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朝三暮四 (Zhāosānmùsì)


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朝三暮四 (Zhāosānmùsì) original meaning - to cheat people with tricks

                                  modern meaning - constantly changing

朝三 - morning three, 暮四 - evening four

A story originated from ZhuangZi. It's a story during the Warring States, in the Kingdom of Sung there once lived a keeper that reared monkeys. One day the keeper saw that the monkeys were wasting food by throwing the walnuts like toys. So the keeper came up with a rule; three walnuts for breakfast and four walnuts for dinner. This was of course at the ire of the monkeys so the monkeys sent out their elder to negotiate with the keeper to increase the quantity for breakfast. The keeper switched the rule to four walnuts for breakfast and three walnuts for dinner after much negotiations. The monkeys thought that they have succeeded since they now have four walnuts for breakfast but never thought that dinner had decreased to three.

朝三暮四 (Zhāosānmùsì) used to be for describing how a person cheats with dirty tricks but after thousands of years the meaning has been changed to something to describe people that are inconsistent

Classic example:

"你好聰明, 懂得用「朝三暮四」這一招來騙他"

Modern example:

"你這個卑鄙小人, 「朝三暮四」說喜歡我又去跟他鬼混!"


朝三暮四 (Zhāosānmùsì) and 朝秦暮楚 (Zhāoqínmùchǔ) both share the same meaning in modern usage.

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