悬梁刺股 – Chinese philosophy and culture

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xuánliáng-cìgǔ 悬梁刺股

Tie One’s Hair on the House Beam and Jab One’s Side with an Awl to Keep Oneself from Falling Asleep while Studying

“头悬梁,锥刺股”的略语。字面意思是把头发拴在屋梁上,用锥子扎大腿。来源于古人刻苦读书的故事。东汉的孙敬经常关起门,独自一人从早到晚不停读书。疲倦和劳累时就将头发拴在屋梁上,只要一低头,头发就被拉住,人马上清醒,再接着读。战国时代的苏秦(?—前284),每当困乏欲睡的时候,就用锥子扎自己的大腿,以保持头脑清醒,继续苦读。后人常以这两个故事鼓励年轻人发愤读书,努力学习。今天,这种有损身体健康的极端方式已不再提倡,但其刻苦求知的精神仍广为称颂。

The term literally means to tie one’s hair on the house beam and jab one’s side with an awl. The idiom comes from the ancient story about how assiduously people studied. Sun Jing of the Eastern Han (25-220) would incessantly read books from dawn to dusk alone. When he felt tired or fatigued, he would tie his hair to the beam of the house, so that the moment he began to nod off, his head would be jerked back and this would immediately rouse him, and he could continue reading. During the Warring States Period, Su Qin (?-284 BC) would use an awl to jab at his own thigh, whenever he felt sleepy to make sure he stayed awake and lucid enough to be able to continue reading. Later, people started to tell these stories in order to encourage young people to study hard. Today, this kind of extreme measures which are physically harmful are no longer encouraged. However, this kind of assiduous spirit in the pursuit of knowledge is still highly lauded.

引例 Citation:

◎头悬梁,锥刺股。彼不教,自勤苦。(《三字经》)

(孙敬读书时把头发拴在屋梁上[以免打瞌睡];苏秦读书,[每到困倦时就]用锥子扎大腿。他们不用别人督促,而是自觉地勤奋苦读。)

Sun Jing tied his hair to a roof beam to prevent himself from falling asleep while reading; Su Qin jabbed at his own thigh with an awl to keep himself from dozing off while studying. They both studied hard on their own initiative without other’s supervision. (Three-Character Classic)

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