Waiting for the one deciding factor while everything else is all set – Chinese idiom 万事具备, 只欠东风

Posted by Grace Feng on May 12, 2012

Waiting for the one deciding factor while everything else is all set - Chinese idiom 万事具备, 只欠东风万事具备, 只欠东风 wàn shì jùbèi, zhǐ qiàn dōng fēng is a very useful Chinese idiom that you can use under lots of circumstances. Basically it means waiting for one crucial condition while everything else is ready. Literally, 万事 means “everything”, 具备 means “ready”,  means “just”,  means “lack of”, 东风 means “east wind”. You might wonder now why “east wind”?

That’s because the idiom itself was originated from a historical story. In the Three Kingdoms years, an important military action was planned. Using fire was considered as the main strategy to destroy the enemy. However, after all prep work was perfectly done in order, the weather did not cooperate. East wind was desired so the fire would spread towards the compounds of the enemy. West wind, on the contrary, would move the fire wall towards the attackers themselves, the result was disastrous.

So at that point of time, the military action planner was anxiously waiting for the east wind. Without east wind, what they’ve planned was simply a failure.

If you’re in a similar situation: everything is all set except one deciding factor, then you can use this Chinese idiom to describe your status: 万事具备, 只欠东风 wàn shì jùbèi, zhǐ qiàn dōng fēng.

Now let’s learn how to use it in real life examples:

qù lǚxíng de xíngli dōu yǐjīng shōushi hǎole, yī ná dào hùzhào, wǒmen jiù kěyǐ chūfā le! wǒmen shì wànshì jùbèi, zhǐqiàndōngfēng ā.

去旅行的行李都已经收拾好了, 一拿到护照, 我们就可以出发了! 我们是万事具备, 只欠东风啊.

The luggages for this trip have all been packed, once we got the passport, we could go! We’ve got everything ready except one.

[mp3j track=”wan-shi-ju-bei-e1.mp3″]


hūnlǐ de yīqiè dōu yǐjīng zhǔnbèihǎole, wànshì jùbèi, zhǐqiàndōngfēng, xīnniáng yī dào jiù kěyǐ kāishǐ le!

婚礼的一切都已经准备好了, 万事具备, 只欠东风, 新娘一到就可以开始了!

The wedding is all ready, everything’s set except the key person, once the bride arrives we can start!

[mp3j track=”wan-shi-ju-bei-e2.mp3″]


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2 Responses to “Waiting for the one deciding factor while everything else is all set – Chinese idiom 万事具备, 只欠东风”

  1. nothing


    06-07-2015 4:25 am

    Great site. I think there is an error in the intro, 东风 means “west wind”. , is it suppose to be east wind?


    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      06-07-2015 6:34 pm

      Good catch, Rick! Don’t know what stuck in my head when I wrote that. :-)

      It’s just udpated, thanks!



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