Chengyu Tuesdays: Marking the Boat

刻舟求剑 kèzhōuqiújiàn – Not adapting to circumstance


刻舟求剑 (kèzhōuqiújiàn) literally means "marking the boat to find the sword", and is used to chide someone who is being foolish, stubborn and generally not considering changing circumstances in their pursuit of something. It's not the most often used chengyu – what is? – but it's one of the ones with a classical Chinese story behind it, albeit of a remarkably stupid person. You can find the original here, and here's a translation from

In the State of Chu, there was a man who loved his sword very much. One day, he accidentally dropped it into the water while crossing a river by boat. He quickly took out his knife and carved a mark in his boat take note of the spot and come back later. When he was by the shore, he jumped into the water where the mark was to find his sword. The boat had moved but the sword hadn’t.