Chinese Tuesdays: 眼红

Editor’s note: We’re introducing a new feature on the Anthill, in collaboration with Sam Duncan’s blog “Things I Notice While Studying Chinese” (汉语小发现). Every week, Sam will post a language titbit, from an unusual idiom (chengyu) to a netizen-invented character, as one-off quick fixes in between our longer posts. Here’s his latest discovery to kick things off:


In English we say “green with envy” which comes from Shakespeare’s green-eyed monster I guess, but in Chinese people say 眼红 (yǎn hóng), red eyes, to express envy or jealousy ... especially when you are talking about wanting something someone else has.

Interestingly, you can also say 眼睛绿了(yǎn jīng lǜ le), my eyes have become green, to express hunger, amazement, or the desire for something, but without the meaning of envy that 眼红 has.

Check out Sam’s blog for more like this – and check into the Anthill every Tuesday for new posts or gems from his archive. Sam is an English teacher (or “singing dancing ABC-chanting clown” as he puts it) in Dalian, with Chinese relatives in Beijing, where he studied Chinese at BLCU. He has also lived in Korea for over five years, and is learning calligraphy.