ChengYu: 自相矛盾 Meaning

Ru-Ping Chen | January 15, 2016 | | 0 Comments


Traditional: 自相矛盾

Simplified: 自相矛盾

Pinyin: zì xiāng máo dùn


自相: mutual; each other

矛盾: contradiction

Individuals typically use this idiom to describe contradictions. The 矛 (máo) comes from 矛盾, which means spear. The 盾 (dùn) comes from 盾牌 which means shield.


One day as a man walked through the market, he heard a salesman selling spears and shields. The salesman said, “No spear in the world can pierce my shields!” Right after, the salesman said, “No shield in the world can block the strength of my spears!” The man asked the salesman, “What would happen if I used your spear to stab your shield? What would happen then?”

The salesman did not know how to answer the man’s question. From then on, people have used 自相矛盾 to describe a person who exaggerates the severity of a situation or a person who tells a story that contradicts itself.


  1. 他说的话总自相矛盾,令我半疑半信。
    1. I never truly believe him because his stories always possess contradictions.
  2. 自相矛盾的话我从来不相信。
    1. I don’t trust stories with contradictions.
  3. 政客说的话向来都自相矛盾,所以我不会轻易的支持一个。
    1. I am careful with whom I support within politics because politicians typically make vague promises with contradictions.


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Ru-Ping Chen

Ru-Ping Chen

Ru-Ping Chen is a contributing writer at TutorABC Chinese. She has always loved doing research into her Chinese heritage, so she decided to attend the University of California, Berkeley to double major in Business and Chinese, focusing in Chinese language and history. Her other interests include reading Western Classics, teaching herself Chinese poems, and learning other East Asian languages.

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