A Chinese idiom that is used on a crowd – 争先恐后

Posted by Grace Feng on March 15, 2012

A Chinese idiom that is used on a crowd - 争先恐后A crowd that fight their way to be the first, being afraid to be left behind is the exact picture that Chinese idiom 争先恐后 zhēng xiān kǒng hòu depicts. Literally it’s very easy to comprehend too: 争先 means “fight to be the first”;  恐后 means “be afraid to be the last”.

This idiom can only be used on a situation that involves two or more people. It doesn’t make sense to use it if there is only one person in the context.

This idiom is actually not a verb, it can only be used as an adjective or adverb. You can see how it is used in the following examples:

xiǎoxuéshēng men zhēngxiānkǒnghòu dì cóng jiàoshì lǐ pǎo chūlái.


Elementary school students rushed out from their classrooms, striving to be the first.

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yīnwèi guǎnggào zuò dé hǎo, rénmen zhēngxiānkǒnghòu dì gòumǎi zhèzhǒng bǎojiàn shípǐn.

因为广告做得好, 人们争先恐后地购买这种保健食品.

Due to the good job of the advertisement, people are competing each other to buy this health food.

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Now it’s your turn to practice using the idiom in your own conversations and writings. Have fun, my friends!


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Category: Chinese idioms

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