指鹿為馬

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See also: 指鹿为马

Chinese[edit]

 
finger; to point; to direct; to indicate
deer
 
because of; for; to; act as; take...to be; to be; to do; to serve as; to become
horse; surname
trad. (指鹿為馬) 鹿
simp. (指鹿为马) 鹿
Literally: “to point to a deer and call it a horse”.

Etymology[edit]

From a story in Xinyu [circa 197 BCE]:

二世鹿
:「丞相何為鹿?」
:「。」
:「丞相鹿。」
:「陛下不然群臣。」
鹿
不能自信邪臣
[Classical Chinese, trad.][▼ expand/hide]
二世鹿
:“丞相何为鹿?”
:“。”
:“丞相鹿。”
:“陛下不然群臣。”
鹿
不能自信邪臣
[Classical Chinese, simp.]
From: Lu Jia, Xinyu (A New Discourse), circa 197 BCE
Qín Èrshì zhī shí, Zhào Gāo jià ér cóng xíng.
Wáng yuē: “Chéngxiàng héwéi jià ?”
Gāo yuē: “ yě.”
Wáng yuē: “Chéngxiàng wù yě, wéi .”
Gāo yuē: “Bìxià yǐ chén yán bùrán, yuàn wèn qúnchén.”
Chén bàn yán , bàn yán .
Dāng cǐ zhī shí, Qín wáng bùnéng zìxìn qí mù, ér cóng xiéchén zhī shuō.
[Pinyin]
During emperor Qin Er Shi’s reign, eunuch Zhao Gao rode a deer on an outing with the emperor.
The emperor said: “Gao, why are you riding a deer?”
Gao said: “(It is) a horse.”
The emperor said: “Gao, you are wrong. You are calling a deer a horse.”
Gao said: “Your Majesty, you are dismissing my words. Please ask the ministers for their opinions.”
(When asked,) half of the ministers said it was a deer, and half said it was a horse.
At this moment, the Qin emperor could not be confident with his eyes, and believed the evil minister’s words.

This story was also mentioned in the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji). In Shiji, the ministers pointed to the animal as deer in order to please the eunuch Zhao Gao, and Zhao was said to have later retaliated on those who referred to it as a horse.

Pronunciation[edit]


Idiom[edit]

指鹿為馬

  1. (figuratively, derogatory) to be a false witness; to deliberately misinterpret and invert right and wrong