See also: hien, hiên, hiến, hiển, Hiển, and hiện

Vietnamese edit

Etymology edit

Sino-Vietnamese word from (wise; virtuous). According to Nguyễn Quốc Hùng's Hán Việt tân từ điển (New Sino-Vietnamese Dictionary):

Rất tài giỏi — Có tài năng và đức độ — Tốt đẹp — Không phải là hiền lành theo nghĩa Việt Nam
Excellent - Highly talented and virtuous - Glorious - Not like hiền lành (mild-mannered) in Vietnamese usage

The semantic bleaching from "wise/virtuous" to "mild" probably comes from expressions relating to wifehood and motherhood, such as Chinese 賢母贤母 (wise mother) > Vietnamese mẹ hiền (kind mother). Compare phrases such as Chinese 賢妻良母贤妻良母 (hiền thê lương mẫu, a wise wife and a good mother) and Japanese 良妻賢母 (ryōsai kenbo, lương thê hiền mẫu, a good wife and a wise mother). This term has compounded with other words and morphemes which did not suffer this kind of semantic bleaching, such as lành (from Chinese (lương)) in hiền lành, and Chinese (từ) in hiền từ.

Pronunciation edit

Adjective edit

hiền

  1. (archaic) wise, virtuous and respectable
    người hiềna person of virtue
  2. (of people, especially women) good-natured
    mẹ/vợ/dâu hiền
    a good mother/wife/daughter-in-law
  3. gentle; meek; mild; mild-mannered
    Synonym: lành
    hiền như nai (tơ)as gentle as a fawn
    hiền như ma xơas gentle as a nun.
    Đừng lo, thằng đó hiền lắm.
    Don't worry, he's not the violent type.
  4. (Southern Vietnam) innocuous; harmless; nutritious
  5. (Southern Vietnam, euphemistic) ingenuous to a fault
    Em hiền quá à! Vậy thì sao có bồ được?
    You're too ingenuous! How would you ever get a girlfriend?

Derived terms edit