[The wages of sin is death] Is this a popular idiom in English?

I am subbing a C-drama and there’s an idiom “多行不义必自毙”, which means literally “A man who has done a lot of evil things will ruin himself eventually”.

But the literal meaning might be too line for a line of subtitle. And I found in e-dict this idiom “The wages of sin is death”, which is from The New Testament.

But I am not a native English, therefore I don’t know whether it’s popular or not. And whether it’s only limited to the realm of Christians.

Would you like to share your ideas?

Thank you.


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I am not an English native either, but with back and forth translating I found this one, which would be closer to the Chinese idiom. “The sins of the past catch up with somebody.”

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Can’t you say it more simply, without using a proverb?
“He’ll surely pay for his sins someday”?

(We also say “karma is a bitch”, but I don’t think it’s appropriate)


One who persists in evil will bring about self-destruction. :slight_smile:


LOL… Though it’s not appropriate for this subtitling purpose, it’s cutely apt. :sweat_smile:

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Thank you irmar,

your solution sounds fluid~


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Karma is a bitch! Yeah, I’ve heard about the idiom several times.

Is it often used in romantic relationships?

Karma, something like retribution?

Thank you~

this is actually Romans 6:23. Biblical verse.

I would go with the more literal translation and it would depend also on the era of the drama. Modern drama - something more flamboyant perhaps. Or something well, less obviously from another culture. Unless you’re translating the words of a Christian missionary.

Anyway - there’s no reason not to use the literal translation unless you think it’s awkward given the context - and the context and how the line fits in with rest of the scene would also be the call of your editor eventually and ultimately.

Generally - that line is a bit stilted for general use. Might even be something like “what goes around, comes around” or something less pedantic sounding.

Sub what you feel sounds right to you, refer to your editor on your drama, and no worries. :slight_smile:


Hi dear,

Do you mean that using a biblical verse to translate a Chinese historical drama line is weird?

Thank you for your idea.


Laura, lol. Whatever you use, the above is not appropriate, esp. if it’s a historical or period drama. I believe @irmar only posted it for casual discussion fun as an equivalent meaning. For a good laugh, I responded but did state it’s NOT for subtitling purpose. For casual discussion, lol, the above is apt for the said idiom…

I’m sure you’ll do fine with whatever you decide to use. If you still need help, give me the drama, episode and timing, and I’ll take a look. Cheers.

You’re right. It’s something like retribution.

It also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect).

It’s a well-known Buddhist teaching, as well as others, like Hinduism. Not everyone believes in karma, depending on their religious leanings.

After some time I was thinking of another idiom, but I can’t say if it is fitting the situation not knowing the context. “Punishement follows swiftly.” Or “… to be on the road of ruin …”

Princess Agents.
Ep. 54

I changed it to “Finally, he paid for his sins”.
I am only a subber, so the final version is up to the editors.

Thank you.

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I would go with the actual translation of the idiom:
“persisting in evil brings about self-destruction”

A very helpful tool for any idioms is MDGB online dictionary, it catches most of the idioms perfectly.

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I also am curious about this, but why would or do they take sayings out of the Bible? ok now that was asked, lets turn this around a bit, now why do others take buddas sayings and use them, no matter the culture, religions, I have seen take from Budda to Christ to others and use sayings they used, so we all do it and dont realize we do it. I have heard this most of my life; give a person a fish and they will eat it, but teach them to fish and they can eat a lifetime, stuff like that. yeah its interesting how these things come about, eye for an eye? I heard it on oneof the dramas, so much stuff, I really don’t believe in soul hopping(reiincarnation) but whose to say???

Jade cloud, Karma, fate? etc. I still wonder about it, even reincarnation time travel etc. I won’t knock it for sure… oh yeah destiny, I like those little “proverbs” snuck in these many dramas, whose to say karma or destiny or fate isn’t so? sure curiosity in my bag and I want to find out one day heres one whatever you sow, you will reap, just like the proverb, about the guy doing the evil, It will assuredly come back to you. a lot of these sayings are uplifting if I may say so, be it Jesus or Budda or confusus!