Once In A Blue Moon

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In the realm of interpersonal dynamics, there exists an art form that is as subtle as it is strategic. Known as “拍马屁” (Pai Ma Pi) in Chinese, this phrase may be translated character by character as “hit-butt,” but its implied meaning is far more intriguing. It refers to the practice of fawning over or sucking up to someone, typically someone in a position of authority or power. This proverbial phrase encapsulates a universal phenomenon – the act of ingratiating oneself with others to gain favor, and it is not limited to any one culture or language.

Understanding “拍马屁” (Pai Ma Pi)

The literal translation of “拍马屁” (Pai Ma Pi) may leave one picturing rather comical scenarios, but in practice, it is a shrewd and often necessary social skill. The phrase is functional in conveying the act of ingratiating behavior, akin to what we colloquially refer to as “sucking up” or “brown-nosing.” It involves flattering, complimenting, or otherwise catering to someone’s ego or desires to curry favor, influence decisions, or gain preferential treatment.

Examples of Usage

To grasp the essence of “拍马屁” (Pai Ma Pi), let’s explore some real-life examples:

Example 1: A: 她既有工作能力,又善于拍上司的马屁,所以提升很快。 A: Tā jì yǒu gōngzuò nénglì, yòu shàn yú pāi shàngsī de mǎ pì, suǒyǐ tíshēng hěn kuài. A: She’s a good worker and she’s good at sucking up to her superiors, so she was promoted quickly.

In this scenario, the person is not just a proficient worker but also adept at pleasing her superiors, which expedites her career growth.

Example 2: A: 老板,您的领带真漂亮,跟您的西装最配了。 B: 你少拍马屁,这条领带我都戴了八回了,你怎么第一次说好? A: Lǎobǎn, nín de lǐngdài zhēn piàoliang, gēn nín de xīzhuāng zuì pèi le. B: Nǐ shǎo pāi mǎ pì, zhè tiáo lǐngdài wǒ dōu dài le bā huí le, nǐ zěnme dì-yī cì shuō hǎo?

In this humorous exchange, the boss receives a compliment about his tie, but he suspects the flattery and jokingly admonishes the employee for her insincere praise.

Usage and Implications

“拍马屁” (Pai Ma Pi) serves as a predicate in sentences, often describing the behavior of individuals who engage in flattery or ingratiating actions. It is essential to recognize that while this practice may be effective in certain situations, it typically carries a derogatory connotation. People who are perceived as “拍马屁” (Pai Ma Pi) are often seen as insincere, opportunistic, and lacking in genuine merit.


In the realm of human interactions, the art of “拍马屁” (Pai Ma Pi) remains a universal, albeit controversial, practice. Whether it’s in the workplace, politics, or social circles, individuals employ this skill to navigate complex social hierarchies and gain advantages. However, it is important to strike a balance between diplomacy and authenticity, as excessive flattery can backfire and damage one’s reputation. In the end, the true mastery of “拍马屁” (Pai Ma Pi) lies in the ability to discern when it is appropriate and when it crosses the line into insincerity.


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