小心眼儿

yuechu

Senior Member
Canada, English
Hello/大家好,

I often come across the word 小心眼儿 when watching Chinese TV. My dictionary gives the translation "narrow-minded" but it never seems to be used in the same context as I would use "narrow-minded" in English...
For example, in a TV show, there is a girl who is not happy that her boyfriend is not buying an 1000+ RMB 脚毯 for her even though they don't have any money. So she complains that "他这个人啊。他就小心眼儿!".
Would anyone know what the meaning of 小心眼儿 is?

Thanks in advance/谢谢!
 
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  • SuperXW

    Senior Member
    Literally means "narrow-minded", but it doesn't always means the same thing in English. Imagine a person (usually to describe a female) who is a little bit selfish and stingy, always bearing a grudge, opposite to what you call "a big heart", that's 小心眼儿.

    There's another possible usage of 小心眼儿: e.g. 他那点小心眼儿,我还不清楚?
    Here 小心眼 means "small cleverness", "little plan in heart". The whole sentence means "I surely know his small plan/intention."

    My English is limited. Other members may have more accurate English explanations.
     
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    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    心眼 has multiple meanings, including:
    1. 心和眼 "heart and eyes": figuratively 见识眼光 "insight, perceptiveness" ==> 小心眼 = 见识眼光短浅 "lacking foresight, short-sighted, narrow-minded".
    2. 心的眼 "heart's focus": figuratively 心意心思 "intent, focus of thoughts" ==> 小心眼 = 多疑, 在琐事上鑽牛角尖 "inclined to brood over something trivial, paranoid, oversensitive".
    3. 心的眼 "entrance to heart": figuratively 气量胸怀 "capacity to tolerate/accommodate others" ==> 小心眼 = 胸襟狭隘 "intolerant, unmagnanimous, unaccommodating".
    there is a girl who is not happy that her boyfriend is not buying an 1000+ RMB 脚毯 for her even though they don't have any money. So she complains that "他这个人啊。他就小心眼儿!".
    She seems to be complaining about his 小气 (= 小 + 气量 = 小 + 心眼 definition#3 "capacity to accommodate"). "He is unaccommodating", in other words.
     

    BODYholic

    Senior Member
    Chinese Cantonese
    Hello/大家好,

    I often come across the word 小心眼儿 when watching Chinese TV. My dictionary gives the translation "narrow-minded" but it never seems to be used in the same context as I would use "narrow-minded" in English...
    For example, in a TV show, there is a girl who is not happy that her boyfriend is not buying an 1000+ RMB 脚毯 for her even though they don't have any money. So she complains that "他这个人啊。他就小心眼儿!".
    Would anyone know what the meaning of 小心眼儿 is?

    Thanks in advance/谢谢!
    Sometimes it is also translated as petty.
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    In the context as described by the OP, wouldn't it be appropriate to translate it simply as "stingy/ ungenerous" ?
     

    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    2. 小心眼 = 多疑, 在琐事上钻牛角尖 "inclined to brood over something trivial, paranoid, oversensitive".
    3. ...figuratively 气量胸怀 "capacity to tolerate/accommodate others" ==> 小心眼 = 胸襟狭隘 "intolerant, unmagnanimous, unaccommodating".
    This word is not an easy one to translate, eh! Thanks for finding these other definitions and to everyone else for your help as well!! I think I understand the word better now :)
     

    我为英语狂

    Member
    Chinese
    In this context, “小心眼儿” means “being cheap, being stingy” in American English and “being mean with money” in British English.
     

    xiaolijie

    Senior Member
    UK
    English (UK)
    I don't know why, but I don't remember the specific context provided by baosheng. Now since it's in his thread, I, of course, totally agree with your explanation!
    It's Either I missed that context or he has modified the thread after I've read it. :D
    The PO didn't modify his post, but it's very common that when we read quickly, we all miss out something sometimes :)
     

    yuechu

    Senior Member
    Canada, English
    Oh, I was indeed interested in various uses of this word (both in the context provided and other uses as well) so appreciate everyone's contributions, which I found very helpful :)
    谢谢大家!
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    In the context provided in the OP, my natural, automatic response would be: "Is she complaining that he is cheap or else?" The context obviously points to "cheap, stingy", but the conventional definitions of 小心眼 do not. As a result, it creates a feeling of unsureness, a combination of "his being cheap" and "莫名其妙, 不知所云". 小心眼 can mean 氣量狹小, but from 氣量狹小 to "cheap, stingy" is a jump that my brain is not able to process in time in a real-life conversation (I'm not talking about the interpretation we may obtain after analyzing the written, summarized "artificial" context as many times as needed).
     
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