Match That Idiom 01 -“雪上加霜”

I’ve always been fascinated by how different languages go about communicating the same idea. So in this series of posts, I’ll be looking at how idiomatic expressions translate across English, Chinese, French, and Korean.

First up is a Chinese idiom that I recently fell in love with…it just appeals so much to the senses.

CN | 雪上加霜 | xuě shàng jiā shuāng

Snow/frost feels too pure and harmless to mean something negative…but then there’s hypothermia. (image via Cano Vääri/Flickr)

Literal translation: to add frost on top of snow
Actual meaning: to make matters worse, to make a relationship with another person even worse by offending him as well as actually harming him

And now matching it to the others —

EN | to add insult to injury

to rub salt into wounds

FR | retourner le couteau dans la plaie

to return the knife into the wound

mettre du sel dans la plaie

to put salt in the wound

KR | 엎친 데 덮친 격으로

to be ambushed when you’re down on the ground already


to add frost to snow (probably derived from Chinese…?)

These are the best translations I could come up with — would appreciate any feedback from native speakers!


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