Chinese Idiom Stories

To Swallow Dates Whole

In ancient times there lived a doctor who was introducing people to the nutrition found in pears and dates. He said, "Pears are good for the teeth but bad for the spleen. Dates, by contrast, are good for the spleen but bad for the teeth."

One of the people listening to the lecture then said, "I have an idea. When eating pears, why don't we chew them with out teeth, but then spit them out instead of swallowing them? And when eating dates, why don't we swallow them whole instead of chewing them? That why, we can absorb the nutrition of both fruits, and yet avoid their adverse effects." For a while the doctor did not know what to say. And so the people began to refer to this method of eating dates as "Swallowing Dates Whole"

Today, idiom "Swallowing Dates Whole" refers to studying some subject or doing something without really seeking to understand it.


有一位醫生對人說,梨對人的牙齒很有好處,但對脾卻有害處,而棗對脾有好處,但對牙 齒卻有害處。一個自作聰明的人聽後,連忙對旁人說:「 我倒有個好辦法,即可以吸收梨和棗子各自對於人的好處,而又可以避免害處,那就是我吃梨的時候,只用牙齒咀嚼,卻不咽到肚裡去,吃棗的時候一口吞到肚子裡,這樣既不傷害牙齒也不傷害脾。旁人聽了說 :「你吃梨只嚼不咽還可以做到,但棗子只咽不嚼,就難了,你那樣囫圇吞棗,肚子可受不了啊。」

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