畫蛇添足

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See also: 画蛇添足

Chinese[edit]

draw; picture; painting snake; serpent to add; to increase; to replenish foot; to be sufficient
trad. (畫蛇添足)
simp. (画蛇添足)
Literally: “to add feet when drawing a snake”.

Etymology[edit]

From Annals of the Warring States:

卮酒相謂:「不足有餘飲酒。」左手:「。」:「?」 [Classical Chinese, trad.][▼ expand/hide]
卮酒相谓:“不足有余饮酒。”左手:“。”:“?” [Classical Chinese, simp.]
From: Zhan Guo Ce, circa 5th – 3rd centuries BCE
Chǔ yǒu cí zhě, cì qí shè rén zhījiǔ, shè rén xiāngwèi yuē: “Shù rén yǐn zhī bùzú, yī rén yǐn zhī yǒuyú, qǐng huà dì wéi shé, xiān chéng zhě yǐnjiǔ.” Yī rén shé xiān chéng, yǐn jiǔ qiě yǐn zhī, nǎi zuǒshǒu chí zhī, yòu shǒu huà shé yuē: “Wú néng wéi zhī .” Wèi chéng, yī rén zhī shé chéng, duó qí zhī yuē: “Shé gù wú , zǐ ān néng wéi zhī ?” Suì yǐn qí jiǔ. Wéi shé zhě, zhōng wáng qí jiǔ. [Pinyin]
Once, there was a host of a sacrificial ceremony in Chu. After the sacrificial ceremony, he carried a jug of wine to the people as a reward.
The people there discussed with each other, saying: “This jug of wine is not enough for all of us to drink, but if one drinks the wine, then he will leave some wine in the jug. We'll all draw a snake on the ground, with the one who draws the fastest getting the wine.”
One man finished first and grabbed the wine jug. Holding the jug of wine in his left hand, he said: “I can draw feet for the snake.” and started drawing the feet with his right hand.
Before he had finished drawing the feet, another man finished drawing his snake, snatched the wine and said: "A snake (actually) has no feet, how can you draw feet on a snake?" Then, he drank the wine. The one who added feet to the snake never got the wine.

Pronunciation[edit]


Idiom[edit]

畫蛇添足

  1. (figuratively, pejorative) to improve something unnecessarily; to gild the lily

Descendants[edit]

Sino-Xenic (畫蛇添足):