Chinese idioms that follow the AABB pattern (3)

Don’t you just love these fun Chinese idioms? I know you can’t have enough of them. So, here are a few more descriptive phrases that you could learn and keep handy. Applied appropriately, these phrases will make you sound more authentic and less bookish.

迷迷糊糊 (mímíhūhū) means befuddled or being in a state of confusion.

我那时迷迷糊糊, 不知道自己说了什么.
Wǒ nàshí mímíhūhū, bù zhīdào zìjǐ shuō le shénme.
At that time I was in a daze and didn’t know what I was saying.

疯疯颠颠 (fēngfēngdiāndiān) is to behave like an insane person. This phrase is often used to describe a flighty or crazy behavior

别这样疯疯颠颠的.
Bié zhèyàng fēngfēngdiāndiān de.
Stop acting like a lunatic.

急急忙忙 (jíjímángmáng hurriedly) and 匆匆忙忙 (cōngcōngmángmáng hastily) are opposite to 慢慢腾腾 (mànmànténgténg unhurriedly).

他急急忙忙赶回家去.
Tā jíjímángmáng gǎnhuíjiā qù.
He hurried home.

慌慌张张 (huānghuāngzhāngzhāng) means being flustered and doing things chaotically or haphazardly.

他慌慌张张地穿上衣服.
Tā huānghuāngzhāngzhāng de chuān shàng yīfu.
He put on his clothes haphazardly.

密密麻麻 (mìmìmámá) means close and numerous; thickly dotted.

那张纸上印着密密麻麻的文字.
Nèi zhāng zhǐ shàng yìn zhe mìmìmámá de wénzì.
That sheet of paper was crammed with closely printed text.

地地道道 (dìdìdàodào) means authentic, genuine, or to the core.

这是地地道道的茅台酒.
Zhè shì dìdìdàodào de máotáijiǔ.
This is genuine Maotai (a famous Chinese liquor).

Many other four-character Chinese phrases are in popular use but have not attained the status of an official idiom. These are usually descriptive words that are uttered in the AABB pattern for emphasis. We could call them pseudo-idioms.

For example, 清楚 (qīngchǔ) means clear or clearly.

我已经清清楚楚地告诉了他.
Wǒ yǐjīng qīng qīng chǔ chǔ de gàosù le tā.
I’ve already told him plain and clear.

实在 (shízai) as an adverb means “truly”, such as in “He is truly careless.” As a description of a person or an item, it means being substantial, stable and solid.

他是个实实在在的人.
Tā shì gè shí shí zai zai de rén.
He is a down-to-earth person.

孤单 (gūdān) means lonely or alone.

他孤孤单单地住在那儿.
Tā gū gū dān dān de zhù zài nàr.
He lives there all by himself.

懒散 (lǎnsǎn) means sluggish or indolent.

他整天懒懒散散的.
Tā zhěngtiān lǎn lǎn sǎn sǎn de.
He dawdles the whole day.

弯曲 (wānqū) means zigzagged or curvy.

那条山路弯弯曲曲的.
Nèi tiáo shānlù wān wān qū qū de.
That mountain road meanders.

If you have a favorite Chinese idiom or pseudo-idiom in the AABB pattern, why not put it in a comment to share with everyone?

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Thomas Doherty
    Jul 31, 2013 @ 23:36:03

    那条山路弯弯曲曲的.
    Nèi tiáo shānlù wān wān qū qū de.
    That strip of mountain road meanders.
    “ghat meaders” does not make much sense to me.

    Reply

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