Let a thousand flowers bloom


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Let one thousand flowers bloom'?

Encourage many ideas from many sources.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Let one thousand flowers bloom'?

Let a thousand flowers bloom is a common misquotation of Chairman Mao Zedong’s “Let a hundred flowers blossom”. This slogan was used during the period of approximately six weeks in the summer of 1957 when the Chinese intelligentsia were invited to criticize the political system then obtaining in Communist China.

The full quotation, taken from a speech of Mao’s in Peking in February 1957, is:

“Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.”

It is sometimes suggested that the initiative was a deliberate attempt to flush out dissidents by encouraging them to show themselves as critical of the regime. Whether or not it was a deliberate trap isn’t clear but it is the case that many of those who put forward views that were unwelcome to Mao were executed.

Trend of let a thousand flowers bloom in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.