More Chinese expressions involving the hand

If you haven’t already found out, hand shadows are called 手影 (shǒu yǐng) in Chinese.
(yǐng) is a shadow, a reflection or an image. Nowadays, it is used in such words as 摄影 (shèyǐng photography) and 电影 (diànyǐng movies).

This may be a good time to take inventory of how many words, expressions or idioms you already know that contain the (shǒu) character. Here are a few more to add to your collection.

手背 (shǒubèi) is the back of the hand, while 手掌 (shǒuzhǎng) is the palm. The center of the palm is called 手心 (shǒuxīn) or 掌心 (zhǎngxīn).

We already know that 拍手 (pāishǒu) means to clap one’s hands. 鼓掌 (gǔzhǎng) has the same meaning but is a more formal word.

手下留情 (shǒuxiàliúqíng) means to show mercy or be lenient. In times past, when a Chinese house slave was about to be whipped, he might use this phrase to plead for mercy. Nowadays, this expression is used figuratively.

The expression 手下 (shǒuxià) also means under the leadership of someone.

Tā shǒuxià yǒu sān wèi nénggàn de jīnglǐ.
He has under him three capable managers.

经理 (jīnglǐ) are managers, while 助手 (zhùshǒu) are assistants.

歌手 (gēshǒu) are singers. They probably prefer to be referred to as 歌星 (gē xīng music stars, pop stars).

高手 (gāoshǒu) is an expert or champion. Therefore, 武林高手 (wǔ lín gāoshǒu) is a kung-fu master. 数学高手 (shùxué gāoshǒu) is someone who is great at mathematics. You can easily form other terms by inserting the subject of your choice.

手机 (shǒujī) are mobile phones, 手表 (shǒubiǎo) are wrist watches, and 手电筒 (shǒudiàntǒng) are flashlights.

手枪 (shǒuqiāng) are pistols, while 枪手 (qiāngshǒu) are gunners.

We have learned before that 运气 (yùnqi) means one’s fortune or luck. Well, 手气 (shǒuqì) is one’s luck in a game of cards or gambling.

Tā jīntiān shǒuqì bùhǎo.
He has poor hands today.

亲手 (qīnshǒu) means making something personally.

Zhè jiàn qúnzi shì wǒ mǔqin qīnshǒu zuò gěi wǒ de.
My mother made this skirt for me herself.

The Chinese don’t stick their noses in other people’s business. Nay. They go in with their hands. 插手 (chāshǒu) means to have a hand in someone else’s business.

Zhè jiàn shì nǐ zuìhào bùyào chāshǒu.
It would be best if you don’t get involved with this matter.

(huò) means merchandise or goods. What would 二手货 (èrshǒuhuò) mean?


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