English 中文网 漫画网 爱新闻iNews 翻译论坛
当前位置: Language Tips> 译通四海> Word and Story

Right on cue

[ 2010-06-09 13:30]     字号 [] [] []  
免费订阅30天China Daily双语新闻手机报:移动用户编辑短信CD至106580009009

Right on cue

Reader’s question: He said his mother would be back very soon and, right on cue, she walked in. Could you explain “right on cue”?

My comments:

It means right at the moment he mentioned his mother (coming back soon), the mother appeared, walking in.

“Cue” originally is a theater term, referring to the signal – either a word, a wave of hand, or a flag – for the next actor to speak/act. Literally, hence, "right on cue" means at the exact moment the “cue” sign is raised.

If the actor speaks or makes a move right on cue, then he/she is doing the exact thing the director wants them to do, as required by the script. In other words, they’re doing a good job.

In the above example, though, “right on cue” perfectly matches, in general meaning and spirit of course, the Chinese vernacular:


However, translate thus at your own peril because one scarcely can imagine one’s mother, anyone’s mother for that matter, sharing anything in common with Cao Cao, the heavy-handed warlord from yesteryear.

Related stories:

Lower 48 states

Pick up steam

Personal chemistry

Put it on the back burner

Butt-brush effect

Make the cut

Poker face

Win hands down

Out on the street


Apple polisher


Think the world of

Ante up

Sit on the fence

On top of the world

Button your lip

One for the books

Pass the buck

Raw deal

Fire sale

Spill the beans

Sacred cow

Cheek to jowl

Peaches and cream


A long shot

Miss the boat

Go to Zhang Xin's column


About the author:

Zhang Xin has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.