All entries for Sunday 21 January 2007

January 21, 2007

Chinese Idiom of the Day #5 : 盲人摸象

盲人摸象 - Mang Ren Mo Xiang

Literal Meaning - Blind Men Touch Elephant

Figurative Meaning - Take a part for the whole

A group of blind men gathered around an elephant, trying to find out what the creature looked like. One of them happened to touch one of the tusks, and said: "An elephant is just like a turnip." Another touched one of the elephant's ears, and said, "It is like a big fan." One put his arms around one of the beast's legs, and said: "It is like a column." One who happened to place his hands on the body of the elephant said, "It is like a wall." But the one who got hold of the tail said, "It is like a snake." They then fell to arguing with each other.

This idiom is used to satirize those who know only a part of a thing and not the entirety or essence.  


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