宁缺毋滥 – ning4que1wu2lan4
rather/prefer – do without/lack/have nothing/be short of – not – inferior/no good/excessive
This idiom essentially means “rather have nothing than something second rate” or even something like “I won’t settle for second best”.
I first came across this idiom when speaking with a Chinese man about girlfriends. In Chinese culture there is a lot of pressure on people to get married and start a family. This pressure normally comes from parents. He didn’t have a girlfriend at the time we were talking and he used this idiom to explain why.
I thought this would be a very useful idiom and can be used in many situations. He just happened to use it by saying “I’m not gonna just marry anyone for the sake of getting married”. He was going to wait and make sure whomever he marries one day will be compatible and of high quality.
Therefore this chengyu can be used whenever you want to express the idea that you only want the best or something of high quality. If you would rather have nothing than something sub standard this idiom is perfect