If you have glasses for counting, you may have noticed how many leather straps were used to hold up the wood: yes, three on the long one and two on the short one! Thus, “three on the long and two on the short” may have referred to these strips rather than the pieces of wood. Although there are six in all, the coffin lid is usually added after death, so “three in long and two in short” referred to death, possibly from a coffin. However, “three long and two short” does not always mean sure death, but can also refer to accidental disasters or life-threatening accidents. In fact, these leather straps were considered unlucky because of their association with coffins, so it is not difficult to understand why “三长两短” once evoked a vivid image of unhappiness, even after the straps were replaced by nails. The literal meaning of “sān cháng liǎng duǎn” means an uncovered coffin. In its simplest form, the casket consists of six wooden parts: the lid and bottom are usually called heaven and earth, respectively, and the parts on the left and right are the sun and the moon; these four parts are long. Gē ge lí kāi jiā de shí hou nǎi nɑi zhǔi fù zài sān ，shēng pà tā yǒu ge sān cháng liǎng. The short, square front and back are called the picnic head and tail, respectively. Thank you for signing up for a free live lesson on eChineseLearning. Our academic coordinator will contact you within one business day to schedule a free lesson. In ancient times, they were even tied with leather straps, as shown in the picture below. When my brother left home, my grandmother told “him” to be careful about many things because “she” was afraid “he” would get into serious trouble. Enter the recipients’ current email addresses. Enter the recipients’ email addresses. Sometimes also used as a euphemism for someone’s death in hypothetical or fiction. This article cannot be e-mailed.