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《兄弟》 by 余华 (with vocab list)


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Chapter 1 vocab


天开   xiǎngtiānkāi   to imagine the wildest thing / to indulge in fantasy

    jīn   to gold-plate / to gild / (fig.) to make sth quite ordinary seem special

   lěngqīng   cold and cheerless / fig. lonely / unfrequented

   shēn   deep and unmeasurable (idiom); unfathomable depths / incomprehensible / enigmatic and impossible to predict

   kàn   to overlook / to look down from a height

壮丽   zhuànglì   magnificence / magnificent / majestic / glorious

徐徐   xúxú   slowly / gently

   yóu   can't help (doing sth)

   qīn   to look up and see no-one familiar (idiom); not having anyone to rely on / without a friend in the world

相依   xiāngyīwéimìng   mutually dependent for life (idiom); to rely upon one another for survival / interdependent

   juéjiàng   stubborn / obstinate / unbending

感慨 gǎnkǎi to sigh with sorrow, regret etc / rueful / deeply moved

téng rattan / cane / vine

结出 jiēchū to bear (fruit

zhuāhuò to arrest

喃喃 nánnán (onom.) to mutter / to mumble / to murmur

臭气熏天 chòuqìxūntiān overwhelming stench (idiom)

池塘 chítáng pool / pond

一声 yīshēngkēng to not say a word

shēngqín to capture alive

fēiwén sex scandal

chòumíngzhāozhù notorious / infamous / egregious (bandits)

fèn manure / dung

怀 kāihuái to one's heart's content / without restraint

kāiyán to smile / to beam

头禅 kǒutóuchán Zen saying repeated as cant / (fig.) catchphrase / mantra / favorite expression / stock phrase

àokǒu hard to pronounce / awkward-sounding

窃窃 qièqiè to whisper

innocent / innocence / not guilty (law

无其 ruòwúqíshì as if nothing had happened (idiom); calmly / nonchalantl

嘿嘿 hēihēi (onom.) he he / mischievous laughter

guānghuá glossy / sleek / smooth

粗糙 cūcāo crude / gruff / rough / coarse

琳琅 línlángmǎn glittering jewels to delight the eye (idiom) / fig. a dazzling lineup

目不 mùbùxiájiē lit. too much for the eye to take in (idiom); a feast for the eye

róu to knead / to massage / to rub

wān to bend / bent / a bend / a turn (in the road etc) / CL: 

 wall / classifier for walls

liáo to provoke / to tease

驰神 xīnchíshénwǎng one's thoughts fly to a longed-for place or person / to long for / infatuated / fascinated

huǒ lust

熊熊  xióngxióng    raging / flaming

  xūn    to smoke / to fumigate / to assail the nostrils / to perfume

   fèn   muckworm

肉铺   ròupù   butcher's shop

   yān   to salt / to pickle / to cure (meat) / to marinate

   xiánròu   bacon / salt-cured meat

   bēngjǐn   to brace / taut

尾骨   wěigǔ   coccyx / tailbone

砰砰   pēngpēng   (onom.) slam

   yóuyìn   to mimeograph

滔滔   tāotāojué   unceasing torrent (idiom) / talking non-stop / gabbling forty to the dozen

训斥   xùnchì   to reprimand / to rebuke / to berate / stern criticism

画意   shīqínghuàyì   picturesque charm / idyllic appeal / poetic grace

   tián   field / open land / CL: 

   shuǎ   to amuse oneself / to play with / to tease

   wèilán   azure / sky blue

浮云 fúyún floating clouds / fleeting / transient

洁白 jiébái spotlessly white / pure white

冲锋 chōngfēng to charge / to assault / assault

齿 yǎoqièchǐ gnashing one's teeth (idiom); displaying extreme anger / fuming with rage between gritted teeth

to enclose / to cover with the hand (one's eyes, nose or ears) / to cover up (an affair) / contrary / to contradict

jiū to seize / to clutch / to hold tight / to grip

伸张 shēnzhāng to uphold (e.g. justice or virtue) / to promote

正义 zhèngyì justice / righteousness / just / righteous

tuòmo spittle / saliva

to detain in custody

méifēi smiles of exultation / radiant with delight

麻麻 mimámá numerous and close together / densely packed / thickly dotted / thick / dense

jiāfèng crack / crevice

耀 yàoyángwēi to show off one's military strength (idiom); to strut around / to bluff / to bluster

风骚 lǐngfēngsāo most outstanding / par excellence

出风 chūfēngtou to push oneself forward / to seek fame / to be in the limelight

送炭 xuězhōngsòngtàn lit. to send charcoal in snowy weather (idiom) / fig. to provide help in sb's hour of need

笔杆 bǐgǎnzi pen / an effective writer

投桃 tóutáobào toss a peach, get back a plum (idiom); to return a favor / to exchange gifts / Scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours

tuǒdang appropriate / proper / ready

jiūzhèng to correct / to make right

Cáo Xuěqín Cao Xueqin (c. 1715-c. 1764), accepted author of A Dream of Red Mansions

东张西 dōngzhāngxīwàng to look in all directions (idiom) / to glance around

自喻 zìyù to refer to oneself as

造诣 zàoyì academic or artistic attainments / to visit with sb / to call on sb

miànhóng'ěrchì flushed with anger (or excitement)

沫若 Guō Mòruò Guo Moruo (1892-1978), writer, communist party intellectual and cultural apparatchik

威风凛凛 wēifēnglǐnlǐn majestic / awe-inspiring presence / impressive power

控诉 kòngsù to accuse / to denounce / to make a complaint against / denunciation

不厌其烦 bùyànqífán not to mind taking all the trouble (idiom) / to take great pains / to be very patient

敬业 jìngyè to be dedicated to one's work / to respect one's work

chàng to echo one another (idiom)

jiānjiào to screech / to shriek

to sob / to whimper

zhòu to wrinkle / wrinkled / to crease

大笑 hōngtángdàxiào the whole room roaring with laughter (idiom)

tiěqīng ashen

tiějiang blacksmith / ironworker

(onom.) bang / pop / pow

zāidǎo to take a fall

fēijiàn to splash / to spatter

嗡嗡 wēngwēng buzz / drone / hum

dàotiē to lose money instead of being paid (i.e. sb should pay me, but is actually taking my money

兴致 xìngzhì mood / spirits / interest

一拥 yīyōng'érshàng to swarm around / flocking (to see)

shěnwèn to interrogate / to examine / to question

píng ordinary day / everyday / ordinarily / usually

shī No time to lose! (idiom)

jǐnbēng to stretch taut

hǒujiào to howl

心惊 dǎnzhànxīnjīng to tremble with fear (idiom) / scared witless

qiǎoshēng quietly / in a low voice

biē to choke / to stifle / to restrain / to hold back / to hold in (urine) / to hold (one's breath

guài crazy / bizarre / weird / fantastic / strange

mányuàn to complain / to grumble (about) / to reproach / to blame

zhāolǐng to advertise for the owner of lost property

照射 zhàoshè to shine on / to light up / to irradiate

huǎng (of passing time) in an instant / (of a sight) in a flash

shēng stern voice

guǒ to bind / to wrap / a bundle / a parcel

tóujīn head-covering (for men in ancient clothes) / kerchief / scarf / turba

悄悄 qiāoqiāo quietly / secretly / stealthily / quiet / worried / Taiwan pr. [qiao3 qiao3]

随即 suíjí immediately / presently / following which

惊慌 jīnghuāng to panic / to be alarmed

kāi to move away

dǎnqiè timid / cowardly

dǒudòng to tremble

巴巴 liánbābā pathetic / pitiful

一声 yīshēngkēng to not say a word

迷迷糊糊 mímíhūhū in a daze / bewildered

汪汪 lèiwāngwāng tearful / brimming with tears

hūn'àn dusky

襁褓 qiǎngbǎo swaddling clothes / fig. early stage of development / infancy

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Chapter 2


shēnbàimíngliè to lose one's standing / to have one's reputation swept away / a complete defeat and fall from grace

愤愤不 fènfènbùpíng to feel indignant / to feel aggrieved

目不 mùbùzhuǎnjīng unable to take one's eyes off (idiom); to gaze steadily / to stare

比比 bǐbǐjiēshì can be found everywhere

jìn vigorously / energetically / enthusiastically

shǒuyín to masturbate / masturbation

凉鞋 liángxié sandal

qiánshì previous generations / previous incarnation (Buddhism)

a move / an action / in one move / at a stroke / in one g

意味 yìwèishēncháng profound / significant / meaningful

lǒu to hug / to embrace / to hold in one's arms

xiǎngliàng loud and clear / resounding

niē to pinch (with one's fingers) / to knead / to make up

chòumíngzhāozhù notorious / infamous / egregious (bandits)

tiàolóu fig. to sell at a large discount (in advertising)

shuǎimài to mark down (the price of goods) / to sell off cheap

jiǎgōng official authority used for private interests (idiom); to attain private ends by abusing public position

守口如瓶 shǒukǒurúpíng lit. to guard one's mouth like a closed bottle (idiom); tight-lipped / reticent / not breathing a word

shǎngshí to appreciate / to recognize the worth of sth / appreciation

提拔 tíbá to promote to a higher job / to select for promotion

供销 gōngxiāo supply and marketing / distribution / supply and sales

zhǎng section chief / CL: 個|个

见异思迁 jiànyìsīqiān to change at once on seeing sth different (idiom); loving fads and novelty / never satisfied with what one has

miáo to take aim / (fig.) to aim one's looks at / to glance at

zhǎn a small cup / classifier for lamps

成名 gōngchéngmíngjiù to win success and recognition (idiom)

to lament / to complain tearfully / to wail accusingly

niányuè months and year / time / days of one's life

权衡利弊 quánhénglìbì to weigh the pros and cons (idiom)

一失足成 yīshīzúchéngqiānhèn a single slip may cause everlasting sorrow (idiom)

哑口无言 yǎkǒuwúyán dumbstruck and unable to reply (idiom); left speechless / at a loss for words

雄难 yīngxióngnánguòměirénguān even heroes have a weakness for the charms of a beautiful woman (idiom)

wǎn to regret / to feel that it is a great pity / to feel sorry for sb

曹营在汉 shēnzài Cáoyíngxīnzài Hàn live in Cao camp but have the heart in Han camp (idiom.) / to be somewhere while longing to be somewhere else

垂涎 chuíxiánsānchǐ to drool (over) (idiom) / to yearn for / to covet / to crave

gōng qigong, a system of deep breathing exercises

夫妻 shuǐfūqī a couple in a short-lived, improper relationship

迫切 pòqiè urgent / pressing

xiàoliǎnxiāngyíng to welcome sb with a smiling face (idiom)

xiōngzhǎng elder brother / term of respect for a man of about the same age

hua to gesture / to gesticulate

to enlighten / to explain (a text etc) / to stimulate (a mental attitude) / enlightenment / revelation / motivation

zhì birthmark / mole

笑肉不笑 xiàoròubùxiào to put on a fake smile (idiom) / to smile insincerely

贿 xínghuì to bribe / to give bribes

còu to move close to

zhuāngshénnòngguǐ lit. dress up as God, play the devil (idiom); fig. to mystify / to deceive people / to scam

jiāo anxiety / anxious

zhòuméi to frown / to knit one's brow

迟疑 chíyí to hesitate

yángchūnmiàn plain noodles in broth

齿 yǎoqièchǐ gnashing one's teeth (idiom); displaying extreme anger / fuming with rage between gritted teeth

duìzhǔn to aim at / to target / to point at / to be directed at / registration / alignment (mechanical engineering)

shí lit. count by fives and tens (idiom); to narrate systematically and in full detail

嗡嗡 wēngwēng buzz / drone / hum

lǒu to hug / to embrace / to hold in one's arms

ēnuó (of a woman's bearing) graceful / elegant / lithe

guǎiwānjiǎo lit. going round the curves and skirting the corners (idiom) / fig. to speak in a roundabout way / to equivocate / to beat about the bush

直截 zhíjiéliǎodàng direct and plainspoken (idiom); blunt / straightforward

zhòu to curse

yáobǎi to strut / swaggering

kuòlǎo wealthy person / millionaire

duānshàng to serve (food, tea etc)

勃然 bórán suddenly / abruptly / agitatedly / excitedly / vigorously

zhāoshǒu to wave / to beckon

tiěqīng ashen

无其 ruòwúqíshì as if nothing had happened (idiom); calmly / nonchalantly

miànhuángshòu yellow face, emaciated body (idiom); malnourished and sickly in appearance

fèn'é share / portion

山珍 shānzhēnhǎiwèi exotic delicacies / luxury foodstuff from distant locations

zhé twists and turns

nong to fool / to deceive

细致 xìzhì delicate / fine / careful / meticulous / painstaking

jīngmíng astute / shrewd

shìgu sophisticated / worldly-wise

qīng to adore / to admire greatly

破绽 pòzhàn hole or tear in cloth / mistake or gap in a speech or theory

to narrow one's eyes / to squint / (dialect) to take a nap

chōngjǐng to long for / to look forward to / longing / vision for the future

颜无 hòuyánwúchǐ shameless

健忘 jiànwàng forgetful

入化 chūshénrùhuà to reach perfection (idiom); a superb artistic achievement

有所 ruòyǒusuǒ looking pensive / thoughtfully

chū discrepancy / inconsistent

shéncǎifēiyáng in high spirits (idiom); glowing with health and vigor

洋洋 yángyáng joyfully satisfied / to be immensely proud of oneself / proudly / an air of complacency

xiōng chest

虔诚 qiánchéng pious / devout / sincere

过客 guòkè passing traveler / transient guest / sojourner

zāi to grow / to plant

乘凉 chéngliáng to cool off in the shade

jué to dig

  Du Fu (712-770), great Tang dynasty poet

字字 zìzìzhū every word a gem (idiom); magnificent writing

zhōng'ài to treasure / to be very fond of

lǎoliàn seasoned / experienced

不屑 bùxiè to disdain to do sth / to think sth not worth doing / to feel it beneath one's dignity

大悟 huǎngrándàwù to suddenly realize / to suddenly see the light

并茂 shēngqíngbìngmào (of a singer etc) excellent in voice and expression (idiom)

tōng to make no sense / to be illogical

zhǔréngōng hero (of a novel or film) / main protagonist

gǎn'ēndài deeply grateful

gǎixiéguīzhèng to mend one's ways (idiom) / to turn over a new leaf

zhǎndīngjiétiě lit. to chop the nail and slice the iron (idiom) / fig. resolute and decisive / unhesitating / categorical

jǐnbēng to stretch taut

chichi (onom.) rapid breathing

chénjìn to soak / to permeate / to immerse

chóuchàng melancholy / depression

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Chapter 3


pánshān to walk unsteadily / to stagger / to lurch / to hobble / to totter

绰号 chuòhào nickname

蓬蓬 luànpēngpēng disheveled / tangled

zhèngzōng orthodox school / fig. traditional / old school / authentic / genuine

wèi for this reason 

晃晃 mínghuǎnghuǎng shining / bright

míngchuán lit. name is not in vain (idiom); a fully justified reputation / enjoys a well-deserved reputation

huòzhēnjiàshí genuine goods at fair prices

péiběn loss / to sustain losses

hǎo to seem / to be like

qīngbái pure / innocent

innocent / innocence / not guilty (law)

téngkōng to soar / to rise high into the air

梦寐 mèngmèiqiú to yearn for sth even in one's dreams (idiom) / to long for sth day and night

shèn to seep / to ooze / to horrify

qiào to stick up / to point sth up

全神贯注 quánshénguànzhù to concentrate one's attention completely (idiom) / with rapt attention

jiāng slurry / mud

继父 jìfù stepfather

zāi to fall head first

麻麻 mimámá numerous and close together / densely packed / thickly dotted / thick / dense

jiàn to splash

zhīliǎo cicada (onom.) - insect

to hunger for sth (idiom); eagerly / to long for sth

juǎn to engulf / to sweep / to carry away everything

wénxùn to receive news (of)

lāo to fish up / to dredge up

rán firmly / resolutely / without hesitation

màinong to show off / to make a display of

zuǐzi lit. lips / fig. glib talk

fèn muckworm

tán to flick / to flip

da goose pimples / goose bumps

niē to pinch (with one's fingers) / to knead / to make up

to enclose / to cover with the hand (one's eyes, nose or ears) / to cover up (an affair) / contrary / to contradict

魁梧 kuíwú tall and sturdy

hōngdòng to cause a sensation / to create a stir in (a place) / commotion / controversy

guānshǎng to look at sth with pleasure / to watch (sth marvelous) / ornamental

浩浩荡荡 hàohàodàngdàng grandiose / majestic

wāixié crooked / askew / oblique / slanting / out of plumb

如其来 rúqílái to arise abruptly / to arrive suddenly / happening suddenly

remains (of a dead person)

rán stupefied

zhěntào pillowcase

xiù to embroider / embroidery

wéilǒng to crowd around

to enjoy sth and never tire of it (idiom)

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Chapter 4


màncháng very long / endless

piāntóutòng migraine

guǒ to bind / to wrap / a bundle / a parcel

隐隐 yǐnyǐn faint / indistinct

时常 shícháng often / frequently

敲击 qiāojī to pound / to rap

qīngcuì sharp and clear / crisp / melodious / ringing / tinkling / silvery (of sound) / fragile / frail

mokugyo / wooden fish (percussion instrument)

志不 shénzhìbùqīng to be delirious / to be mentally confused

cǎnbái deathly pale

战战兢兢 zhànzhànjīngjīng trembling with fear / with fear and trepidation

zhā to prick / to run or stick (a needle etc) into / jug (a classifier for liquids such as beer)

chàn to tremble / to shiver / to shake / to vibrate / Taiwan pr. [zhan4]

sāo to reel silk from cocoons

西 yángjìng (old) peep show / (fig.) hanky-panky / trickery

没头没 méitóuméiliǎn lit. without head, without face (idiom) / fig. frenzily / haphazardly

zǎi child / young animal

yǒu intentionally or otherwise

hóngrùn ruddy / rosy / florid

腮帮 sāibāngzi cheek

fèng gap between teeth

shēnyín to moan / to groan

灿烂 cànlàn to glitter / brilliant / splendid

jiǎojié shining clean / bright (moonlight)

沐浴 mùyù to take a bath / to bathe / to immerse

chuī to brush / to caress (of breeze) / to praise

níngshì to gaze at / to fix one's eyes on

yǒngzhǐjìng without end / never-ending

荡漾 dàngyàng to ripple / to undulate

shùshāo the tip of a tree / treetop

yínghuǒchóng firefly / glowworm / lightning bug

fēixiáng to circle in the air / to soar

to move up and down / to undulate / ups and downs

wàng as far as the eye can see (idiom)

yóu can't help (doing sth)

壮丽 zhuànglì magnificence / magnificent / majestic / glorious

áng to lift / to raise / to raise one's head / high / high spirits / soaring / expensive

流连 liúliánwàngfǎn to linger / to remain enjoying oneself and forget to go home

寂静 jìjìng quiet

臭气熏天 chòuqìxūntiān overwhelming stench (idiom)

身躯 shēnqū body

dǎngzhù to obstruct

tuóbèi hunchbacked / stooping / hunchback

撞撞 diēdiezhuàngzhuàng to stagger along

tuó hump or hunchbacked / camel

咯咯 gēgēxiào chuckle

熙熙攘攘 xīxīrǎngrǎng bustling with activity (idiom)

hóngliàng loud and clear / resonant

guāncai coffin / CL: 

兴致勃勃 xìngzhìbóbó to become exhilarated (idiom); in high spirits / full of zest

dié to fold / to fold over in layers / to furl / to layer / to pile up / to repeat / to duplicate

zhuàng classifier for buildings

pánchan money for a voyage / travel expenses

duōsuo to tremble / to shiver / uncontrolled shaking of the body

chūbìn funeral / funeral procession

shǒuhòu to wait for / to expect / to keep watch / to watch over / to nurse

手巧 xīnlíngshǒuqiǎo capable / clever / dexterous

bǎnchē handcart / flatbed cart / flatbed tricycle

嘎吱 gāzhī (onom.) creak / crunch

to weep

to sob / to whimper

shì to overlook / to look down at

迟疑 chíyí to hesitate

xué tomb / grave

嚎啕 háotáo to wail / to bawl (idiom)

chǎn to shovel / to remove / spade / shovel

熊熊 xióngxióng raging / flaming

ránshāo to ignite / to combust / to burn / combustion / flaming

li swift / agile / efficient / quick-witted (colloquial)

shuǐgāng water jar

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Chapter 5


啪啦 lipālā (onom.) to crackle and rattle / to pitter-patter

层叠 céngdié layer upon layer / tiered

脏话连篇 a bunch of nonsense / verbose and rambling

唾沫 tuòmòxīngzi sputter

liáorào to curl up / to linger on (sound)

咯咯 gēgēxiào chuckle

huá comical / funny / amusing

耀 yàoyǎn to dazzle / dazzling

kòulán slam dunk

xiào to whistle / to scream / to whiz

jiānxiào evil smile / sinister smile

yín excess / excessive / wanton / lewd / lascivious / obscene / depraved

sānpiàn third category movie (containing sexual or violent content)

兴致勃勃 xìngzhìbóbó to become exhilarated (idiom); in high spirits / full of zest

大悟 huǎngrándàwù to suddenly realize / to suddenly see the light