Chinese words involving the horse



No, we are not yet done with talking about (mǎ horses).

马脚 (mǎjiǎo) are the horse’s legs. This word also refers to something that gives the game away, as in 露出马脚 (lùchūmǎjiǎo accidentally reveal one’s ulterior motives).

Tā zhōngyú lùchūmǎjiǎo lái le.
He finally gave the show away.

马蹄 (mǎti) are the horse’s hooves. This term is an alternative name for water chestnuts because they are hard as horse’s hooves. 马蹄铁 (mǎtitiě) is a horseshoe or a horseshoe magnet.

马尾 (mǎ wěi) is a horse’s tail. This term also refers to the ponytail hairstyle.

马鞍 (mǎān) is a saddle.

上马 (shàngmǎ) is to get on a horse, or to start a project. 下马 (xiàmǎ) is to dismount from a horse, or to stop a project.

威风 (wēifēng) means power and authority, or being awe-inspiring. When a new officer arrives and assumes duty, he may act extra harsh towards his subordinates to assert his authority. This show of power is referred to as 下马威 (xiàmǎwēi).

马上 (mǎshàng) is an adverb that means right away, at once or immediately. So, if your wife is urging you to do the dishes after dinner (this, of course, will never happen in a traditional Chinese family) when your eyes are riveted to the football game on the TV, you could holler back:

Wǒ mǎshàng jiù lái!
I’m coming!

马车 (mǎchē) is a horse-drawn carriage, and 马鞭 (mǎbiān) is a horsewhip.

人马 (rénmǎ) are troops, and 马队 (mǎduì) is a cavalry or a caravan.

Firing after the horse is called 马后炮 (mǎhòupào), which refers to a belated action or advice.

Fàng zhè mǎhòupào yǒu shénme yòng?
What’s the use giving this advice in hindsight?

In a game of Chinese chess, 马后炮 (mǎhòupào) is actually a very powerful placement of pieces, with the “cannon” (which can jump over another piece) positioned immediately behind a “horse”. When the “general” or “commander” is thus cornered, the game is basically over. Therefore, this term could also be construed as referring to the hopeless situation

牛马 (niúmǎ oxen and horses) are beasts of burden. It also refers to workers engaged in hard labor.

Tā gānxīn wèi tā de háizǐ men zuò niú zuò mǎ.
He willingly toils for the sake of his children.

马球 (mǎqiú) is the game of polo.

马戏团 (mǎxìtuán) is a circus.

赛马 (sàimǎ) is a horse race.

Finally, there is 马铃薯 (mǎlíngshǔ potato), which reminds me of the pot of stew cooking on the stove. Potatoes are also called 洋芋 (yángyù foreign taro). This may be a good time to review the names of food items in the Chapter 20 of the “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” book.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. eman
    Feb 19, 2014 @ 01:49:07

    i tried to learn this langues it,s not easy i hope to learn it


    • likeabridge
      Feb 19, 2014 @ 14:31:17

      You are right. Chinese is not an easy language to learn. Come to think of it, it’s not that easy to learn any foreign language if you did not grow up with it. I hope you will be able to design an effective “plan of attack” and go for it. I think it helps if there is an incentive for learning the new language. As they say, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”


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