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January 19, 2007

Chinese Idiom of the Day #3 : 指鹿为马

指鹿为马 - Zhi Lu Wei Ma

Literal Meaning - Point (at) Deer as horse.

Figurative Meaning - Calling a stag a horse

Western Equivalent - Calling black white.  

Story behind idiom:

In the Qin Dynasty, the prime minister, Zhao Gao, plotted to usurp the throne. Fearing that the other ministers would oppose this, he though of a way of testing them. He presented a deer to the emperor, and said, "This is a horse." The emperor laughed and said, "You must be joking; this is a deer." Then Zhao Gao asked the ministers present. Some kept silent, some said that it was a deer, and others agreed that it was a horse.

Later Zhao Gao had all the ministers who had not said that it was a horse killed.

This metaphor describes distorting facts by calling white black. 


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