A Day, Three Autumns-一日三秋 (yī rì sān qiū)

Thursday, November 23, 2023

一日三秋 (yī rì sān qiū) is a Chinese idiom that translates to "One day, three autumns" in English. This evocative phrase is often used to describe a long and painful separation, emphasizing the feeling that time seems to pass incredibly slowly when one is eagerly awaiting something or someone. Let's delve into the Chinese story behind this idiom, explore its everyday usage, and provide some simple sentences to illustrate its meaning.

The Story of 一日三秋 (yī rì sān qiū)

Long ago, in ancient China, there lived a young couple deeply in love, Li Ming and Zhang Hui. They were inseparable, sharing dreams, laughter, and the beauty of each season together. However, fate had other plans for them. Li Ming was drafted into the imperial army and had to leave his beloved Zhang Hui for a distant war-torn land. Parting with tearful goodbyes, they promised to reunite 重逢 (chóng féng) soon, but little did they know that their separation would be more agonizing than they could ever imagine. As the days turned into weeks, and weeks into months, the seasons changed. Yet, for Li Ming and Zhang Hui, time seemed to crawl at an excruciatingly slow pace. Every day felt like an eternity, as they yearned to be reunited. One day, after what felt like an eternity, Li Ming finally returned home. For him, it felt like he had experienced three autumns in a single day—the passage of time had been that painfully slow. Zhang Hui's joy at seeing her beloved Li Ming again was immeasurable, and they cherished every moment they had together.

重逢 (chóng féng), verb, reunite


  1. After years of separation, they finally reunite.
    Jīngguòduōnián de fēnlí,tāmen zhōngyúchóngféng le.
  2. The friends are reunited many years later.
    tā men hěn duō nián hòu cái dé yǐ chónɡ fénɡ.

Everyday Usage

The idiom 一日三秋 (yī rì sān qiū) has become deeply ingrained in the Chinese language and is used in various situations to express the idea of a long, excruciating wait or separation 分离 (fēn lí). People use it when waiting for someone they miss dearly, for an important event, or for good news. It conveys the feeling that time drags on when you're anticipating something eagerly.

分离 (fēn lí), noun, separation


  1. The separation from my family was difficult for me.
    Yǔjiārén de fēnlí duìwǒlái shuōhěn kùnnán
  2. We are about to separate.
    Wǒmen mǎshàng jiùyào fēnlí.

Key Sentences:

  1. Her reply finally arrived, and I felt like one day, three autumns.
    Tāde huíxìn zhōngyúdào lái le,wǒjuéde yīrìsān qiū.
  2. I waited for my friend one day, three autumns.
    Wǒděngdài wǒde péngyǒu yīrìsān qiū.
  3. The feeling of waiting is like one day, three autumns.
    Děngdài de gǎnjuéjiùshìyīrìsān qiū.

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