Using One's Spear to Thrust One's Own Shield


Pronunciation: zi(4) xiang(1) mao(2) dun(4)

Explanation: Said of someone's words or action conflict, one who can not justify himself.

Tone: negative

The Story: Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted to sell his spear and shield. He held the spear and said, "My spear is the sharpest one in the world, and it can thrust through any shield no matter how firm the shield is." Then he pointed at his shield and shouted: "It is the firmest, soundest, strongest shield in the world; no spear can thrust through it regardless of how sharp it is."

When onlookers heard this, they couldn't help laughing at him. One of them asked: "You said your spear is the sharpest and your shield is the firmest. How about thrusting your spear through your shield. What will happen then, eh?"

The man was speechless.

Usage Example (Pinyin): Ta(1) yi(2) ding(4) shi(4) ge(4) pian(4) zi, yin(1) wei(4) ta(1) de hua(4) zi(4) xiang(1) mao(2) dun(4).

Usage Example (English translation): He must be a cheat as his words are just like using his spear to thrust his own shield.

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.