As the picture on this page shows, I’m not talking about a PDA device but rather the edible blackberry, 黑莓 (hēi méi), which is now in season here. The summer air is filled with the sweet aroma of the luscious berries that are waiting to be picked and popped into the mouth. If one is not careful, one will pay the price of being pricked or scratched by the thorny brier.
As we have discussed previously, 刺 (cì) means a thorn. As a verb, it means to pierce or poke into something.
Wǒ de hēi méi cì le.
My thumb got jabbed.
The sting of a bee or a wasp is called 蜂刺 (fēngcì). Fishbones are called 鱼刺 (yúcì). Not surprisingly, a hedgehog is called 刺猬 (cìwèi).
刺痛 (cìtòng) means a tingle. As a verb it means to hurt by stabbing with a small pointed object like a needle.
Other things can sting without making physical contact with you.
Ear-piercing sounds or harsh words may be described as 刺耳 (cìěr grating on the ear). And things that are offending to the eye are said to be 刺眼 (cìyǎn) or 不顺眼 (bù shùnyǎn).
Tā shuō de huà jù jù cìěr.
Every sentence he uttered grated on my ear.
As an exercise, try making a sentence in Chinese that translates to: “His words stabbed my heart.”
A biting wind is often described as 刺骨 (cìgǔ piercing to the bones).
刺激 (cìjī) means to stimulate, to provoke or to upset.
Bùyào zài cìjī tā le.
Stop irritating him.
You may wonder why in the above sentence there is not a Chinese word for stopping. In Chinese, instead of asking someone to stop doing something, you would normally just request that someone to not continue the action. Therefore, this is how you would ask someone to stop weeping:
Bùyào zài kū le.
刺杀 (cìshā) means to assassinate. The assassin is called 刺客 (cìkè).
刺绣 (cìxiù) is to embroider using a needle with a sharp point. As a noun, it refers to an embroidered article, which is also called 刺绣品 (cìxiùpǐn).
As 刺 (cì) means to pierce or to poke, it makes sense that making roundabout or secret inquiries is referred to as 刺探 (cìtàn). And it also makes sense that 讽刺 (fěngcì to mock or satirize) also contains the 刺 (cì) character.
Now, take a look at the character 剌 (là). If you look closely, you will see it is slightly different from 刺 (cì) – the little rectangle is closed off and does not have spikes poking down.
剌 (là) means obstinate, pompous or disrespectful, as in 大剌剌 (dà là là with a swagger).
A word that sounds like 剌 (là) but is much more commonly used is
辣 (là), or 辛辣 (xīnlà), means spicy hot, pungent, biting or ruthless.
辣椒 (làjiāo) are hot peppers, and 辣酱 (làjiàng) is a hot chili sauce or a hot chili paste.
A woman who is unreasonable, shrewish and attacks people with pungent words would be described as 潑辣 (pōlà).
Tā de qīzi shì gè pōlà de nǚrén
His wife is a shrew.