三更燈火五更雞

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Chinese[edit]

third watch; midnight lights the five watches of the night; fifth watch fowl; chicken
trad. (三更燈火五更雞) 三更 燈火 五更
simp. (三更灯火五更鸡) 三更 灯火 五更
Literally: “Third watch with lamp light and fifth watch as the rooster crows”.

Etymology[edit]

From the Tang poem “An Exhortation to Learning” (勸學):

三更燈火五更雞正是男兒讀書黑髮不知白首讀書 [MSC, trad.][▼ expand/hide]
三更灯火五更鸡正是男儿读书黑发不知白首读书 [MSC, simp.]
From: Tang Dynasty, Yan Zhenqing, “An Exhortation to Learning” (勸學)
Sāngēng dēnghuǒ wǔgēng jī, zhèngshì nán'ér dúshū shí. Hēifà bùzhī qín xué zǎo, báishǒu fāng huǐ dúshū chí. [Pinyin]
Third watch (~ 11 p.m.) with lamp light and fifth watch (~ 5 a.m.) as the rooster crows,
Are the best time for a boy to study.
If one does not study hard while his hairs are still dark,
he will regret for studying late when his hairs turn grey.

Pronunciation[edit]


Idiom[edit]

三更燈火五更雞

  1. to burn the midnight oil, only to get up at the crack of dawn
  2. to work long hours
  3. to burn one's candle at both ends