放鸽子: Fàng gēzi
We all have that one friend who ditches last minute all the time. This Chinese idiom basically means “to ditch someone” or “to ditch plans”. You might want to keep this in mind the next time you make plans with your squad, so we’ll teach you how to say ditch in Chinese, or 放鸽子 (fàng gē zǐ).
The literal translation of this phrase is “release the pigeon”. 放 (Fàng) means “to put” or “to release”. 鸽子 (gēzi) means pigeon. The etymology of this phrase is rather interesting.
In ancient China, carrier pigeons were the primary medium of communication. The parties engaging in a conversation would agree on replying deadlines. However, if the other party only sends the pigeon back without attaching the reply. The other party will say “Why did you only release the pigeon”.
The idiom also has more modern roots. In Shanghai, the lottery was known as “white pigeon ticket” and the probability of winning was so low that the money does not “return”.
The second root is a scam in China. Certain people would train their own pigeons and release them to other people’s pigeon herds when the herds were flying. The “foreign” pigeons would confuse the herd and guide the herd back to the cages of the owner of the “foreign” pigeons.
The final root is another scam where women would go to homes to seek employment as a babysitter or servant. After entering the household, she would steal all the valuables in the household. This crime was known as ““放鸽子” (Fàng gēzi)
放鸽子 (Fàng gēzi) is used as an idiom and takes the place of a verb. Let’s look at some example sentences.
He was ditched by his friends at the cinema.
Tā dào le xì yuàn cái bèi fàng gēzi
She ditched last minute.
Tā zài zuìhòu yīkè cái fàng gēzi
Remember be a good friend. Don’t ditch last minute.
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