Learn Chinese Idioms – 学富五车 – Xué Fù Wǔ Chē

Greetings everyone!

Welcome to “learn Chinese Café” Chinese idiom series. Today we are going to look at 学富五车 – Xué Fù Wǔ Chē.

The meaning of 学富五车 – Xué Fù Wǔ Chē is to be very knowledgeable. To have as much knowledge as five carloads of books.

Let’s break down the Chinese characters in this idiom so we can better understand its meaning.

As you likely know, “学” means to learn or study.

Likewise, “富” means rich or in abundance.

Finally, “五车” is simply “five carts”.

So, if we put this all together we have someone who has studied an abundant amount of knowledge. Knowledge equivalent to five carloads of books.

I love the image this idiom paints for us. As you can see from these pictures, five carloads of books is quite a bit of knowledge. When I think of this Chinese idiom, I’m reminded of people like Noam Chomsky.

Can you think of anyone who is “学富五车 – Xué Fù Wǔ Chē”?

This is one of those Chinese idioms that has a story behind it. Briefly, there was a Chinese philosopher named Hui4 Shi1 who lived during the warring states period. He was well known for his paradoxes. A friend of his named Zhuang1 Zi3 would often criticize Hui4 Shi1 for being confusing and inaccurate. However despite these criticisms, Zhuang1 Zi3 still praised Hui4 Shi1 for being so knowledgeable, having as much knowledge as five carloads of books. Since then, Chinese have used 学富五车 – Xué Fù Wǔ Chē to describe a person as being knowledgeable.

Let’s take a look at 学富五车 – Xué Fù Wǔ Chē in use. Here we have, “我很喜欢王老师的课。她学富五车。”

How would you translate this sentence and English?

If you came up with something close to “I really like Teacher Wang’s class. She is so full of knowledge”, then you are right on.

Pay attention to how the Chinese idiom is used grammatically in the sentence. We have the subject “她” followed immediately by “学富五车”. There is no verb or any other helping character in between the subject and the idiom. Therefore, when using this idiom you can simply state the name of a person followed immediately by the idiom.


Here are a couple more examples:


Wǒmen xuéxiào de lǎoshī dōu xuéfùwǔchē.

The teachers at our school are all very knowledgeable.



Yīgè nánrén bù yīdìng yào xuéfùwǔchē. Dàn yīdìng yào yǒu sīxiǎng, yǒu pǐnwèi

I man does not necessarily have to be knowledgeable. However, he definitely should have ideas and good taste.


Do you have any examples of your own? Who do you think is “学富五车”? Share it in the comment section.

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