English translation of Thirty-Six Stratagems

1. 瞒天过海 Cross the sea under camouflage.

2. 围魏救赵 Relieve the state of Zhao by besieging the state of Wei.

3. 借刀杀人 Kill someone with a borrowed knife.

4. 以逸待劳 Wait for the exhausted enemy at one’s ease.

5. 趁火打劫 Loot a burning house.

6. 声东击西 Clamour in the east, attack in the west.

7. 无中生有 Create something out of nothing.

8. 暗渡陈仓 Pretend to take one path while sneaking down the other.

9. 隔岸观火 Watch a fire burning from the other side of the river.

10. 笑里藏刀 Knife hidden under the smiling face.

11. 李代桃僵 Sacrifice the plum for the peach.

12. 顺手牵羊 Take the opportunity to pilfer a goat.

13. 打草惊蛇 Disturb the snake by hitting the grass.

14. 借尸还魂 Borrow another’s body to return the soul.

15. 调虎离山 Entice the tiger to leave the mountain.

16. 欲擒故纵 To catch something, first let it go.

17. 抛砖引玉 Bait a piece of jade with a brick.

18. 擒贼擒王 To catch the bandit, first capture their leader.

19. 釜底抽薪 Take away the fire wood under the cooking pot.

20. 混水摸鱼 Fish in troubled water.

21. 金蝉脱壳 Get away like the cicada sloughing its skin.

22. 关门捉贼 Shut the door to catch the thief.

23. 远交近攻 Be friend a distant state while attacking a neighbor.

24. 假途伐虢 Obtain safe passage to conquer the enemy.

25. 偷梁换柱 Replace the beams with rotten timbers.

26. 指桑骂槐 Revile the locust tree while pointing at the mulberry.

27. 假痴不癫 Play dumb, remain smart.

28. 上屋抽梯 Pull down the ladder after ascent.

29. 树上开花 Deck the tree with bogus blossom.

30. 反客为主 Make the guest and host change places.

31. 美人计 The beauty trap; Use seductive women to corrupt the enemy.

32. 空城计 Present a bold front to conceal unpreparedness.

33. 反间计 Sow discord among the enemy; Use double agent.

34. 苦肉计 Inflict injury upon oneself to gain trust.

35. 连环计 Chain together the enemy’s ships.

36. 走为上计 Runaway to fight another day; Escape is the best policy

Read Also: The translations of “shall” in Law English

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