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A Goat in Tiger's Skin (also known as 'An Ass in a Lion's Skin')


Pronunciation: yang(2) zhi(4) hu(3) pi(2)

Explanation: Said of a person who looks strong on the outside, but is timid inside

Tone: Negative

The Story: A goat once found a tiger's skin in the woods. It placed the tiger' skin on its body and strutted around the woods. But when he saw some tender grass, it began to eat as usual.

One day, it saw a wolf coming towards him. Forgetting that it was wearing in the tiger's skin, the goat fled as fast as it could. After all, the goat never forgot it was actually a goat.

Usage Example (Pinyin): Ji(4) shi(4) ni(3) zai(4) gei(3) ta(1) zhuang(1) bei(4) liang(3) ba(3) qiang(1), ta(1) hai(2) shi(4) hai(4) pa(4). Zhe(4) jiu(4) xiang(4) yang(2) zhi(4) hu(3) pi(2).

Usage Example (English translation): Even if you equipped him with 2 more guns, he will still feel fearful and like 'a goat in tiger's skin'.

Note: The spoken Chinese Mandarin language has 4 spoken tones. We have attempted to re-create those above where after each syllable we tell you (1), (2), (3), or (4) as they correspond to each of the 4 tones. We encourage you to complement your Chinese Idioms newsletter with a good offline study program.