Chinese Idiom Stories
Three People Make a Tiger
During the Warring States Period, China was divided into many small kingdoms which were constantly attacking each other. As an attempt to create harmony, the kingdoms agreed to exchange princes as hostages.
The prince of the kingdom of Wei was to be sent to the kingdom of Chao, and the minister Pang Tsung wished to accompany him. As he was leaving, Pang Tsung asked the king, "If someone were to tell His Majesty that there was a tiger in the street, would His Majesty believe it?" The king replied that he would not. However, when asked if he would believe a second person; the king answered that he would half-believe, and when asked if he would believe a third person, the king replied that he would.
At this, Pang Tsung said, "Everyone ought to know that there could not possibly be a tiger in the street. However, after having heard three people say that there was one, you would believe that it was so. If after I'm gone, someone were to say something bad about me, I hope that His Majesty would not believe it."
Today, the idiom "Three People Make a Tiger" means that rumors are really frightful things, and often hide the truth.