From the way she's bowing and scraping in front of the boss, you'll know what sort of person she is.
 
事後諸葛;事後聰明
wise after the event
If we had waited another week we could have bought the car more cheaply. Well, it's easy to be wise after the event.
 
直言不諱
call a spade a spade; speak one's (own) mind
I like this guy because he always calls a spade a spade.
I'm furious about it, and I intend to speak my mind to my boss.
 
枉費心機 (或白費心機);徒勞無功;狂犬吠月
bay (at) the moon
This company has spent a lot of money on advertising its new improved type of CD player. But it's baying at the moon. Who wants a CD player when DVD players are now cheaper?

附註:bay 在此當動詞用,意為「(獵犬) 不斷地吠叫」。
 
孤注一擲
put all one's eggs in/into one basket; put one's shirt on
When the company she had invested all her money in went bankrupt, she wished she hadn't put all her eggs in one basket.
I think I've a very good chance of getting that job, but I wouldn't put my shirt on it.
 
乳臭未乾
(still) wet behind the ears
He made a lot of mistakes, back when he was still wet behind the ears.
 
屈指可數;寥寥無幾
can (or be able to) count on one's fingers
He's too stingy, so he can count his good friends on his fingers.
 
迎頭趕上(或擺脫困境;挽回損失)
make up leeway
Despite the fact that John has poor performances in exams, the teacher has decided to give him a chance to make up leeway.
 
奄奄一息;半死不活
(to) within an inch of one's life
Her husband beat her to within an inch of her life in a domestic violence. (她丈夫對她家暴,把她打得奄奄一息/半死不活)

附註:這成語的基本型式為"within an inch of" (= very near, very close to:差一點,險些兒),如:"We came within an inch of death." (我們險些兒喪命)。
 

明珠暗投;對牛彈琴
cast pearls before swine
I tried to explain the beauty of Chinese characters to my foreign friends but it was just casting pearls before swine.
 
怏怏不樂(情緒或心情不佳)
out of humor (in a bad temper; moody)
He seems out of humor. He has been shouting at everybody all day long.
 
昂首(或抬頭)挺胸;趾高氣揚
hold one's head high; with one's head held high
I have boasted in my youth and held my head high and gone on my way careless of consequences. (Evelyn Waugh) -- 伊利文渥夫為英國作家,生前著有「一掬塵土」(A Handful of Dust) 等作品。
It is important to walk with your head held high to keep your body shape.
 
近廟欺神;親暱生狎侮;過度親密,易生侮慢之心
familiarity breeds contempt
The movie star doesn't let anyone get to know him, because he knows that familiarity breeds contempt. (這位電影明星不讓任何人跟他混得太熟,因為他知道過度親密,易生侮慢之心)
You two are going to find it difficult living and working together. Familiarity breeds contempt, you know. (你們兩人將會發現生活和工作都在一起是有困難的。
親暱生狎侮嗎!)
 
拖拖拉拉;磨磨蹭蹭
let the grass grow under one's feet
That man is never content to let the grass grow under his feet. (那名男子做事不喜歡拖拖拉拉、浪費時間)
I want this work done quickly, so don't let the grass grow under your feet! (我要你快點把工作做好,別磨磨蹭蹭
!)
 
拆東牆補西牆;以債養債
rob Peter to pay Paul
It's very unwise to rob Peter to pay Paul. (拆東牆補西牆是非常不明智的)
Robbing Peter to pay Paul is quite common during economic downturn. (經濟衰退期間,以債養債的情況頗為普遍
)
 
姑息養奸;護惡養奸
nurse a viper in one's bosom
The leaders of that political party will soon be forced to admit that they have been nursing vipers in their bosom─that man's ideas could lose them a lot of public support. (那個政黨的領導人不久將不得不承認他們一直在姑息養奸 -- 那個人的主意可能使他們失去許多民眾的支持)
Your brother is a drug addict, and you have nursed a viper in your bosom. (你哥哥是個毒蟲,而你卻一直護惡養奸)
 
兩人成伴,三人不歡
two's company, three's a crowd
If your girlfriend's coming with us, I'll think of some excuse to come home early. Two's company, three's a crowd. (如果你女友要跟我們一起去,我就找個藉口早點回家。兩人成伴,三人不歡)

附註:這成語常略作 two's company,大多用在情侶關係上,兩人世界多甜 蜜,當有第三者或電燈泡 (a third wheel) 出現時,誰還會高興呢!
 
怕熱就別進廚房
if you can't stand/take the heat, get out of the kitchen
It'll take a lot of weekend overtime to finish, so if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. (週末需花許多時間加班才能完成工作,所以怕熱就別進廚房)

附註:據稱,這一俗諺的始作俑者是美國已故總統杜魯門 (Harry S. Truman)。他在總統任內的 1949 年告誡他的幕僚,別在乎外界對他們任命的批評。當時他說:"I'll stand by [you] but if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen." (我會挺 [你們],但怕熱就別進廚房)。不過,根據愛達荷州的 Soda Springs Sun 報引述杜魯門的話所做的報導,他早在還未當上總統的 1942 年就已說過類似的話:"If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen."。
 
法網恢恢
the long arm of the law
The long arm of the law is going to tap you on the shoulder some day, George. (喬治,總有一天你會受到法律制裁)
The long arm of the law finally caught up with the drug baron. (法網恢恢,那位毒梟終於落網)
 
易如反掌
(as) easy as pie; (as) easy/simple as falling off a log
My physics exam was as easy as pie. (我的物理考試易如反掌)
Annie's job is as easy as falling off a log. (安妮的工作真是易如反掌)

附註:英文中還有兩個形義相近的成語亦很常用,那就是 (as) easy as 1-2-3 和 (as) easy as A, B, C。
 
狗急跳牆;忍耐總有限度
even a worm will turn
You'd better stop maltreating Nina. She's a mild-mannered woman, but even a worm will turn. (你最好停止虐待妮娜。她是個溫文爾雅的女性,但忍耐總有限度)
Even a worm will turn; you had better give her a way out. (人急造反,狗急跳牆;你最好給她一條出路 - 別逼人太甚)
 
明褒暗貶
damn somebody/something with faint praise
Mrs. Wang is very proud of her daughter's achievements, but damns her son's with faint praise. (王太太對她女兒的成就深感驕傲,但對她兒子的成就明褒暗貶)
Amy damned Peter with faint praise, calling him one of the best imitators in the world. (艾美對彼得明褒暗貶,稱他是世上最優秀的模仿者之一)
 
味如嚼蠟;枯燥乏味
(as) dry as dust
The bread is as dry as dust. (這麵包味如嚼蠟)
Those books are all as dry as dust. (那些書全都枯燥乏味)
 
枕邊細語
pillow talk
I love having pillow talk because we can say anything. (我喜歡枕邊細語,因為我們可以無所不談)
She tiptoed out of the bedroom after the pillow talk was over. (枕邊細語結束後,她躡手躡腳地走出臥室)
 
事過境遷;時移物換
A lot of water has flowed/passed/gone under the bridge; water under the bridge
I should probably have asked for more money when I was offered the job, but hey, that's water under the bridge now. (在我獲得這份工作的時候,或許我應該要求更高的薪資,但喂,那已事過境遷)
A lot of water had flowed/passed/gone under the bridge since we last visited Pescadores, and many old buildings now no longer existed. (自從我們上次到澎湖遊覽之後,時移物換,許多舊建築物已不復存在)

附註:這成語有許多變化型式,包括將 a lot of 換成 plenty of,動詞可以使用 flow, pass 或 go,以及使用比較簡潔的形式 "water under the bridge";再者,這成語後面往往接 since 子句。
 
兩害相權取其輕
the lesser of two evils
I didn't like either candidate, so I voted for the lesser of two evils. (兩個候選人我都不喜歡,所以我把票投給比較不爛的那個,兩害相權取其輕嘛!)
Given the options of going out with someone I don't like and staying home and watching a boring television program, I chose the lesser of the two evils and watched television. (若要在跟我不喜歡的人外出以及留在家裡看無聊的電視節目之間作一抉擇,兩害相權取其輕,我選擇留在家裡看電視)

九畫

赴湯蹈火
go through fire and water
I will go through fire and water to help my relatives and friends.
 
風平浪靜;水平如鏡
(as) calm as a millpond; like a millpond
The Dead Sea is normally as calm as a millpond./The Dead Sea is normally like a millpond.
 
既往不咎(過去的事就讓它過去吧;盡棄前嫌)
let bygones be bygones
Despite the fact that her father treats her very badly, she has decided to let bygones be bygones and take care of him when he is too old. (儘管她父親對她很不好,但她已決定過去的事就讓它過去,在他垂垂老矣時照顧他)
Fiona held a grudge against her teacher for a long time, but she finally decided to let bygones be bygones. (費歐娜對她老師懷恨已久,但她最後決定盡棄前嫌)
 
怒氣衝天;大發雷霆
go up in the air (參見「大發雷霆」-- do one's nut)
My girlfriend went up in the air because I had a date with another girl.
 
美中不足
a/the fly in the ointment
I've been offered a wonderful job, but the only fly in the ointment is that the pay is not too good.
 
洗心革面;改過自新;重新做人
turn over a new leaf
I've decided to turn over a new leaf and find a good job.
 
省吃儉用
pinch and scrape
I have to pinch and scrape in order to save enough money to visit my parents in Japan next year.
 
信口開河;胡說八道
talk through one's hat
He says he knows genetics very well, but he's talking through his hat!
 
英雄所見略同
great minds think alike
A: "I was just thinking to call you, then the phone rang and it was you calling me."
B: "Great minds think alike."

A: "This summer I've decided to take scuba diving lessons."
B: "Really? Me too. I have already paid for the course."
A: "Great minds think alike."
 
首屈一指;獨占鼇頭;出類拔萃
bear (or carry off) the palm
Students of this university bear the palm in the international landscape designing contest.
 
神色自若;泰然自若;不動聲色
not turn a hair
When someone we fear passes near, it makes our hair stand on end, no matter how much we try not to turn a hair.
 
恨之入骨
hate like poison
They hate each other like poison.
The teacher was hated like poison by all his students.
 
飛黃騰達
make it big; fly high
"Believe me! I am going to make it big myself one day."
He began flying high when he got married to his wealthy wife.

 
指名道姓(說出做壞事者或違法者的姓名)
name names
She swears she will never name names, even if she were offered a reward.
 
胡說八道
stuff and nonsense!
Stuff and nonsense! I never said that sort of thing.
 
怒目而視
look daggers at
I suddenly noticed my wife looking daggers at me and thought I'd better shut up.
 
屏息以待(或屏住呼吸)
hold one's breath
I held my breath and waited to see if my name had been called for an interview with the movie company.
The movie was so horrible that everybody held his breath.

 
厚此薄彼
make fish of one and flesh of another
Don't make fish of one and flesh of another in treating your children.
 
咬牙切齒
gnash one's teeth
The man gnashed his teeth when he saw his wife going on a date with another man.
 
咬緊牙關
grit one's teeth
One has to grit one's teeth during difficult times.
 
秘而不宣;守口如瓶
keep one's (own) counsel; play/keep/hold one's cards close to one's/the chest (參見「守口如瓶」-- keep a quiet/still tongue)
he's known to keep his counsel and not prematurely reveal his position on some sensitive issues.
With reference to the reasons for his unexpected promotion, he always plays his cards close to his chest.
 
挑三揀四;挑挑揀揀
pick and choose (注意:pick 和 choose 的順序不可對調)
There are just too many new houses in the city for us to pick and choose.
 
挑燈夜戰;開夜車
burn the midnight oil
The semester is almost over and we're all burning the midnight oil before exams.
 
為所欲為
get away with (blue) murder
Some well-placed people in Taiwan can indeed get away with blue murder!
 
活到老學到老
live and learn
"Live and learn" is an idiom meaning it's never too late to learn. (Live and learn 是句成語,意為「活到老學到老」)
I had no idea that she was as old as that. Well, you/we live and learn. (我沒想到她年紀這麼大了。真是活到老學到老)
 
若要人不知,除非己莫為
murder will out
Your extramarital affairs can't be kept secret forever, because murder will out. (你的婚外情不可能永遠保密,因為若要人不知,除非己莫為)
The President thought no one would ever discover his crime, but murder will out. (總統以為沒有人會發現他的罪行,但若要人不知,除非己莫為)
 
垂頭喪氣;夾著尾巴
with one's tail between one's legs
He left the meeting with his tail between his legs after he was criticized by the president. (他遭到董事長斥責後垂頭喪氣地離席)
The salesman was forced to leave the office with his tail between his legs after he admitted telling a lie about his sales figures. (那位銷售員在承認謊報銷售數據後被迫夾著尾巴離職)
 
要某人好看;叫某人吃不了 (或吃不完) 兜著走;給某人顏色瞧瞧
(will) have someone's guts for garters
If I catch you smoking again I'll have your guts for garters. (如果我再抓到你抽煙,我會叫你吃不完兜著走)
The students had to finish their English assignment before lunchtime or else the teacher would have their guts for garters. (學生必須在午飯前完成他們的英文作業,否則老師就會給他們顏色瞧瞧)
 
風燭殘年;行將就木
have one foot in the grave
I was so sick, I felt as if I had one foot in the grave. (我病得這麼重,我覺得好像行將就木)
My grandpa is 98 years old and  has one foot in the grave. (我祖父 98  歲了,已經風燭殘年)

附註:這成語字面的意思為一腳已踏進墳墓 (或棺材),即離死不遠了。
 
風水輪流轉
every dog has its/his day
Don't worry, you'll get chosen for the volleyball team. Every dog has its day. (別擔心,你會獲選加入排球隊。風水輪流轉)
You may become famous someday. Every dog has his day. (有朝一日你可能會出名。風水輪流轉)
 
急不可待
champ/chomp at the bit
The kids were champing at the bit to get into the swimming pool. (孩子們急不可待地要進入泳池)
Harry was chomping at the bit, eager to leave. (哈利急不可待,急切地要離開)
 
前途無量
go places
The first time we watched Jeremy Lin play basketball on TV, we knew he would go places. (我們第一次在電視上看林書豪打籃球,就知道他前途無量)
Melissa is such a gifted musician that I always believe she's going places. (馬莉莎是位極有天賦的音樂家,我一直相信她前途無量)
 
風雨無阻
(come) rain or shine
Don't worry. I'll be there come rain or shine. (別擔心。我會到那裡,風雨無阻)
I jog every morning, rain or shine. (我每天早晨慢跑,風雨無阻)
 
前不著村,後不著店
(out) in the middle of nowhere
We spent a wonderful year living on a farm in the middle of nowhere. (我們在一處前不著村,後不著店的農場過了一年美好的時光)
I'll need a map to find that pub - it's out in the middle of nowhere, apparently. (我需要一份地圖來尋找那家夜店 - 顯然地,它地處偏僻,前不著村,後不著店)
We found a nice place to eat, but it's out in the middle of nowhere. (我們發現一處用餐的好地方,但它前不著村,後不著店)
 
活蹦亂跳
alive and well/kicking
My grandfather is 85 years old but he is still alive and well. (我爺爺現在 85 歲,但依然活蹦亂跳)
John was found alive and kicking after five days. (五天後約翰被人找到時還活蹦亂跳的)
 
背水一戰;負隅頑抗
have one's back against/to the wall (亦寫成 with one's back against/to the wall 或 one's back is against/to the wall)
With rising labour costs, industry has its back against the wall. (隨著勞動成本日益升高,企業不得不背水一戰)
When we had our backs to the wall during the battle, everyone had to fight together. (當我們在該戰役中不得不背水一戰時,所有人都必須一起奮戰)
 
相形見絀;黯然失色
put/throw someone/something in/into the shade
Peter's sudden success and fame threw all of us into the shade. (彼得一舉功成名就使我們都相形見絀了)
I thought I'd done quite well, but Allen's exam results put mine in the shade. (我認為我已考得很好,但艾倫的成績讓我的成績黯然失色)
 
首當其衝
bear/take the brunt of
The oldest parts of the capital bore the brunt of the missile attacks. (首都舊城區在飛彈攻擊中首當其衝 / 首都舊城區在飛彈攻擊中災情最為慘重)
It was the town that took the brunt of the recent flooding. (該鎮在最近的澇災中首當其衝 / 該鎮在最近的澇災中災情最為慘重)

附註:
The brunt 意為「受害最嚴重的部分」。

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十畫

旁敲側擊;拐彎抹角
beat about/around the bush
Why should you beat around the bush when asking for higher wages? You deserve more money.
 
茶杯裡的風暴;茶壺裡的風暴;小題大作;大驚小怪
a storm in a teacup; a tempest in a teapot
Although Mr. and Mrs. Wang had an argument last night, It was just a storm in a teacup.
 
害群之馬(團體中的敗類)
a/the bad/rotten apple; black sheep (如果是 "the black sheep of the family",則意為「家庭中的不肖子」)
Most students in the class study hard but there are a few rotten/bad apples. (班上大多數學生都很用功,但有少數害群之馬)
There are quite a few black sheep in the Legislative Yuan. (立法院中有不少敗類)
 
酒肉朋友
a fair-weather friend
I cannot believe that John was a fair-weather friend of mine, because he has promised to help me whenever necessary.
 
借酒澆愁
drown one's sorrows
If I fail my examinations, I'll go and drown my sorrows.
 
骨瘦如柴(瘦得皮包骨)
(as) thin as a rake/lath/stick
He had been ill for several months, and looked as thin as a stick.
 
家醜外揚
wash one's dirty linen in public
Don't wash your dirty linen in public. (家醜不可外揚)
 
海底撈針
look/search/hunt for a needle in a haystack
It's pretty much like looking for a needle in a haystack because these fish are extremely hard to find.
 
差之毫釐,失之千里
A miss is as good as a mile
I've tried to reassure him that he only failed by three percent but the way he sees it, a miss is as good as a mile.
 
留得青山在,不怕沒柴燒
while/where there's life there's hope
The company has survived previous recessions; while there's life there's hope.
 
破口大罵
swear like a trooper
"If you are going to swear like a trooper, I am going away."
 
乘人之危;落井下石
hit a man (or someone) when he's down
Never hit a man when he's down. He may get back up again.
 
栩栩如生;維妙維肖
to the life
She painted me to the life.
The portrait is drawn to the life.
 
唇槍舌劍
cut and thrust
There was a real cut and thrust between them about the game.
 
班門弄斧
teach one's grandmother to suck eggs
He is always telling the director how to run the business; that's like teaching his grandmother to suck eggs.
 
殊途同歸;條條大路通羅馬
all roads lead to Rome
Helen was criticizing the way Jill was planting the flowers. Jill said, never mind, Helen. All roads lead to Rome.
All roads lead to Rome. I believe we will find a way out.
 
挨家挨戶
(from) door to door
He sells dusters (from) door to door.
 
胸懷大志; 抱負遠大
hitch one's wagon to a star (or the stars)
Allen's hitching his wagon to a star--he plans to be an entrepreneur by age thirty.
 
臭氣熏天
stink/smell to high heaven
That fish must be a couple of days old. It stinks to high heaven.
 
泰然自若
(as) cool as a cucumber
Despite the mishap Margaret was cool as a cucumber.
 
挺直腰桿;理直氣壯;昂首闊步
walk tall
If you depend too much upon others you will never be able to walk tall. (如果你過份依賴別人,你就永遠挺不起腰桿來)
We walk tall and the voice is more powerful. (我們理直氣壯,聲音更強有力)
 
害人害己;作繭自縛;作法自斃;自食惡果
be hoist with one's own petard
The criminal was hoist with his own petard when he tried to kill his wife, because he accidently drank the poison that he intended to give to her. (這個罪犯想謀殺他的妻子,但害人反害已,因為他誤喝了他打算給妻子喝的毒藥)
The most enjoyable moment in any action film occurs when the villain is hoist with his own petard. (動作片中最令人雀躍的時刻就是壞人自食惡果的時候)
 
酒好客自來 (貨好無須做廣告)
good wine needs no bush
If it be true that good wine needs no bush, it's true that a good play needs no epilogue. (好酒無須掛招牌,好戲不必收場白)
 
時光倒流:開倒車
turn the clock back; turn back the clock
You are afraid to face up to the future. You are trying to turn the clock back to a time when you were more comfortable. (你不敢面對未來。你試圖使時光倒流,回到你比較風光的時候)
You can never turn the clock back. (時光不能倒流)
 
俯首帖耳;卑躬屈膝
bow/bend the knee
The authorities haven't bowed the knee to the kidnappers. (當局對綁匪一直未俯首帖耳)
The United States will never bend the knee to the terrorists. (美國絕不會對恐怖份子卑躬屈膝)
 
袖手旁觀;按兵不動;無動於衷
sit on one's hands
When I needed help from Helen, she just sat on her hands. (當我需要海倫的幫忙時,她只是袖手旁觀)
We need the cooperation of everyone. You can't sit on your hands! (我們需要每個人的合作。你們不能袖手旁觀、坐視不管啊!)
 
馬耳東風;左耳進右耳出
go in one ear and out the other
Everything I say to you seems to go in one ear and out the other. Why don't you pay attention? (我對你說的每件事似乎都是馬耳東風。你為什麼都心不在焉呢?)
Things my wife says to me just go in one ear and out the other. (我太太對我說的事情都是左耳進右耳出)
 
逆來順受
grin and bear it
I really don't want to spend the whole weekend working but I guess I'll just have to grin and bear it. (我真的不想把整個週末都花在工作上,但也沒有什麼辦法,只好逆來順受)
Bad things keep happening and you just have to learn to grin and bear it. (壞事不斷發生,你只得學著逆來順受)

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