者也之乎 zhe3 ye3 zhi1 hu1
[strings of archaic particles]: 'incomprehensible gibberish'

學海無涯 xue2 hai3 wu2 ya2
"learning, a sea without a horizon": 'so much to learn'

博士買驢 (三紙無驢) bo2 shi4 mai3 lu:2 (san1 zhi3 wu2 lu:2)
"a doctor buying a donkey (3 pages, no donkey)": 'pointless pompous speech'
顏之推 Yan ZhiTui (A.D. 531-595), of 北齊 Northern Qi, in his 顏氏家訓 Familial Instructions of the Yan Clan, tells the story of a pretentious scholar going to buy a donkey. He insists on writing a contract for the purchase, and though he produces a 3-page contract, it never actually mentions any donkey!

青窮竹馬 ren2 qiong2 zhi4 duan3
"people poor, will weak": 'poverty stunts ambition'

追本窮源 zhui1 ben3 qiong2 yuan2
"chase the root to its ultimate source":'get to the bottom of s.t'

理屈詞窮 li3 qu1 ci2 qiong2
"reason crooked and words exhausted": 'without a leg to stand on'

安富恤窮 an1 fu4 xu4 qiong2
"pacify the rich and relieve the poor": 'make everybody happy (?)'

殞身不恤 yun3 shen1 bu2 xu4
"sacrifice yourself without worry": 'die without regrets'

塞翁失馬 sai4 weng1 shi1 ma3
"old sai lost a horse": 'a blessing in disguise' (or a curse...)
The lost mare returned with a beautiful stallion. Riding the stallion, he broke his hip. Because he was lame, he did not join the battle that slaughtered all his neighbors.

汗牛充棟 han4 niu2 chong1 dong4
"sweaty oxes and full to the rafters": 'so many books'
enough to make an ox sweat or fill a house.

舊調重彈 jiu4 diao4 chong2 tan2
"play the same old tunes": 'harp on the same old stuff' ('beat a dead horse'?)

步調一致 bu4 diao4 yi2 zhi4
"step to the same beat": 'united in action'

調嘴學舌 tiao2 zui3 xue2 she2
verbal dexterity used to sow discord, to incite trouble between people

風調雨順 feng1 diao4 yu3 shun4
good weather

孤芳自賞 gu1 fang1 zi4 shang3
"lone flower admiring itself": 'narcissism'

檻花籠鶴 jian4 hua1 long2 he4
"caged flower, basket crane": 'trapped'

走馬看花 zou3 ma3 kan4 hua1
"riding a horse, looking at flowers": 'seeing matters superficially'

軟硬兼施 ruan3 ying4 jian1 shi1
"use both soft and hard": 'use the carrot and the stick';'an iron hand in a velvet glove'

威逼利誘 wei1 bi1 li4 you4
"threaten and bribe"

雷公打豆腐,揀軟的欺 lei2 gong1 da3 dou4 fu, jian3 ruan3 de qi1
"the god of thunder strikes bean curd, a bully picks an easy target"

巧奪天工 qiao3 duo2 tian1 gong1
"clever plunders heaven": 'the wise learn from nature' (or "serendipity"?)
The story credits ZhenShi (甄氏) in the final years of Eastern Han, who coiled her hair like a snake. [Actually, my teacher has suggest that this phrase simply refers to naturally skilled people.]

青梅竹馬 qing1 mei2 zhu2 ma3
"green plums and bamboo horses": 'childhood innocence (lost/betrayed?)'
During the Jin dynasty, HuanWen (桓溫), jealous of his old friend YenHao's (殷浩) accomplishments, badmouthed him to the emperor, until he was removed to a distant land. He did this either despite observing that they used to eat and play together, or exactly because he was jealous when YenHao would take his stick horse when they were kids too. [My teacher here suggests that this phrase now refers primarily to members of the opposite sex who were friends when young!]

大器晚成 da4 qi4 wan3 cheng2
"big equipment slowly develops": 'a late bloomer'

含沙射影 han2 sha1 she4 ying4
"sucking sand to shoot at shadows": 'maliciously criticizing someone'
There is a mythical chinese creature which looked like a turtle with wings and horns, and if it spit sand on your shadow, you would get sick.

價值連城 jia4 zhi2 lian2 cheng2
"worth as much as a city"
(The story would again seem to add a dimension:) During the Spring-Autumn period, in the country of Chu, BianHe (卞和) found an unpolished piece of jade. He offered it to King Li, but the the king's jade craftsman said it was just a worthless stone. As punishment, BianHe's left foot was cut off. When King Wu ascended to the throne, BianHe again offered the stone. The craftsmen again said it was worthless, and BianHe had his right foot removed. Finally, when King Wen ascended to the throne, he had the stone cut open and it was discovered to be incredibly valuable.

葉公好龍 she4 gong1 hao4 long2
"SheGong liked dragons": 'be careful what you wish for'
Refers to a character who collected dragon paraphernalia but was completely terrified when one who heard about it came to find him.

殺雞取卵 sha1 ji1 qu3 luan3
"kill the chicken to get the eggs": 'self-defeat from excessive greed'
The chicken laid golden eggs and the old lady who owned her wanted to get them all immediately.

開門見山 kai1 men2 jian4 shan1
"open the door and see the mountain": 'to get right to the point'
(著邊,鋒利)

切中要點 qie4 zhong4 yao4 dian3
切中要害 qie1 zhong1 yao4 hai4
cut/stick to the point
(are the tone changes indicated above really necessary/correct?)

答非所問 da2 fei1 suo3 wen4
"answer not what was asked": 'irrelevant answer'

畫龍點睛 hua4 long2 dian3 jing1
"paint a dragon and dot the eyes": 'add the vital finishing touch'; 'clinch the pot'

點睛之筆 dian3 jing1 zhi1 bi3
"the brush stroke that dots the eyes": 'the final touch'; 'the crucial point'
(點睛:dot the eyes; the crucial point)