Horse horse tiger tiger – mamahuhu


This is a wonderful Chinese word I’ve just learnt – mamahuhu.

It translates literally as “horse horse tiger tiger” but what it means is “so-so”.

I’ve been given several reasons for the origin of this expression, but the one I like best goes something like this:

Way back in pre-historic times an artistic caveman drew an animal on the wall of the cave with some charcoal. His fellow cavemen were very impressed, and one of them said ‘what a wonderful picture of a horse, so realistic’ but another said ‘whaddya mean a horse, look at it, it’s obviously a tiger’ and a heated discussion began with some shouting ‘horse, horse’ and others shouting ‘tiger, tiger’. After the row had gone on for some time they all decided it wasn’t that good a picture after all because they couldn’t decide if it was a horse or tiger,  in fact as pictures went it was only so-so.

Well it makes a nice story anyway….and because of it I won’t forget the word.

About herschelian

Recently moved to Beijing from London - its all new to me! Trying to learn Chinese, and what makes this city tick.
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2 Responses to Horse horse tiger tiger – mamahuhu

  1. Kit says:

    Lovely story! My oldest child is the Chinese Year of the Tiger and youngest the Year of the Horse, so I started off thinking it would be something to do with that. Love the painting of the horse!

  2. Lilia says:

    Yeah, it’s a very famous painting by 徐悲鸿。

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