拍马屁 (pāi mǎ pì)

Description
Example

In this lesson, we are going to learn a new word - 拍马屁. 拍 means “to pat”; 马 is “horse” and “屁” means “butt”. So, literally 拍马屁 means “to pat on one’s butt”.

In China’s Yuan Dynasty, herders took great pride in raising horse. When horse herders encountered one another, they would often pat the butts of the other’s horse and say, “What a good horse!” to fawn on the owner of the horse.

At first, people only praised truly good horse, but soon people began to do so to flatter others, regardless of whether the herder’s horse was good or bad, strong or weak. So now “拍马屁” is widely used as an analogy to ridicule blatant flattery that is meant to kiss up someone without regard for objective reality.

In Chinese, we say “拍马屁” directly. We also say “拍…的马屁”, which means “to kiss up to someone”. For example, “kissing up to a teacher” can be translated as “拍老师的马屁”.

Example 1

tā shànyú pāimǎpì, suǒyǐ lǎobǎn hěn xǐhuɑn tā.

他善于拍马屁,所以老板很喜欢他。

He is good at kissing up, so his boss likes him a lot.

Example 2

māmɑ, nǐ jīntiān zhēn piàoliɑnɡ!

B: 妈妈,你今天真漂亮!

Mom, you are so beautiful today!

bié pāi wǒde mǎpì, nǐ jīntiān bìxū zuò jiāwù!

B: 别拍我的马屁,你今天必须做家务!

Don’t kiss up to me. You must do the housework today!

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