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to break; to judge; absolutely; decidedly
crane continue; replenish wild duck; to swim
trad. (斷鶴續鳧)
simp. (断鹤续凫)
variant forms 續鳧斷鶴续凫断鹤
Literally: “to shorten the legs of a crane and lengthen those of a wild duck”.


From the book Zhuangzi:

有餘不足是故 [Classical Chinese, trad.][▼ expand/hide]
有余不足是故 [Classical Chinese, simp.]
From: Zhuangzi, circa 3rd – 2nd centuries BCE
Cháng zhě bù wéi yǒuyú, duǎn zhě bù wéi bùzú, shìgù jìng suī duǎn, zhī zé yōu, jìng suī cháng, duàn zhī zé bēi. [Pinyin]
What is long should not be considered too long, nor what is short too short. A duck's legs, for instance, are short, but if we try to lengthen them, it occasions pain; and a crane's legs are long, but if we try to cut off a portion of them, it produces grief.




  1. (figuratively) to go against nature