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Never in Chinese / Japanese...

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Start your custom "Never" project by clicking the button next to your favorite "Never" title below...

  1. Never Give In / Never Succumb...
  2. Respect out of fear is never genuine...
  3. Never Forget
  4. Never Give Up
  5. Never Forget
  6. Never Forget Your First Resolution
  7. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today
  8. Better Late Than Never
  9. A Wise Man Changes His Mind
10. Drinking the water of a well,...
11. No Surrender
12. Past experience is the teacher for the future.
13. Death Before Surrender
14. Undaunted After Repeated Setbacks
15. Honorable Death - No Surrender
16. Death Before Dishonor

Never Give In / Never Succumb
Never Lose

Japan kesshite akirameruna
Never Give In / Never Succumb / Never Lose

This is a Japanese term that informally means "never give up." It's also a Japanese way to say "never surrender."


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.


See Also:  Tenacity | Perseverance | Hope

Respect out of fear is never genuine
Reverence out of respect is never false

China dǎ pà de rén shì jiǎ de jìng pà de rén shì zhēn de
Respect out of fear is never genuine / Reverence out of respect is never false

This is a proverb that seems to be aimed at world leaders or others in power. Perhaps a suggestion to avoid the practice of "fear mongering" opting instead for a policy of benevolence and justice.

An example: When the Bush administration told Pakistan they could either join America in the "war on terror," or expect some bombs to be coming their way, Bush gained this kind of "less-than-genuine respect" from Pakistanis.
Leaders in places like North Korea and even Saudi Arabia reap the same bogus respect from their own citizens.


Note that calligraphers do not like to repeat the same characters in exactly the same way in the same piece of artwork. So expect the characters that are repeated to be written in different forms in the real artwork (unlike the way they are displayed to the left).

Never Forget

China yǒng zhì bù wàng
Never Forget

This literally translates as, "forever remember, never forget." But most will just understand this as "never forget" or "never forgotten" in Chinese.

Never Give Up

China yǒng bù fàng qì
Never Give Up

The first character means "eternal" or "forever," the second means "not" (together they mean "never"). The last two characters mean "give up" or "abandon." Altogether, you can translate this proverb as "never give up" or "never abandon."

Depending on how you want to read this, it is also a statement that you will never abandon your hopes, dreams, family or friends.


See Also:  Undaunted | No Fear | Hope

Never Forget

Never forget your vow or path
China cháng bù wàng shī
Japan jou fu bou shitsu
Never Forget

This title is used almost exclusively in a Buddhist context (not all Chinese or Japanese people will recognize it).

常不忘失 means, "Never forget your vow/path" in Chinese characters and Japanese Kanji.

Never Forget Your First Resolution

Never Lose Your Beginner's Spirit
Japan sho shin wasu ru be ka ra zu
Never Forget Your First Resolution

This is an old Japanese proverb that suggests you try to never forget the enthusiasm you had as a child when you try new things (or even face the day-to-day). Basically avoid having a mundane attitude that many people get with age.

You'll find this Japanese proverb translated a few different ways. Here are some of them:
Don't forget your first resolution.
Never forget your child-like enthusiasm.
Forget not the beginner's mind.
Try never to lose your initial enthusiasm (freshness of attitude).


Note: This is sometimes written as 初心忘る可からず. The one shown above is used about 10x more often. There's only one character difference between the two versions.


Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today

China jīn rì shì jīn rì bì
Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today

This is a Chinese proverb that means, "never put off until tomorrow what you can do today."

Better Late Than Never

It's Never Too Late Too Mend
China wáng yáng bǔ láo yóu wèi wéi wǎn
Better Late Than Never

Long ago in what is now China, there were many kingdoms throughout the land. This time period is known as "The Warring States Period" by historians because these kingdoms often did not get along with each other.

Some time around 279 B.C. the Kingdom of Chu was a large but not particularly powerful kingdom. Part of the reason it lacked power was the fact that the King was surrounded by "yes men" who told him only what he wanted to hear. Many of the King's court officials were corrupt and incompetent which did not help the situation.

The King was not blameless himself, as he started spending much of his time being entertained by his many concubines.

One of the King's ministers, Zhuang Xin, saw problems on the horizon for the Kingdom, and warned the King, "Your Majesty, you are surrounded by people who tell you what you want to hear. They tell you things to make you happy, and cause you to ignore important state affairs. If this is allowed to continue, the Kingdom of Chu will surely perish, and fall into ruins."

This enraged the King who scolded Zhuang Xin for insulting the country and accused him of trying to create resentment among the people. Zhuang Xin explained, "I dare not curse the Kingdom of Chu but I feel that we face great danger in the future because of the current situation." The King was simply not impressed with Zhuang Xin's words.
Seeing the King's displeasure with him and the King's fondness for his court of corrupt officials, Zhuang Xin asked permission of the King that he may take leave of the Kingdom of Chu, and travel to the State of Zhao to live. The King agreed, and Zhuang Xin left the Kingdom of Chu, perhaps forever.

Five months later, troops from the neighboring Kingdom of Qin invaded Chu, taking a huge tract of land. The King of Chu went into exile, and it appeared that soon, the Kingdom of Chu would no longer exist.

The King of Chu remembered the words of Zhuang Xin, and sent some of his men to find him. Immediately, Zhuang Xin returned to meet the King. The first question asked by the King was, "What can I do now?"

Zhuang Xin told the King this story:

A shepherd woke one morning to find a sheep missing. Looking at the pen saw a hole in the fence where a wolf had come through to steal one of his sheep. His friends told him that he had best fix the hole at once. But the Shepherd thought since the sheep is already gone, there is no use fixing the hole.
The next morning, another sheep was missing. And the Shepherd realized that he must mend the fence at once. Zhuang Xin then went on to make suggestions about what could be done to reclaim the land lost to the Kingdom of Qin, and reclaim the former glory and integrity in the Kingdom of Chu.

The Chinese idiom shown above came from this reply from Zhuang Xin to the King of Chu almost 2,300 years ago.
It translates roughly into English as...
"Even if you have lost some sheep, it's never too late to mend the fence."

This proverb is often used in modern China when suggesting in a hopeful way that someone change their ways, or fix something in their life. It might be used to suggest fixing a marriage, quit smoking, or getting back on track after taking an unfortunate path in life among other things one might fix in their life.

I suppose in the same way that we might say, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" in our western cultures to suggest that you can always start anew.

Note: This does have Korean pronunciation but is not a well-known proverb in Korean (only Koreans familiar with ancient Chinese history would know it). Best if your audience is Chinese.

A Wise Man Changes His Mind (but a fool never will)

Japan kun shi hyou hen su
A Wise Man Changes His Mind (but a fool never will)

This Japanese proverb suggests that a wise man is willing to change his mind but a fool will stubbornly never change his.

The first word is 君子 (kunshi) man of virtue, person of high rank, wise man.

The second word is 豹変 (hyouhen) sudden change, complete change.

The last part す (su) just modifies the verb to a more humble form.

The "fool" part is merely implied or understood. So if wise and noble people are willing to change their minds, it automatically says that foolish people are the ones unwilling to change.

Drinking the water of a well,
one should never forget who dug it

China chī shuǐ bú wàng jué jǐng rén
Drinking the water of a well, / one should never forget who dug it

This proverb suggests that one should always be grateful to those who helped you succeed.

And remember your ancestors and those that came before you whose sacrifices made your present life better.

Some Chinese will separate the intended meaning from this proverb and translate this as "Don't forget the people who once helped you." In Modern China, this idiom is virtually never used to refer to an actual well.

Note: This can be pronounced in Korean but it's not a commonly used phrase.

No Surrender

Honor Does Not Allow Second Thoughts
China yì wú fǎn gù
No Surrender

This Chinese proverb can be translated a few different ways. Here are some examples:

Honor does not allow one to glance back.
Duty-bound not to turn back.
No surrender.
To pursue justice with no second thoughts.
Never surrender your principles.

This proverb is really about having the courage to do what is right without questioning your decision to take the right and just course.

Past experience is the teacher for the future.

Past events not forgotten serve as teachers for later events.
China qián shì bú wàng hòu shí zhī shī
Past experience is the teacher for the future.

The most literal translation to English of this ancient Chinese proverb is:
"Past events not forgotten serve as teachers for later events."

However, it's been translated several ways:
Don't forget past events, they can guide you in future.
Benefit from past experience.
Past experience, if not forgotten, is a guide for the future.
Past calamity is my teacher.
A good memory for the past is a teacher for the future.
The remembrance of the past is the teacher of the future.
If one remembers the lessons of the past; They will serve as a guide to avoid mistakes in the future.

The origin:
This proverb comes from the 5th century B.C. just before the Warring States Period in the territory now known as China.
The head of the State of Jin, Zhi Bo, seized power in a coup. He did this with help from the armies of the State of Han and Wei. Instead of being grateful for the help from Han and Wei, he treacherously took the land of Han and Wei. Never satisfied, Zhi Bo employed the armies of Han and Wei to attack and seize the State of Zhao.

The king of Zhao took advice from his minister Zhang Mengtan and secretly contacted the Han and Wei armies to reverse their plans and attack the army of Zhi Bo instead. The plan was successful, and the State of Zhao was not only saved but was set to become a powerful kingdom in the region.

Zhang Mengtan immediately submitted his resignation to a confused king of Zhao. When asked why, Zhang Mengtan said, "I've done my duty to save my kingdom but looking back at past experience, I know sovereign kings are never satisfied with the power or land at hand. They will join others and fight for more power and more land. I must learn from past experiences, as those experiences are the teachers of future events."
The king could not dispute the logic in that statement and accepted Zhang Mengtan's resignation.

For generations, the State of Zhao continued to fight for power and land until finally being defeated and decimated by the State of Qin (which lead to the birth of the Qin Dynasty in 221 B.C.).

Death Before Surrender

Rather die than compromise
China níng sǐ bù qū
Death Before Surrender

寧死不屈 is often translated as "Death Before Dishonor."

The literal translation is more like, "Better die than compromise." The last two characters mean "not to bend" or "not to bow down." Some might even say that it means "not to surrender." Thus, you could say this proverb means, "Better to die than live on my knees" or simply "no surrender" (with the real idea being that you would rather die than surrender).

Death Before Surrender

China nìng sǐ bù xiáng
Death Before Surrender

This ancient Chinese proverb can be translated as "Rather to die than surrender," "Prefer death over surrender," "To prefer death to surrender," or simply "No surrender."

寧死不降 is probably the closest proverb to the English proverb "Better to die on your feet than live on your knees."

Undaunted After Repeated Setbacks

Persistence to overcome all challenges
China bǎi zhé bù náo
Japan hyaku setsu su tou
Undaunted After Repeated Setbacks

This Chinese proverb means "Be undaunted in the face of repeated setbacks." More directly-translated, it reads, "[Overcome] a hundred setbacks, without flinching." 百折不撓 is of Chinese origin but is commonly used in Japanese, and somewhat in Korean (same characters, different pronunciation).

This proverb comes from a long, and occasionally tragic story of a man that lived sometime around 25-220 AD. His name was Qiao Xuan and he never stooped to flattery but remained an upright person at all times. He fought to expose corruption of higher-level government officials at great risk to himself.

Then when he was at a higher level in the Imperial Court, bandits were regularly capturing hostages and demanding ransoms. But when his own son was captured, he was so focused on his duty to the Emperor and common good that he sent a platoon of soldiers to raid the bandits' hideout, and stop them once and for all even at the risk of his own son's life. While all of the bandits were arrested in the raid, they killed Qiao Xuan's son at first sight of the raiding soldiers.

Near the end of his career a new Emperor came to power, and Qiao Xuan reported to him that one of his ministers was bullying the people and extorting money from them. The new Emperor refused to listen to Qiao Xuan and even promoted the corrupt Minister. Qiao Xuan was so disgusted that in protest he resigned his post as minister (something almost never done) and left for his home village.

His tombstone reads "Bai Zhe Bu Nao" which is now a proverb used in Chinese culture to describe a person of strength will who puts up stubborn resistance against great odds.

My Chinese-English dictionary defines these 4 characters as, "keep on fighting in spite of all setbacks," "be undaunted by repeated setbacks" and "be indomitable."

Our translator says it can mean, "never give up" in modern Chinese.

Although the first two characters are translated correctly as "repeated setbacks," the literal meaning is "100 setbacks" or "a rope that breaks 100 times." The last two characters can mean "do not yield" or "do not give up."
Most Chinese, Japanese, and Korean people will not take this absolutely literal meaning but will instead understand it as the title suggests above. If you want a single big word definition, it would be indefatigability, indomitableness, persistence, or unyielding.


See Also:  Tenacity | Fortitude | Strength | Perseverance | Persistence

Honorable Death - No Surrender

Japan gyokusai shugi
Honorable Death - No Surrender

This ancient Japanese proverb can be translated as "The principle of honorable death and no surrender," or simply "No surrender." If you directly translate this, you get something that means "Doctrine of suicide," or "Ideology of honorable death."

玉砕主義 is a specifically-Japanese proverb that embraces the long history of honorable suicide or self-sacrifice for honor in Japanese culture.

Death Before Dishonor

You can die or kill, but never dishonor or disgrace yourself
China kě shā bù kě rǔ
Death Before Dishonor

This almost directly matches the idea of "Death Before Dishonor," while also being an ancient Chinese proverb.

The direct meaning is, "[you] can die/kill [but you] cannot [allow] dishonor/disgrace [upon yourself]." Chinese grammar, and especially ancient grammar, is a little different than English. Not nearly as many articles are needed, and a lot is implied.

There are a lot of ways to express ideas similar to "Death Before Dishonor" in Chinese, and I would rate this one in the top two.

Death Before Dishonor

A soldier can die or kill, but never dishonor or disgrace himself
China shì kě shā bù kě rǔ
Death Before Dishonor

This almost directly matches the military idea of "Death Before Dishonor," while also being an ancient Chinese proverb.

The direct meaning is, "[A] soldier/warrior can die/kill [but he/she] cannot [allow] dishonor/disgrace [upon himself/herself]." Chinese grammar, and especially ancient grammar, is a little different than English. Not nearly as many articles are needed, and a lot is implied.

There are a lot of ways to express ideas similar to "Death Before Dishonor" in Chinese, and I would rate this one in the top two.

This is the original form of this proverb with the character for "soldier/warrior" at the beginning. Most of the time, this character is dropped, and this becomes a five-character proverb (the soldier/warrior part is implied, even without the character being present in the proverb). We also offer the shorter version.

Search for Never in my Japanese & Chinese Dictionary




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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
Never Give In
Never Succumb
Never Lose
決して諦めるなkesshite akirameruna
kesshiteakirameruna
keshite akirameruna
keshiteakirameruna
Respect out of fear is never genuine
Reverence out of respect is never false
打怕的人是假的敬怕的人是真的dǎ pà de rén shì jiǎ de jìng pà de rén shì zhēn de
da3 pa4 de ren2 shi4 jia3 de jing4 pa4 de ren2 shi4 zhen1 de
da pa de ren shi jia de jing pa de ren shi zhen de
ta p`a te jen shih chia te ching p`a te jen shih chen te
ta pa te jen shih chia te ching pa te jen shih chen te
Never Forget永志不忘yǒng zhì bù wàng
yong3 zhi4 bu4 wang4
yong zhi bu wang
yongzhibuwang
yung chih pu wang
yungchihpuwang
Never Give Up永不放棄
永不放弃
yǒng bù fàng qì
yong3 bu4 fang4 qi4
yong bu fang qi
yongbufangqi
yung pu fang ch`i
yungpufangchi
yung pu fang chi
Never Forget常不忘失jou fu bou shitsu
joufuboushitsu
jo fu bo shitsu
jofuboshitsu
cháng bù wàng shī
chang2 bu4 wang4 shi1
chang bu wang shi
changbuwangshi
ch`ang pu wang shih
changpuwangshih
chang pu wang shih
Never Forget Your First Resolution初心忘るべからず / 初心忘る可からず
初心忘るべからず
sho shin wasu ru be ka ra zu
shoshinwasurubekarazu
Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today今日事今日畢
今日事今日毕
jīn rì shì jīn rì bì
jin1 ri4 shi4 jin1 ri4 bi4
jin ri shi jin ri bi
jinrishijinribi
chin jih shih chin jih pi
chinjihshihchinjihpi
Better Late Than Never亡羊補牢猶未為晚
亡羊补牢犹未为晚
wáng yáng bǔ láo yóu wèi wéi wǎn
wang2 yang2 bu3 lao2 you2 wei4 wei2 wan3
wang yang bu lao you wei wei wan
wang yang pu lao yu wei wei wan
wangyangpulaoyuweiweiwan
A Wise Man Changes His Mind (but a fool never will)君子豹変すkun shi hyou hen su
kunshihyouhensu
kun shi hyo hen su
kunshihyohensu
Drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it吃水不忘掘井人chī shuǐ bú wàng jué jǐng rén
chi1 shui3 bu2 wang4 jue2 jing3 ren2
chi shui bu wang jue jing ren
chishuibuwangjuejingren
ch`ih shui pu wang chüeh ching jen
chih shui pu wang chüeh ching jen
No Surrender義無反顧
义无反顾
yì wú fǎn gù
yi4 wu2 fan3 gu4
yi wu fan gu
yiwufangu
i wu fan ku
iwufanku
Past experience is the teacher for the future.前事不忘后事之師
前事不忘后事之师
qián shì bú wàng hòu shí zhī shī
qian2 shi4 bu2 wang4 hou4 shi2 zhi1 shi1
qian shi bu wang hou shi zhi shi
ch`ien shih pu wang hou shih chih shih
chien shih pu wang hou shih chih shih
Death Before Surrender寧死不屈
宁死不屈
níng sǐ bù qū
ning2 si3 bu4 qu1
ning si bu qu
ningsibuqu
ning ssu pu ch`ü
ningssupuchü
ning ssu pu chü
Death Before Surrender寧死不降
宁死不降
nìng sǐ bù xiáng
ning4 si3 bu4 xiang2
ning si bu xiang
ningsibuxiang
ning ssu pu hsiang
ningssupuhsiang
Undaunted After Repeated Setbacks百折不撓
百折不挠
hyaku setsu su tou
hyakusetsusutou
hyaku setsu su to
hyakusetsusuto
bǎi zhé bù náo
bai3 zhe2 bu4 nao2
bai zhe bu nao
baizhebunao
pai che pu nao
paichepunao
Honorable Death - No Surrender玉砕主義gyokusai shugi
gyokusaishugi
Death Before Dishonor可殺不可辱
可杀不可辱
kě shā bù kě rǔ
ke3 sha1 bu4 ke3 ru3
ke sha bu ke ru
keshabukeru
k`o sha pu k`o ju
koshapukoju
ko sha pu ko ju
Death Before Dishonor士可殺不可辱
士可杀不可辱
shì kě shā bù kě rǔ
shi4 ke3 sha1 bu4 ke3 ru3
shi ke sha bu ke ru
shikeshabukeru
shih k`o sha pu k`o ju
shihkoshapukoju
shih ko sha pu ko ju
In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.



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All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.

When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.

Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!

When you select your calligraphy, you'll be taken to another page where you can choose various custom options.


A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.

There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.


Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.

Some people may refer to this entry as Never Kanji, Never Characters, Never in Mandarin Chinese, Never Characters, Never in Chinese Writing, Never in Japanese Writing, Never in Asian Writing, Never Ideograms, Chinese Never symbols, Never Hieroglyphics, Never Glyphs, Never in Chinese Letters, Never Hanzi, Never in Japanese Kanji, Never Pictograms, Never in the Chinese Written-Language, or Never in the Japanese Written-Language.