一窮二白

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Chinese[edit]

 
one; single; a; (before verbs) as soon as, once; (before a noun) entire (family, etc.)
exhausted; poor two
 
white; empty; blank; bright; clear; plain; pure; gratuitous
trad. (一窮二白)
simp. (一穷二白)

Etymology[edit]

Possibly from On the Ten Major Relationships, a speech delivered by Mao Zedong in 1956 on the socialist construction of the People's Republic of China.

曾經我們」,」。「」,就是沒有多少工業農業不發達。「」,就是白紙文化水平科學水平 [MSC, trad.][▼ expand/hide]
曾经我们”,”。“”,就是没有多少工业农业不发达。“”,就是白纸文化水平科学水平 [MSC, simp.]
From: 1956, 毛澤東 (Mao Zedong), 論十大關係 (On the Ten Major Relationships), 毛澤東選集·第五卷》 (Selected Works of Mao Zedong: Volume V) (1977). English translation based on the Foreign Languages Press edition
Wǒ céngjīng shuō guò, wǒmen wéi “qióng”, èr wéi “bái”. “Qióng”, jiùshì méiyǒu duōshao gōngyè, nóngyè yě bù fādá. “Bái”, jiùshì yī zhāng báizhǐ, wénhuà shuǐpíng, kēxué shuǐpíng dōu bù gāo. [Pinyin]
As I have said elsewhere, we are first “poor” and second “blank”. By “poor” I mean we do not have much industry and our agriculture is underdeveloped. By “blank” I mean we are like a blank sheet of paper and our cultural and scientific level is not high.

Pronunciation[edit]


Idiom[edit]

一窮二白

  1. poor and blank; economically impoverished and culturally backward