Proverbs: page 1

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1. "A big tree attracts the woodsman's axe."

  • Meaning: Those who make themselves seem great will attract bad things

2. "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

3. "A bad workman always blames his tools."

  • Meaning: People never blame themselves for what they do

4. " A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush."

5. "A burnt child dreads the fire."

  • Meaning: A person who has had bad experiences will shy away from certain things.
  • This Proverb intimates, That it is natural for all living Creatures, whether rational or irrational,
    to consult their own Security, and Self-Preservation; and whether they act by Instinct or Reason, it still
    tends to some care of avoiding those things that have already done them an Injury.

6. "A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor." (African proverb)

  • Meaning: calm times do not show anything; it's the tough times that make you what

7. "A closed mouth catches no flies."

  • Meaning: It is often safer to keep one's mouth shut.

8. " A coward dies a thousand times before his death. The valiant tastes of death but once."

  • From William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
  • Possible interpretation: The brave have less to fear than the cowardly. Also: The damage to the soul and pride of the coward for his actions are held in comparison to the life of fulfilment had by the brave. Also: Worrying about a forthcoming disaster may cause as much (or even more) pain as the disaster when it occurs (but does neither change it nor make it easier).

9. "A fool and his money are soon parted."

10. "A friend in need is a friend indeed."

  • Meaning: A genuine friend is with you even in times of trouble.
  • Alternative meaning: A person will be very friendly if they need something from you.

11. "A friend to all is a friend to none."

  • Being a friend to everyone makes none of your friends feel special
  • Interpretation: Friendship with all is impossible; disagreement and friction in relations are natural.

12. "A good man in an evil society seems the greatest villain of all."

  • Meaning: society is what makes good good and bad bad

13. "A half truth is a whole lie."

14. "A jack of all trades is master of none."

15. "A lie can be halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on."

  • A great lie may be widely accepted before the truth comes to light.

16. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing."

  • "A little Learning is a dangerous Thing;
    Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
    There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
    And drinking largely sobers us again". Alexander Pope

17. "A loaded wagon makes no noise."

  • People with real money don't talk about it.

18. "A penny saved is a penny earned."

  • Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

19. "A pot of milk is ruined by a drop of poison."

20. "A stitch in time saves nine."

  • Fix the small problem now before it becomes larger and harder to fix.

21. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

  • From Isle of Beauty by Thomas Haynes Bayly
  • Interpretation: We miss people when we are separated from them.

22. "Act today only tomorrow is too late."

23. "Actions speak louder than words."

24. "Advice most needed is least heeded."

25. "All the world is your country, to do good is your religion."

26. "All for one and one for all."

  • Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

27. "All's well that ends well."

  • A play by William Shakespeare

28. "All that glisters is not gold."

  • William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, act II, scene 7
  • Possible interpretation: Not everything is what it appears to be.

29. "All things come to him who waits."

  • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All play and no work makes Jack a mere toy.

30. "An empty vessel makes the most noise."

  • Meaning an empty head/brain makes more sound than a full (intelligent?) one

31. "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind."

32. "Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies."

  • Alternative: Ask no questions and hear no lies.

33. "As soon as a man is born,he begins to die."

34. "A watched pot never boils."

  • Main interpretation: Time seems to pass quicker when you aren't consciously waiting for something
  • Possible interpretation: Worrying over something can make the task seem to take longer than it should.


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35. "Barking dogs seldom bite."

  • Meaning: People who are busy complaining rarely take more concrete hostile action.
  • Alternate meaning: Those who cast threats are seldom man enough to carry them out.

36. "Before criticizing a man, walk a mile in his shoes."

  • Meaning: One should not criticize people without understanding their situation.

37. "Better late than never."

  • Meaning: It's better to make an effort to keep an appointment than to give up altogether when you discover you will be late.

38. "Better safe than sorry."

  • Meaning: It is better to take precautions when its possible that something can go amiss then to regret doing nothing later if something should indeed go wrong.

39. "Better the devil you know (than the one you don't)."

40. "Blood is thicker than water."

  • Meaning: Bonds between family members are stronger than other relationships.


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41. "Can't see the forest for the trees."

  • You can't see the big picture because of all the details.
  • You can't see the forest when you're in it.
  • One can only identify the problem when they are not in it.

42. "Chance favours the prepared mind."

43. "Charity begins at home."

44. "Clothes don't make the man."

  • Possible interpretation: Appearances can be deceptive.
  • Variant: A man is not a man simply for his wealth.

45. "Common sense ain't common."

46. "Cut your coat according to your cloth."

47. "Cleanliness is next to godliness."

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48. "A dull pencil is greater than the sharpest memory."

49. "Damned if you do, damned if you don't."

  • Meaning: Refers to a situation where both possibilities will lead to harm or blame.

50. "Desperate times call for desperate measures."

51. "Does life stop when a pen is out of ink?"

52. "Don't ask God to guide your footsteps if you're not willing to move your feet."

53. "Don't bite the hand that feeds you."

  • Meaning: Behave deferentially to those who provide for you.

54. "Don't burn your bridges before they're crossed."

  • Meaning: Do not act in such a way as to leave yourself no alternatives.

55. " Don't count your chickens before they're hatched."

56. "Don't bite off more than you can chew."

  • Meaning: Do not take on more responsibility than you can handle at any one time.

57. "Don't cry over spilt milk."

  • Meaning: Don't worry about things that have already happened

58. "Don't judge a book by its cover."

  • Meaning: Do not judge by appearances.

59. "Don't make a mountain out of a molehill."

  • Don't exaggerate small things / Don't make a big deal out of something minor.

60. " Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

  • Meaning: Do not rest all your hopes on one eventuality; plan for several cases.

61. "Don't put the cart before the horse."

  • Meaning: Do things in the correct order.

62. "Don't spit into the wind."

63. "Don't take life too seriously; you'll never get out of it alive."

64. "Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom."

65. "Don't bring a knife to a gun fight."

66. "Dreams are not the ones which come when you sleep, but they are the ones which will not let you sleep".


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67. "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise."

68. "Early bird catches the worm."

69. "Ends justify the means."

70. "Every cloud has a silver lining."

  • Meaning: Every negative thing has positive aspects.

71. "Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die."

72. "Empty vessels make most noise/sound."

  • Meaning: Those who lack intelligence speak the most/loudest.

73. "Education is a progressive discovering of our own ignorance."


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74. "Faint heart never won a fair lady."

75. "Failure is the stepping stone for success."

76. "Falling down does not signify failure but staying there does."

77. "First come, first served."

78. "First deserve, then desire."

79. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

80. "For want of a nail the horseshoe was lost."

  • Complete version: for want of a nail the horseshoe was lost, for want of a horseshoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the rider was lost, for want of a rider the battle was lost, for want of a battle the kingdom was lost, and all for want of a horseshoe nail.

81. "Fortune favors the brave."

  • Possible meaning: Courageous people make their own luck.

82. "Failure is not falling down, you fail when you dont get back up."

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83. "Go with the flow"

84. "Give and take is fair play."

85. "Give a dog a bad name and hang him."

86. "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

  • to learn a lesson is a far better reward than to win a prize early in the GAME
  • it is better to know how to help yourself than to beg from others

87. "'Give credit where credit is due."

  • Variant: Give the Devil his due.

88. "Give, and ye shall receive."

89. "Give him an inch and he'll take a yard."

90. "Give people a common enemy and hopefully they will work together."

91. "Good fences make good neighbors."

92. "Good men are hard to find."

93. "Great minds think alike, but fools seldom differ."

94. "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."

  • Albert Einstein

95. "Green leaves and brown leaves fall from the same tree."

  Many possible interpretations

  • Things change over time.
  • If you are good at one aspect of a skill, you should be skilled at the other aspects, such as a painter who says he can't draw, yet both painting and drawing are aspects of art.
  • No matter what the the outside is, we are all the same inside.

96. "Give respect, take respect."


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97. "He who is good at excuses is seldom good at anything else."

98. "Half a loaf is better than none."

  • Alternative version: Be thankful for what you've got.

99. "Handsome is as handsome does."

100. "Happy wife, happy life."

101."Haste makes waste".

102. "He who dares wins."

  • Variation: 'Who Dares Wins' - British SAS motto

103. "He who fails to prepare, prepares to fail."

  • Variation: He who fails to plan, plans to fail.

104. "Health is better than wealth."

105. "He who fails to study the past is doomed to repeat it."

106. "He who hesitates is lost."

107. "He who laughs last laughs best."

  • Variation: He who laughs last laughs longest.

108. "He who laughs last is the slowest to think."

109. "He who lives too fast, goes to his grave too soon."

110. "He who will steal an egg will steal an ox."

111. "Help yourself and God will help you."

112. "He who sleeps forgets his hunger."

113. "Home is where the heart is."

114. "Honesty is the best policy."

115. "Hope for the best, expect the worst."

  • Alternate version: Pray for the best, prepare for the worst.

116. "Hope is life."

117. "Helping Hands are better than Praying Lips"

  • Mother Theres

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