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按圖索驥 (Àntúsuǒjì)


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按圖索驥 (Àntúsuǒjì) - Sticks to procedure, inflexible.

                              - Locate something based on pictures.

按圖 (Àntú) - According to pictures, 索驥 (suǒjì) - Search for great horse. (Ji means horse of good breed)

During the Spring and Autumn Period, there lived a man famous for his ability to look for good horse breeds named 伯樂 (Bólè). Bólè has a son who is very dumb. One day, Bólè decided to teach his son his skills and gave a book about horses to his son. He asked his son to look for a good horse based on the pictures in the book. His son set out to look for a horse and he found it, that's what he thought initially. He brought the "horse" back and showed it to his father. When his father saw it he was surprised to see that the "horse" that his son brought home was actually a frog. His son claimed that the frog had all the characteristics of a marvelous horse just like what were stated in the book.

按圖索驥 (Àntúsuǒjì) has two meanings: one is to say that a person that only knows how to stick to rules and procedures. The other is to describe someone looking for something based on pictures.


"你每一件事都是跟著規矩去做, 「按圖索驥」是不行的, 要會變通."

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Thank you for providing this neat little story.

In Pleco, this 成语 has three different meanings:

1. Meaning : look for a steed wit the aid of its picture

2. try to find sth. by following up a clue

3. deal with (or handle) a matter in a mechanical way.

Therefore, also both of the meanings you are mentioned are included in those 3 definitions about 安圖索驥。

Especially the last character is interesting. I have never seen it before. Must be a quite rare character I guess (驥). So you said it is used for horses of good breed? Guess that must be a pretty old character then :=)

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