a false alarm
In Jin Dynasty there was a man named Yue Guang who was fond of drinking alcohol.
One day, he invited a friend to his house to drink together.
Suddenly, his friend saw the reflection of a snack swimming in the goblet.
He got so much frightened that he took ill on bed after getting home.
And neither any doctor or any medicine could cure his illness.
Yue Guang came to see him and asked about the cause of his disease.
When he got to know the cause, he pulled his friend from the bed immediately and took him to his house.
Yue Guang made his friend sit where he used to, pouring a goblet of alcohol for him, and asked him," Is there any snake reflection in the goblet?"
There was still a "snake reflection" in the goblet! Yue casually took away the bow hanging on the wall.
This time, the "snake reflection" disappeared.
"So it was the bow reflection that was in the goblet!" His friend at once got well from his illness.
In the Spring and Autumn Period (春秋时期,770-476 BC), there was a beauty in the State of Yue called Xishi (西施).
She often suffered from pains in her chest, and so she would often walk around doubled over and with her brows knitted.
There was an ugly girl in the village called Dongshi who envied Xishi.
Striving to emulate Xishi, she imitated her stoop, knitting her brows at the same time.
She thought that this made her elegant, but in fact, it only made her more ugly.
Later, this idiom came to be used to indicate improper imitation that produces the reverseeffect.
come out of nowhere
In the Warring States Period (战国), Duke Wei of Qi neglected state affairs, for the first three years of his reign, giving himself over to dissipation.
One of his minister, Chun Yukun (chún yú kūn)who had a good sense of humor, said to him:”There is a big bird which has never taken wing nor sung for three years.Your Highness, may you guess what kind of bird is it?”
The duke answered, “Once that bird starts to fly and sing, it will astonish the world.”
The duke then devoted himself to his duties and built his state up into a powerful one.
This idiom is used to indicate that a person may rise from obscurity and achieve greatness.