If you want to get the snake, don’t hit the grass – Chinese idiom 打草惊蛇

There are some Chinese idioms that can explain themselves very well via the condense four characters without further explanation. Chinese idiom 打草惊蛇 dǎ cǎo jīng shé is such an example. 打草 dǎ cǎo, hit the grass, 惊蛇 jīng shé, disturb the snake. The meaning can be logically derived: if you wanna catch the snake, then don’t hit the grass to make the snake alerted.

This idiom describes premature actions that put enemy on guard. It’s always used to warn people not to expose their real purpose too early before the good timing comes when they’re fully prepared to confront their enemy.

You’ll learn how to use it in the following examples:

nǐ xiànzài jiù dào tāmen gōngsī qù gōngkāi diàochá, yīdìng huì dǎcǎojīngshé de.

你现在就到他们公司去公开调查, 一定会打草惊蛇的.

If you go to publicly investigate their company now, they’ll be alerted.


zhǐyǒu ràng dú fàn jìxù tāmen de jiāoyì, cái bùhuì dǎcǎojīngshé.

只有让毒犯继续他们的交易, 才不会打草惊蛇.

only if we let the drug dealers to continue their business, they won’t suspect.

2. da-cao-jing-she-e2

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