In Warring States period (about 1500 years ago), Zhao kingdom was under beseiged by Qing kingdom. The King of Zhao assigned Duke Ping Yuan Jun to bring the best 20 of his staff to to their allies Chu kingdom to ask for assistance. Ping yuan Jun picked 19 people but still have one vacancy. At that time, a guy named Mao Sui volunteered to go. Ping Yuan Jun didn’t approve, he said:” Of all the three years you stayed with my staff, I’ve never heard anything special about you. Sorry I can’t pick you. Talented people should be like a sharp tool in your pocket, it’s sharp end is bound to stick out.”
Mao Sui answered, “If I didn’t stick out that’s because I haven’t let you to put me into your pocket. If you give me a chance, you will see my very sharp end. ” Ping Yuan Jun thought about his words and decided to give him a chance.
After they arrived in Chu kingdom, none of the 19 people were able to persuade the King of Chu, only Mao Sui was able to manage an intimidating negotiation with King of Chu and persuaded him to send force to help Chu in the war with Qing.
Since then this story of 脱颖而出 tuō yǐng’ér chū became a well-known Chinese idiom to be handed down the history. Literally, 脱 means “come out, become loose”, 颖 means “the handle”, 而出 means “come out”. The whole idiom literally means “the sharp end sticks out”. It is used to describe the phenomenon that outstanding people stand out from the crowd.
If you are persistent and pay enough effort on your Chinese language, one day you’ll 脱颖而出 tuō yǐng’ér chū as well.
Now let’s learn how to use it from the following examples:
jìnrù xīn xuéxiào hòu, tā de biǎoyǎn cáinéng hěn kuài jiù tuōyǐng’érchū, zài gèzhǒng wényì huódòngzhōng chéngwéi dàjiā guānzhù de jiāodiǎn.
进入新学校后, 她的表演才能很快就脱颖而出, 在各种文艺活动中成为大家关注的焦点.
After she entered the new school, her performance talent stood out soon. It helped her to become the focus in all kinds of shows.
zài zhège yóu jīngyīng zǔchéng de bùmén lǐ, yào xiǎng tuōyǐng’érchū zhēn bùshì yī jiàn róngyì de shì.
In this elite department, it’s not an easy thing to stand out.