叶公好龙 yè gōng hào lóng - Ye Gong loves dragons
Meaning: This idiom is used to describe someone who pretends to love and admire what he really fears.
叶公 yè gōng - Name (Phonetic: yeah gong)
好 hào - to be fond of (Phonetic: how)
龙 lóng - dragon (Phonetic: long)
In the Spring and Autumn Period, there lived in Chu a person named Chu Zhuliang, who addressed himself as “Lord Ye”.
It’s said that this Lord Ye was very fond of dragons. The walls had dragons painted on them. The beams and pillars and the doors and the windows were all carved with them.
As a result, his love for dragons was spread out. When the real dragon in heaven heard of this Lord Ye, he was deeply moved. He decided to visit Lord Ye to thank him.
You might think Lord Ye would have been very happy to see a real dragon. But, in fact, at the sight of the creature, he was scared out of his wits and ran away as fast as he could.
From then on, people knew that Lord Ye only loved pictures or cravings which look like dragons, not the real thing. Figuratively it has been a satire on inconsistency of deeds and words.
by Liu Xiang in the Han Dynasty