Chengyu Explanations: 丢三落四

丢三落四 usually describes a person who is forgetful or ’empty-headed’. The following post describes the meaning of this 成语 in detail.


Characters 丢三落四
Pin Yin diū sān là sì
Pleco Definition 1. forgetful
2. empty-headed
HSK Level HSK 6


丢三落四 refers to someone who is ‘forgetful’ or ‘empty-headed’. Literally, it means someone who “drops threes and leaves out fours”. In other words, it describes someone who is liable to frequently forget things due to either (1) carelessness, (2) having a bad memory or (3) being unable to manage two or more things at the same time. This 成语, therefore, has a derogatory meaning.

Grammatically, 丢三落四 may be a verb which directly follows the subject. As a verb, it cannot take an object. It may also operate as an adjective (e.g. 丢三落四的人) and may be modified by certain adverbs (e.g. 总是, 非常).

丢三落四 is sometimes written as 丢三拉四. The character 落 (usually pronounced luò or lào in other contexts) is pronounced là, while the character 拉 (usually pronounced with the first tone lā) is also pronounced with the fourth tone as là. The meaning and pronunciation is identical for both 丢三落四 and 丢三拉四, although the former is more commonly used.

Example Sentences

She is an extremely forgetful person.

During the job interview, the manager realised the applicant was scatterbrained, so he didn’t hire her.

She said she doesn’t want to marry a man who is always forgetful.

The teacher turned to the careless students and said angrily, “If you forget to bring your textbooks to class again, I’ll have to inform your parents!”

References and Further Reading

1. 成语词典 (新世纪版2011修订), p. 168.
2. Integrated Chinese Book 2, Lesson 10.
3. 新HSK词汇突破: 6级 (2013), p.89-90.

One thought on “Chengyu Explanations: 丢三落四

  1. Pingback: Mandarin Weekly #56 – Mandarin Weekly (每周中文)

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