Maybe it’s the summer, but I’ve got love…and love-making on my mind.
So let’s talk about sex, baby…in Chinese. The language has some splendid idioms on the subject — here are three of my favorites. And who knows? Maybe a little talk about what goes on beside your pillows might turn into a little pillow talk after all.
干柴烈火 (gānchái lièhuǒ)
You know them, those couples or newlyweds who just “can’t keep their hands off each other,” who really need to get a hotel room. Well, imagine the passion that gets ignited between these guys behind closed doors, the sparks that fly. That’s the idea behind this idiom, which means literally “raging fire and dry wood,” but is really about a couple caught in incredible passion.
When this pair of young lovers first slept together, it was like a raging fire and dry wood, burning with passion.
zhèduì xiǎoqíngrén dìyīcì shàngchuáng jiùxiàng gānchái lièhuǒ，jīqíng ránshāo.
男欢女爱 (nánhuān nǚài)
For couples, at its best, sex can offer some serious fun. That’s the heart of this idiom, which literally says “man happy, woman love” and means “a couple enjoying themselves sexually.” Let’s just hope that enjoyment is yours — and not your neighbor’s (see example).
Our neighbors are college students. At night we always hear them enjoying themselves sexually, and it really makes us envious.
Wǒmen de línjū shì dàxuéshēng；wǎnshang jīngcháng tīngdào tāmen nánhuān nǚài, ràngrén dùjì.
巫山云雨 (wūshān yúnyǔ)
Arguably one of the most classic Chinese idioms to describe sex — with a pretty cool story behind it. Supposedly, there once was a King Chuhuai who traveled to a spot on the Yangtze River with scenery named “Rainclouds over Wushan.” He fell asleep and dreamt of a fairy woman who said she was from Wushan. Then she “offered him her pillow and mat,” which King Chuhuai realized meant a lot more than just sharing bedding. After they truly enjoyed themselves, the Wushan woman told him, if you ever want to find her, just remember Wushan — clouds in the morning, rain in the evening.
The idiom is literally “Rainclouds over Wushan,” just like the name for the scenery. But if you drop it in a sentence, I guarantee you that people won’t be thinking of tourism on the Yangtze.
A couple of lovers came out of a hotel as if they were walking on air; one look and we knew they had just had sex inside.
Yíduì qínglǚ cóng lǚguǎn chūláile，piāopiāorán de yàngzi，yíkàn jiù zhīdào tāmen zài lǐmiàn wūshān yúnyǔle.
What are your favorite Chinese idioms for talking about sex?