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塞翁失馬 (Sàiwēngshīmǎ)


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塞翁失馬 - A blessing in disguise

Literal Meaning - Old man Sài lost a horse.

Once upon a time at the edge of the border, there lived 塞翁(Sàiwēng) and his son. They were horse breeders, one day his son took one of the horses out to feed on grass. Sai's son was busy playing so he left his horse alone to feed. Since the place was devoid of any grass, having been ignored by its owner the horse left the boy in search of better areas. Soon after, the boy realized that his horse has gone missing so he rushed home to inform his dad about the ordeal. Sai didn't blame his son for what has happened, instead he consoled his son and said, "Don't worry son, I'm sure the horse will return." The next day, the horse did return and along with it a herd of wild horses. They were delighted and Sai's son said, "It really is a blessing in disguise."

Actually the story didn't end there but since what continued is similar in terms of its meaning so I've decided to omit them to make for a shorter read.


"正所謂『塞翁失馬』, 輸了比賽不一定是壞事. 現在你有時間去做你要做的事"

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I would like to provide another example sentence for this 成语 here:

塞翁失馬, 安知菲富?

literal meaning of 塞翁失馬: the old man lost his horse, but it all turned out for the best (idiom)

figurative meaning: "a blessing in disguise"

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Actually it's "焉知非福" Yān zhī fēi fú.

This idiom's story actually consisted of three parts and the entire idiom consists of sixteen words. As I pointed out the rest of it means the same thing and normally people only need to use "塞翁失馬" to point out the situation. The other twelve words are considered redundant to most people nowadays because they don't add anything to the overall meaning.

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