Famous Chinese Quotes and Sayings, Meaning and Origin

Meaning: of a person who has limited outlook and life experience. From Zhuangzi. 莊子/秋水

Zhuang Zhou (commonly known as Zhuangzi, 庄子, literally “Master Zhuang”), was an influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BC during the Warring States period (476–221 BC). He is credited with writing – in part or in whole – a work known by its name, the Zhuangzi, which is one of the fundamental texts of Taoism.


A frog in a well cannot conceive of the ocean.

Literally: “a frog at the bottom of a well (who can only see a small part of the sky through the opening)”.



鼃 is an ancient character for frog. In modern times, it has often been replaced with 蛙 (wā).

The story

A frog lived in a well and had nothing else. One day, a sea turtle came into the well and told her about the sea. One day, a sea turtle came into the well and told her about the sea.

‘The sea? Hah! It’s paradise in here. Nothing can be better than this well. Why don’t you come down and share my joy?’

The tortoise tried to reach the frog at the bottom of the well, but the mouth of the well was too narrow. ‘Why don’t you go see the sea instead? During Yu the Great’s reign, there was flooding for nine out of ten years, yet the sea barely grew an inch. During Tang of Shang’s reign, droughts were experienced in seven out of eight years, yet the sea hardly shrank. Being unaffected by such disasters is the joy of living in the sea….’


The title of the story “the frog of the bottom of the well” (井底之蛙) was not the original title by Zhuangzi, since he didn’t give any name to the fable. According to some the common interpretation of a frog in a well is incorrect, since the word 井 (Jǐng, well) back then had meant ‘trap’ (today 阱 Jǐng).

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

CinaOggi.it and China-underground.com are two websites focused on China and Chinese culture. The site includes thousands of articles on this country structured in categories: news, trends, economy, history, art, guides, literature , pictures gallery, videos and Chinese cinema.

Related Posts

51 children injured after man sprays caustic soda in a kindergarten in China

On Monday afternoon, a 23-year-old man, Kong Mohan, unemployed, broke into Dongcheng Kindergarten in Kaiyuan City, Yunnan province, and sprayed caustic soda in a...

Hong Kong protests: Man set alight hours after protester shot by police as anti-government violence escalates

A man has been set on fire in the former British colony, as the city experiences one of the most dramatic days in over...

In joint case with U.S., China jails nine for smuggling Fentanyl

A Chinese court in Xingtai, Hebei Province, sentenced nine fentanyl traffickers Thursday in an apparent demonstration that China is serious about holding up its...

Macron in China to discuss trade deals and ‘taboo’ topics

French President Emmanuel Macron in China to sign new trade agreements and to talk about the protests in Hong Kong, Xinjiang. Landing in China on...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.