For today’s Monday Mandarin Meanings, I asked my school liaison (in China), Tan Lingzhao, to tell me an idiom with “蚂蚁” (ants) in it. She gave me:
This is “rè guō shàng de mǎyǐ“, or “ants on a hot pan”. Quite reasonably, this phrase is used for somebody who is very anxious. I normally break down the meaning of the characters, often with lighthearted interpretations, but here they are mostly straightforward. “热锅” is “pan”, “上” is “on”, and “蚂蚁”, as already mentioned, is “ant” or “ants”. But 的 is really exciting! It’s a grammar particle.