Every Chengyu You Need to Know in HSK 6 (List of 111 成语)

In English there are many idioms that are used in everyday life. For example “Spill the Beans”, “The Elephant in the Room”, and “Hold your horses” etc., As you can imagine, there are many of these in Chinese (as many as 20,000 in some dictionaries).

There are 5,000 official/stringent Chengyus 成语.

There are no Chengyus in HSK 1-5.  But there are only 111 Chengyus on the HSK 6 list. These are the ones you really need to learn. The good news is that there are only a few that have stories you need to know. The others are metaphors, but the majority can be understood just by understanding the characters directly.

Have a look at this list below, and if you can learn and understand these, then you’ll be able to handle every Chengyu in the HSK.

Of course we suggest you check the links at the end to find out some of the Chengyus with interesting stories.

HSK6 idioms (from HSK 6 Vocab list). English definitions from CC-CEDICT.

Idioms

东张西望 (dōngzhāngxīwàng)
to look in all directions (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

一举两得 (yījǔliǎngdé)
one move, two gains (idiom); two birds with one stone
BaikeJukuuYabla

南辕北辙 (nányuánběizhé)
to act in a way that defeats one’s purpose (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

丢三落四 (diūsānlàsì)
forgetful
BaikeJukuuYabla

千方百计 (qiānfāngbǎijì)
lit. thousand ways, a hundred plans (idiom); by every possible means
BaikeJukuuYabla

吞吞吐吐 (tūntūntǔtǔ)
to hum and haw (idiom); to mumble as if hiding sth
BaikeJukuuYabla

家喻户晓 (jiāyùhùxiǎo)
understood by everyone (idiom); well known
BaikeJukuuYabla

新陈代谢 (xīnchéndàixiè)
metabolism (biology); the new replaces the old (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

一丝不苟 (yīsībùgǒu)
not one thread loose (idiom); strictly according to the rules
BaikeJukuuYabla

川流不息 (chuānliúbùxī)
the stream flows without stopping (idiom); unending flow
BaikeJukuuYabla

一帆风顺 (yīfānfēngshùn)
propitious wind throughout the journey (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

悬崖峭壁 (xuányáqiàobì)
sheer cliffs and precipitous rock faces (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

拔苗助长 (bámiáozhùzhǎng)
to spoil things through excessive enthusiasm (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

斩钉截铁 (zhǎndīngjiétiě)
lit. to chop the nail and slice the iron (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

根深蒂固 (gēnshēndìgù)
deep-rooted (problem etc)
BaikeJukuuYabla

滔滔不绝 (tāotāobùjué)
unceasing torrent (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

狼吞虎咽 (lángtūnhǔyàn)
to wolf down one’s food (idiom); to devour ravenously
BaikeJukuuYabla

画蛇添足 (huàshétiānzú)
lit. draw legs on a snake (idiom); fig. to ruin the effect by adding sth superfluous
BaikeJukuuYabla

锦上添花 (jǐnshàngtiānhuā)
lit. on brocade, add flowers (idiom); to decorate sth already perfect
BaikeJukuuYabla

雪上加霜 (xuěshàngjiāshuāng)
to add hail to snow (idiom); one disaster on top of another
BaikeJukuuYabla

鸦雀无声 (yāquèwúshēng)
lit. crow and peacock make no sound; absolute silence (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

不可思议 (bùkěsīyì)
inconceivable (idiom); unimaginable (can’t imagine)
BaikeJukuuYabla

一目了然 (yīmùliǎorán)
obvious at a glance (idiom)  – English Equivalent – “An open book”
BaikeJukuuYabla

不屑一顾 (bùxièyīgù)
to disdain as beneath contempt (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

不择手段 (bùzéshǒuduàn)
by fair means or foul
BaikeJukuuYabla

不相上下 (bùxiāngshàngxià)
equally matched
BaikeJukuuYabla

不言而喻 (bùyánéryù)
it goes without saying
BaikeJukuuYabla

与日俱增 (yǔrìjùzēng)
to increase steadily
BaikeJukuuYabla

举世瞩目 (jǔshìzhǔmù)
to receive worldwide attention
BaikeJukuuYabla

举足轻重 (jǔzúqīngzhòng)

to play a critical role (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

争先恐后 (zhēngxiānkǒnghòu)
striving to be first and fearing to be last (idiom); outdoing one another
BaikeJukuuYabla

任重道远 (rènzhòngdàoyuǎn)
a heavy load and a long road
BaikeJukuuYabla

众所周知 (zhòngsuǒzhōuzhī)
as everyone knows (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

优胜劣汰 (yōushèngliètài)
survival of the fittest (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

侃侃而谈 (kǎnkǎnértán)
to speak frankly with assurance
BaikeJukuuYabla

供不应求 (gōngbùyìngqiú)
supply does not meet demand
BaikeJukuuYabla

兢兢业业 (jīngjīngyèyè)
cautious and conscientious
BaikeJukuuYabla

全力以赴 (quánlìyǐfù)
to do at all costs
BaikeJukuuYabla

兴致勃勃 (xìngzhìbóbó)
to become exhilarated (idiom); in high spirits
BaikeJukuuYabla

兴高采烈 (xìnggāocǎiliè)
happy and excited (idiom)
兴高采烈,喜不自胜 English: “Walking on Sunshine”
BaikeJukuuYabla

再接再厉 (zàijiēzàilì)
to continue the struggle (idiom); to persist
BaikeJukuuYabla

刻不容缓 (kèbùrónghuǎn)
to brook no delay
BaikeJukuuYabla

力所能及 (lìsuǒnéngjí)
as far as one’s capabilities extend (idiom); to the best of one’s ability
BaikeJukuuYabla

半途而废 (bàntú’érfèi)
to give up halfway (idiom); leave sth unfinished
BaikeJukuuYabla

一如既往 (yīrújìwǎng)
just as in the past (idiom); as before
BaikeJukuuYabla

博大精深 (bódàjīngshēn)
wide-ranging and profound
BaikeJukuuYabla

各抒己见 (gèshūjǐjiàn)
everyone gives their own view
BaikeJukuuYabla

名副其实 (míngfùqíshí)
not just in name only, but also in reality (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

后顾之忧 (hòugùzhīyōu)
fears of trouble in the rear (idiom); family worries (obstructing freedom of action)
BaikeJukuuYabla

喜闻乐见 (xǐwénlèjiàn)
to love to hear and see (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

天伦之乐 (tiānlúnzhīlè) (relation with heaven)
family love and joy
BaikeJukuuYabla

实事求是 (shíshìqiúshì)
to seek truth from facts (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

小心翼翼 (xiǎoxīnyìyì)
cautious and solemn (idiom); very carefully
BaikeJukuuYabla

岂有此理 (qǐyǒucǐlǐ)
how can this be so? (idiom); preposterous
BaikeJukuuYabla

废寝忘食 (fèiqǐnwàngshí)
to neglect sleep and forget about food (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

归根到底 (guīgēndàodǐ)
after all
BaikeJukuuYabla

当务之急 (dāngwùzhījí)
top priority job
BaikeJukuuYabla

得不偿失 (débùchángshī)
the gains do not make up for the losses (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

得天独厚 (détiāndúhòu)
blessed by heaven (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

循序渐进 (xúnxùjiànjìn)
in sequence, step by step (idiom); to make steady progress incrementally
BaikeJukuuYabla

心甘情愿 (xīngānqíngyuàn)
delighted to (do sth, idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

急于求成 (jíyúqiúchéng)
anxious for quick results (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

急功近利 (jígōngjìnlì)
seeking instant benefit (idiom); shortsighted vision, looking only for fast return
BaikeJukuuYabla

总而言之 (zǒng’éryánzhī)
in short
BaikeJukuuYabla

恍然大悟 (huǎngrándàwù)
to suddenly realize
BaikeJukuuYabla

恰到好处 (qiàdàohǎochù)
it’s just perfect
BaikeJukuuYabla

想方设法 (xiǎngfāngshèfǎ)
to think up every possible method (idiom); to devise ways and means
BaikeJukuuYabla

无动于衷 (wúdòngyúzhōng)
aloof
BaikeJukuuYabla

无微不至 (wúwēibùzhì)
in every possible way (idiom); meticulous (The devil is in the detail)
BaikeJukuuYabla

无忧无虑 (wúyōuwúlǜ)
carefree and without worries (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

无理取闹 (wúlǐqǔnào)
to make trouble without reason (idiom); to be deliberately provocative
BaikeJukuuYabla

无精打采 (wújīngdǎcǎi)
dispirited and downcast (idiom); listless
BaikeJukuuYabla

无能为力 (wúnéngwéilì)
impotent (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

日新月异 (rìxīnyuèyì)
daily renewal, monthly change (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

有条不紊 (yǒutiáobùwěn)
regular and thorough (idiom); methodically arranged
BaikeJukuuYabla

朝气蓬勃 (zhāoqìpéngbó)
full of youthful energy (idiom); vigorous
BaikeJukuuYabla

欣欣向荣 (xīnxīnxiàngróng)
(idiom) flourishing
BaikeJukuuYabla

津津有味 (jīnjīnyǒuwèi)
with keen interest pleasure (idiom); with gusto
BaikeJukuuYabla

深情厚谊 (shēnqínghòuyì)
deep friendship
BaikeJukuuYabla

潜移默化 (qiányímòhuà)
imperceptible influence
BaikeJukuuYabla

热泪盈眶 (rèlèiyíngkuàng)
eyes brimming with tears of excitement (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

爱不释手 (àibùshìshǒu)
to love sth too much to part with it (idiom); to fondle admiringly
BaikeJukuuYabla

物美价廉 (wùměijiàlián)
good quality and cheap
BaikeJukuuYabla

理所当然 (lǐsuǒdāngrán)
as it should be by rights (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

理直气壮 (lǐzhíqìzhuàng)
in the right and self-confident (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

相辅相成 (xiāngfǔxiāngchéng)
to complement one another (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

知足常乐 (zhīzúchánglè)
satisfied with what one has (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

礼尚往来 (lǐshàngwǎnglái)
lit. proper behavior is based on reciprocity (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

称心如意 (chènxīnrúyì)
after one’s heart (idiom); gratifying and satisfactory
BaikeJukuuYabla

竭尽全力 (jiéjìnquánlì)
to spare no effort (idiom); to do one’s utmost
BaikeJukuuYabla

精打细算 (jīngdǎxìsuàn)
meticulous planning and careful accounting (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

精益求精 (jīngyìqiújīng)
to perfect sth that is already outstanding (idiom); constantly improving
BaikeJukuuYabla

统筹兼顾 (tǒngchóujiāngù)
an overall plan taking into account all factors
BaikeJukuuYabla

  1. 聚精会神 (jùjīnghuìshén)
    to concentrate one’s attention (idiom)
    BaikeJukuuYabla

肆无忌惮 (sìwújìdàn)
absolutely unrestrained
BaikeJukuuYabla

自力更生 (zìlìgēngshēng)
regeneration through one’s own effort (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

苦尽甘来 (kǔjìngānlái)
bitterness finishes, sweetness begins (idiom); the hard times are over, the good times just beginning
BaikeJukuuYabla

莫名其妙 (mòmíngqímiào)
(idiom) baffling / unable to speak out the subtleties within. Explanation here.
BaikeJukuuYabla

见义勇为 (jiànyìyǒngwéi)
to see what is right and act courageously (idiom, from Analects)
BaikeJukuuYabla

见多识广 (jiànduōshìguǎng)
experienced and knowledgeable (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

迄今为止 (qìjīnwéizhǐ)
so far
BaikeJukuuYabla

迫不及待 (pòbùjídài)
impatient (idiom); in a hurry
BaikeJukuuYabla

锲而不舍 (qiè’érbùshě)
to chip away at a task and not abandon it (idiom); to chisel away at sth
BaikeJukuuYabla

难能可贵 (nánnéngkěguì)
rare and precious
BaikeJukuuYabla

风土人情 (fēngtǔrénqíng)
local conditions and customs (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

饱经沧桑 (bǎojīngcāngsāng)
having lived through many changes
BaikeJukuuYabla

齐心协力 (qíxīnxiélì)
to work with a common purpose (idiom); to make concerted efforts
BaikeJukuuYabla

层出不穷 (céngchūbùqióng)
more and more emerge (come out one after another)
BaikeJukuuYabla

无穷无尽 (wúqióngwújìn)
endless
BaikeJukuuYabla

络绎不绝 (luòyìbùjué)
continuously; in an endless stream (idiom)
BaikeJukuuYabla

Not counted: 二氧化碳 (carbon dioxide), 公共汽车 (bus), 名胜古迹 (historical sites), 微不足道 (negligible), 烟花爆竹 (firecrackers), 电子邮件 (email), 高速公路 (expressway), 通货膨胀 (inflation), 飞禽走兽 (birds and animals), 讨价还价 (haggle over price).

Others

There are 5000+ chengyus and there are lots more interesting Chengyus with interesting stories.

Check out the links below:
– Fluentu Chengyus
– Carl Gene
– 5 Common Chengyus
– TravelChinaCheaper

Founder and CEO at China Admissions. Originally from UK🇬🇧, based in Beijing. Studied at Peking University & BLCU. Preparing for HSK 6. Hope we can help more talented international students have the same amazing experiences and opportunities that I have had
Richard Coward

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