指鹿为马 [zhǐ lù wéi mǎ]

 

指鹿为马 [zhǐ lù wéi mǎ]

 

The original meaning is to point to a deer and say it is a horse, which is a metaphor to purposely reverse black and white and confuse good and evil. It is generally used as a predicate, object or definite article in a sentence, with a pejorative meaning.

Story related to the expression:

When Qin Shi Huang was ill and died in 210 BC, the eunuch Zhao Gao, who did not wish Qin Shi Huang's eldest son Fusu to succeed him, helped Qin Shi Huang's youngest son Hu Hai to become emperor. Afterwards, Zhao Gao was not satisfied and wanted to become emperor himself. He was also worried that the civil and military officials were not convinced, thus he thought of a trick to experiment first.

 

One day, Zhao Gao took advantage of the ministers' pilgrimage to Hu Hai to bring him a deer and offered it to him, saying, "This is a horse that I dedicate especially to Your Majesty."

 

Hu Hai looked at it, but it was clearly a deer, how could Zhao Gao say it was a horse? Then he smiled and said, "You made a mistake, didn't you? This is a deer, how can you say it's a horse?"

 

Zhao Gao ignored Hu Hai's words and asked the ministers in a serious voice, "Tell me, is it a deer or a horse?".

 

Some of the ministers were afraid of Zhao Gao's power and dared not make a sound; others, to please Zhao Gao, said flatteringly; "You are right, this is definitely a horse, I even had such a horse a few years ago!" Others, unwilling to go against their conscience, bluntly said; "It's a deer, not a horse!".

 

Believing that those who spoke the truth were unwilling to submit to his orders, Zhao Gao would impose all sorts of charges on them or have them expelled from the court or killed.

 

Sentences with 指鹿为马:

 

  1. 指鹿为马是领导干部的大忌。

"Pointing to a deer and saying it's a horse" is something that should not be practiced among leaders.

 

  1. 做事要实事求是,不要指鹿为马。

Be realistic in what you do and don't point at deer and say it's a horse.

 

                                                      

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