CantoRead Blog


Big Rock Squishes the Crab

大 means big. 石 means rock. 責死 means squashes to death. 蟹 means crab. Taken literally, this means “A big rock squashes a crab to death”. What the hell does that mean figuratively? It’s a way of saying “I have no power in this situation, I can’t control the outco


Fried Squid

炒 means friend and 魷魚 means squid. 炒魷魚 means fried squid, and it’s something you might order at a seafood restaurant. Perhaps with salt and pepper. It also means the act of being fired from your job. Back in the day, Hong Kong had a lot of factories that made all sorts of things. There weren’t enough workers


Stewed Mushrooms

燉 means stewed and 冬菇 is a type of very delicious Chinese mushroom. This is the name of a dish, but it also describes the act of being demoted at work. This one is pretty interesting. Back in the old days, uniformed policemen in Hong Kong wore a triangular hat that looked like a 冬菇 mushroom. If a policeman got to a high enough rank, he’


Goldfish Man

金魚 means goldfish and 佬 means man, typically a middle aged or older man. 的士佬 means taxi driver, an old man associated with taxis. So what is an old man that is associated with goldfish? Perhaps an old man who runs a pet fish store is a 金魚佬? The pet fish store owner would not appreciate being called a 金魚佬 because it


Failing to Steal a Chicken

This phrase comes from a story about a thief. This thief had quite a cunning plan. He poured some alcohol or poison into some rice and then fed it to some dude’s chicken. The chicken collapsed and then he stole it. Later this bad hombre ate the chicken and died. This phrase is used to describe a situation where someone acts with evil intent, but