Consoling oneself with false hope – Chinese idiom 望梅止渴

Posted by Grace Feng on May 8, 2012

Consoling yourself with false hope - Chinese idiom 望梅止渴Chinese idiom 望梅止渴 wàng méi zhǐ kě means to console oneself with false hope, to satisfy one’s craving by building illusion or daydreams.  means “look at”,  means “plum”, means “stop, quench”,  means “thirst”. This idiom originated from a historical story that is worth telling.

In Dong Hang dynasty, Cao Cao (曹操 Cáo Cāo), a famous general, was leading his army to attack his enemy. While they were marching through some drought areas in a hot summer, soldiers became dehydrated and were craving for water. Cao Cao let the army to have a break and sent a few people to search for water. However, water was nowhere to find.

At that moment, Cao Cao got an idea. He told his soldiers that a plum tree forest in not far ahead. There were big and ripe plums growing on the tree. His soldiers became excited upon hearing the good news. By imagining eating plums in their mind, their mouth were watered with saliva and that motivated them to march even further ahead.

So that story was ended up with soldiers quenching their thirst for water by envisioning themselves eating plums. The idiom is mostly used in a negative way to describe doing nothing but day dreaming.

You can learn how to use the idiom in the following examples:

lǎnduò de tā duì chénggōng chéngtiān kōngxiǎng, wàngméizhǐkě.

懒惰的他对成功成天空想, 望梅止渴.

Being a lazy person, he kept day dreaming of his success to console himself.

[mp3j track=”wang-mei-zhi-ke-e01.mp3″]


rúguǒ zàibù kāishǐ xíngdòng, wǒmen duì cānsài bìng ná jiǎng de yuànwàng zhǐnéng wàngméizhǐkě le.

如果再不开始行动, 我们对参赛并拿奖的愿望只能望梅止渴了.

If we don’t take action now, we can only console ourselves by day dreaming the winning of the competition.

[mp3j track=”wang-mei-zhi-ke-e02.mp3″]


Try to make some sentences by yourself as a practice ….

Good night, my friends!


Related posts:

How to understand and use Chinese expression 顾左右而言它?
Who can call the wind and summon the rain? - Chinese idiom 呼风唤雨
"Wind" and "Shadow" that you shouldn't chase - Chinese idiom 捕风捉影


Category: Chinese idioms

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