Learn Chinese word radical – Rain

Snow 雪 (xuě)

Snow 雪 (xuě)

We have discussed the Chinese character for rain, (yǔ), a few times before. This character, featuring four drops of water, also serves as a word radical that is employed in words involving precipitation or moisture in the air. As you know, one advantage of being able to recognizing a word radical is that you will only need to learn the remaining part in a new word.

As with many other natural elements, the words containing the rain radical are often used in phrases associated with human nature.

We will start with a simple character, (xuě snow).

Nǐ huì huáxuě ma?
Do you know how to ski?

(xuě) is also used as a verb in the idiom 报仇雪耻 (bàochóuxuěchǐ), which means to take revenge and wipe out a humiliation.

(tàn) is charcoal. (sòng) means to give or to deliver. The idiom 雪中送炭 (xuězhōngsòngtàn providing charcoal in snowy weather) means to offer needed help and be “a friend indeed”.

(shuāng) is frost. 雪上加霜 (xuěshàngjiāshuāng), means to have frost added on top of snow, to have one disaster after another, or to add insult to injury.

(bīng) is ice. 冰雹 (bīngbáo) are hailstones. Some one who is really aloof might be described as being icy. The following comment is often bestowed on strikingly beautiful women who give their admirers the cold shoulder.

艳若桃李, 冷若冰霜.
Yàn ruò táo lǐ, lěng ruò bīng shuāng.
Gorgeous as peach and plum blossoms, but cold as ice and frost.

(léi) is thunder, which often strikes a field when it rains. 地雷 (dìléi) are land mines.

雷声大,雨点小. (léishēngdà,yǔdiǎnxiǎo) literally translates to “loud thunder but tiny raindrops”. This idiom implies that much is proclaimed but followed by little action.

暴跳如雷 (bàotiàorúléi) and 大发雷霆 (dàfāléitíng) both mean flying into a rage.

他听了这话, 暴跳如雷.
Tā tīng le zhè huà, bàotiàorúléi.
After hearing these words, he flew off the handle.

如雷贯耳 (rúléiguàněr) literally translates to “like thunder piercing the ears”, but this idiom is used for complimenting a person on his or her colossal reputation, implying that everyone is praising that person and the clamor fills the ear like thunder.

(lù) as a noun means dew. 雨露 (yǔlù rain and dew) often refers to grace and bounty.

(ní) is the secondary rainbow. What is the primary raindow called in Chinese?

We learned before that 晚霞 (wǎnxiá) is the evening glow at sunset.

(zhèn) means to shake or shock, or to be greatly shocked, as in 震惊 (zhènjīng). 地震 (dìzhèn) is an earthquake.

他听了这消息, 十分震惊.
Tā tīng le zhè xiāoxi, shífēn zhènjīng.
He was shocked to hear this piece of news.

(méi) is mildew. 发霉 (fāméi) is to become moldy.
倒霉 (dǎoméi), on the other hand, means to have bad luck.

今天又碰到他. 倒霉!
Jīntiān yòu pèng dào tā. Dǎoméi!
I ran into him again today. Just my luck!

The proper word for “tough luck” is 倒楣 (dǎoméi). However, 倒霉 (dǎoméi) has been so widely used that it has won legitimacy. Either way you write it, it’s not a happy word.

下雪天, 走路开车都要当心.
Xià xuě tiān, zǒulù kāichē dōu yào dāngxīn,
In snowy weather, walk and drive carefully.

For a short discussion of other weather conditions please see Chapter 22 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes“.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mecklybver
    Dec 11, 2013 @ 06:42:46



    • likeabridge
      Dec 11, 2013 @ 13:43:55

      Thanks for mentioning this line. The popular quote, “讀萬卷書, 行萬里路”, is to encourage people to read widely and travel extensively to gain knowledge and experience. This saying has been rephrased and expanded to emphasize the importance of enlightenment. If you are at the higher intermediate or advanced Chinese level, you might enjoy reading the write-up at this link.


  2. keithy
    Dec 15, 2013 @ 10:22:47

    I found 周曉農’s answer very sensible and logical. One phrase which I’m not clear on is 鋪墊手法. What sort of style is he referring to?


    • likeabridge
      Dec 15, 2013 @ 14:36:07

      铺垫 (pūdiàn) as an object means bedding.

      铺垫手法 is a literary device that employs comparisons, contrasts or foreshadowing to support or bring out the main point.

      “读万卷书不如行万里路,行万里路不如阅人无数,阅人无数不如名家指路,名师指路不如自己领悟.” is one example in which you are led step by step via comparisons to the final conclusion. Each activity mentioned is very helpful for one’s self improvement. Stringing them together in progressive importance confers the more power to the point made. Note also the parallelism and the rhyming of all the sentences, which add to the effectiveness of this line.


  3. keithy
    Dec 15, 2013 @ 17:01:32

    Yes, I did notice the last character in each line rhymes. For the next line, how about 自己領悟不如為人幫助.
    My thinking is that the pursuit of enlightenment is a noble path however how can this knowledge be made useful? One way is, of course, to teach other people what you have learned.


    • likeabridge
      Dec 15, 2013 @ 21:28:23

      Bravo Keithy!

      I would change “為人幫助” to “予人幫助”
      为 (wèi) means “for” as in doing things for other people – “為人做事”.
      Here, “幫助” is a noun, something you can give to people.
      予 (yǔ) means to give, same as 给 (gěi) but is more literary, therefore more elegant.
      Actually, “幫助” is a general term for helping. I think what you mean is “自己領悟不如助人領悟”.

      I’m with you on this, and we should be thankful for the availability of the Internet for making this all possible.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: