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See also: 南辕北辙

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ChineseEdit

south shafts of cart; yamen north
 
rut; track; to remove; to withdraw
trad. (南轅北轍)
simp. (南辕北辙)
Literally: “south (bound) shafts (of a cart running on) north (bound) ruts (in the road)”.

EtymologyEdit

邯鄲:「太行:『。』:『?』:『。』:『。』:『。』:『。』:『。』『。』霸王天下王國精銳邯鄲。」 [MSC, trad.]
邯郸:“太行:‘。’:‘?’:‘。’:‘。’:‘。’:‘。’:‘。’‘。’霸王天下王国精锐邯郸广。” [MSC, simp.]
From: c. 77 BCE - 6 BCE: Liu Xiang, Zhan Guo Ce, Strategies of Wei, Chapter 4 (戰國策) (Wiktionary translation)
Wèi wáng yù gōng Hándān, Jì Liáng wén zhī, zhōng dào ér fǎn, yī jiāo bù shēn, tóu chén bù qù, wǎng jiàn wáng yuē: “Jīn zhě chén lái, jiàn rén yú Tàixíng, fāng běi miàn ér chí qí jià, gào chén yuē: ‘Wú yù zhī Chǔ.’ Chén yuē: ‘Jūn zhī Chǔ, jiāng xī wèi běi miàn?’ Yuē: ‘Wú mǎ liáng.’ Chén yuē: ‘Mǎ suī liáng, cǐ fēi Chǔ zhī lù yě.’ Yuē: ‘Wú yòng duō.’ Chén yuē: ‘Yòng suī duō, cǐ fēi Chǔ zhī lù yě.’ Yuē: ‘Wú yù zhě shàn.’ ‘cǐ shì zhě yù shàn, ér lí Chǔ yù yuǎn ěr.’ Jīn wáng dòng yù chéng bàwáng, jǔ yù xìn yú tiānxià. Shì wángguó zhī dà, bīng zhī jīngruì, ér gōng Hándān, yǐ guǎng dì zūn míng, wáng zhī dòng yù shù, ér lí wáng yù yuǎn ěr. Yóu zhì Chǔ ér běi xíng yě.” [Pinyin]
The king of Wei was about to attack Handan. Ji Liang heard about it, and turned back in the middle of his journey. He did not straighten the wrinkles in his clothes, nor did he brush the dust off of his head, but went straight to the king. He said, "Today, on the road to the Taihang Mountains, I encountered a man whose carriage was heading north. The man told me, 'I am going to Chu.' I said, 'If you're going to Chu, then why are you facing north?' He said, 'My horse is good.' I said, 'although your horse is good, this is not the road to Chu.' He said, 'I have abundant resources.' I said, 'although you have abundant resources, this is not the road to Chu.' He said, 'My driver is excellent.' I said, 'the better your driver and all the other things, the further from Chu will you be.' At present, the actions of your highness are because you want to become a supreme overlord. Yet, you would like your behavior to be trusted by all under the heavens. Relying on the power of your kingdom and the quality of your soldiers, you attack Handan. In this way, you plan to expand your territories and garner respect for your name. However, the more actions taken by you the king, the further from a king you become. It's akin to traveling north to get to Chu.

PronunciationEdit


IdiomEdit

南轅北轍

  1. to be counterproductive; to run counter to; to work at cross-purposes; to sabotage your own progress; to go off in the wrong direction

Related termsEdit