Nine Oxen And Two Tigers

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

"九牛二虎" (jiǔ niú èr hǔ) is a classic Chinese idiom with a fascinating story that has inspired many. This idiom vividly portrays the immense strength and determination of individuals facing daunting challenges. Let's explore the story behind it, the lessons it imparts, its meaning, and its modern applications.

The Story of "九牛二虎" (jiǔ niú èr hǔ)

Long ago, in ancient China, there was a great flood that threatened to engulf a village. The villagers needed to dig a canal to divert the water away from their homes. However, the task was colossal, and the people faced 绝望 (jué wàng) despair. It was then that two individuals, a man and a woman, emerged from the crowd. They were known for their exceptional strength and determination. The man was as strong as "九牛" (jiǔ niú), which means "nine oxen," and the woman was as fierce as "二虎" (èr hǔ), meaning "two tigers."

绝望 (jué wàng), noun, despair


  1. He felt despair because he lost his job.
    Tā yīn shīqùle gōngzuò ér gǎndào juéwàng.
  2. In the face of challenges, don't succumb to despair; keep going.
    Miàn duì tiǎozhàn, bùyào xiànrù juéwàng, yào jiānchí xiàqù.


The couple tirelessly dug the canal day and night, working with the determination of nine oxen and the courage of two tigers. Their unwavering efforts inspired the entire village to join them in their mission. Together, they successfully dug the canal, saving the village from the flood. This story teaches us the power of determination, teamwork, and perseverance in the face of 逆境 (nì jìng) adversity.

逆境 (nì jìng), noun, adversity


  1. Facing adversity can be a test of one's character.
    Miànduì nìjìng kěyǐ kǎoyàn yīgè rén de pǐngé.
  2. She overcame adversity with determination and resilience.
    Tā yǐ juéxīn hé rènxìng kèfúle nìjìng.


The idiom "九牛二虎" is often used to describe someone's extraordinary strength, perseverance, or tenacity when overcoming challenges. It represents the idea that with immense effort and determination, one can conquer even the most daunting tasks.

Key Sentences:

  1.  He has the determination of nine oxen and the courage of two tigers.
    Tā yǒu jiǔ niú èr hǔ de yìlì.
  2. This task requires the effort of nine oxen and the courage of two tigers.
    Zhè xiàng rènwù xūyào jiǔ niú èr hǔ de nǔlì.
  3. She displayed the determination of nine oxen and the courage of two tigers to overcome the challenge.
    Tā zhǎnxiàn chūle jiǔ niú èr hǔ de yìlì lái kèfú tiǎozhàn.

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