Greek Proverbs

Proverbs from all Greek speaking parts of the world. A proverb is a simple and concrete saying, popularly known and repeated, that expresses a truth based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity.

The Greeks or Hellenes (ΈλληνεςÉllines [ˈelines]) are an ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world.

Greek Proverbs

A bad dog gets the mange but he doesn’t die of it. – Greek Proverb

A bad master quarrels even with his broom. – Greek Proverb

A bad year has thirteen months. – Greek Proverb

A beard signifies lice, not brains. – Greek Proverb

A beautiful girl’s cheeks are the foes of her chastity. – Greek Proverb

A beggar never becomes a giver. – Greek Proverb

A bride has no place at her inlaws’ without the groom. – Greek Proverb

A cap sewn with pearls is not for a sore head. – Greek Proverb

A cat with gloves never catches mice. – Greek Proverb

A crow does not lay dove’s eggs. – Greek Proverbs

A curse spoken is like a donkey; it always follows its master. – Greek Proverb

A different man, a different taste. – Greek Proverb

A donkey is asked to a wedding either to carry water or to bring wood. – Greek Proverb

A dove has no place amongst the crows. – Greek Proverb

A drop of wisdom is better than a sea of gold. – Greek Proverb

A drowning man takes hold of his own hair. – Greek Proverb

A fat belly did not invent gun powder. – Greek Proverb

A favor ages sooner than anything else. – Greek Proverb

A fly can drive away horses. – Greek Proverb

A fool throws a stone into the well and a thousand wise men cannot take it out. – Greek Proverb

A fox is not caught twice in the same snare. – Greek Proverb

A fox knows much; a hedgehog one great thing. – Greek Proverb

A friend is better than a thousand silver pieces. – Greek Proverb

A friend who leads one astray is an enemy. – Greek Proverb

A gift, though small, is welcome. – Greek Proverbs

A goat thief came along and they put him in jail. – Greek Proverb

A good anvil is not afraid of the hammer. – Greek Proverb

A good bird begins chirping while in the egg. – Greek Proverb

A good man says no slowly; a wise man says no at once. – Greek Proverb

A good youth, a good old man. – Greek Proverb

A guest unwanted comes at meal time. – Greek Proverb

A heart that loves is always young. – Greek Proverb

A hungry bear does not perform. – Greek Proverb

A kiss must last long to be enjoyed. – Greek Proverb

A late marriage, orphaned children. – Greek Proverb

A lazy tailor finds his thread too long. – Greek Proverb

A library is a repository of medicine for the mind. – Greek Proverb

A little bait catches a large fish. – Greek Proverb

A lucky man fares better than a brave man. – Greek Proverb

A lucky person is someone who plants pebbles and harvests potatoes. – Greek Proverb

A mad bull is not to be tied up with a packthread. – Greek Proverb

A man who does not demand his rights is buried alive. – Greek Proverb

A man who throws stones at himself is not to be pitied. – Greek Proverb

A man with a skinny wife is a deceitful man. – Greek Proverb

A man without patience is like a lamp without oil. – Greek Proverb

A master speaks but few words. – Greek Proverb

A meal for the priest, a mouthful for the deacon. – Greek Proverb

A merry life ends in a poor man’s will. – Greek Proverb

A miser and a liar bargain quickly. – Greek Proverb

A miser and a liar come to terms quickly. – Greek Proverb

A miser is ever in want. – Greek Proverb

A newlywed girl takes pride in her pregnancy. – Greek Proverb

A person can be as sweet as honey or as heavy as steel. – Greek Proverbs

A pitcher is taken to the fountain many times, but one time it is not. – Greek Proverb

A pomegranate never tastes like a fig. – Greek Proverb

A poor man buys what he can afford; a rich man what he wants. – Greek Proverb

A poor man who takes a rich wife has a ruler, not a wife. – Greek Proverb

A poor man with intelligence is wealthy. – Greek Proverb

A priest blesses his own bread first. – Greek Proverb

A priest does not accept another priest. – Greek Proverb

A real scoundrel turned up and they took off their hats to him. – Greek Proverb

A secret stays long in darkness but it will see the light. – Greek Proverb

A small evil may be a great good. – Greek Proverb

A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. – Greek Proverb

A son-in-law never becomes a son and a daughter-in-law never quite becomes a daughter. – Greek Proverb

A starving donkey does not count the blows. – Greek Proverb

A stout bearded woman always bears something malicious. – Greek Proverb

A thousand blows on another man’s back don’t hurt. – Greek Proverb

A thousand people cannot undress a naked person. – Greek Proverb

A truth spoken before its time is dangerous. – Greek Proverb

A turning wheel does not get rusty. – Greek Proverb

A vineless vineyard and smooth-running love hold out no charm. – Greek Proverb

A well-fed man does not believe the hungry one. – Greek Proverb

A wheel doesn’t turn if it isn’t greased. – Greek Proverb

A wheel that turns gathers no rust. – Greek Proverb

A white dog is like a black dog. – Greek Proverb

A wise man would rather die than close his ears to the voice of reason. – Greek Proverb

A wolf and a sheep never agree. – Greek Proverb

A wolf is happy during a storm. – Greek Proverb

A wolf may grow old and his hair turn gray, but his mind doesn’t change to his dying day. – Greek Proverb

A wolf selects its prey from what has been accounted for. – Greek Proverb

A woman prefers a man without money to money without a man. – Greek Proverb

A word out of season may mar a whole lifetime. – Greek Proverb

A wounded horse trembles when he sees the saddle. – Greek Proverb

A young man should not marry yet, an old man not at all. – Greek Proverb

Act quickly, think slowly. – Greek Proverb

Add not fire to fire. – Greek Proverb

Advising a fool is like striking cold iron. – Greek Proverb

Affairs sleep soundly when fortune is present. – Greek Proverb

After the war, aid. – Greek Proverb

Age brings experience, and a good mind wisdom. – Greek Proverb

Alexander the Great was not very tall. – Greek Proverb

Alexander the Great wasn’t tall. – Greek Proverb

All evil deeds are repaid on earth. – Greek Proverb

All evils save death may be amended. – Greek Proverb

All receive advice. Only the wise profit from it. All receive advice. – Greek Proverb

All the old things seem beautiful, and the rich men wise. – Greek Proverb

All things good to know are difficult to learn. – Greek Proverb

An eagle’s old age is worth a sparrow’s youth. – Greek Proverb

An empty belly knows no songs. – Greek Proverb

An hour brings what a year does not. – Greek Proverb

An iron rod bends while it is hot. – Greek Proverb

An old cat likes young mice. – Greek Proverb

An old enemy never becomes a friend. – Greek Proverb

An old fox is not caught in a trap. – Greek Proverb

Greek Proverbs

An open enemy is better than a false friend. – Greek Proverb

An uninvited donkey has no place at a wedding. – Greek Proverb

Any wood will do to make a signpost. – Greek Proverb

Appear always what you are and a little less. – Greek Proverb

As mother and father, so daughter and son. – Greek Proverb

Ask for advice but do what you think is best. – Greek Proverb

At the deaf man’s door, knock as much as you like. – Greek Proverb

Be thine enemy an ant, see in him an elephant. – Greek Proverb

Before you can score, you must first have a goal. – Greek Proverb

Better a drop of wisdom than an ocean of gold. – Greek Proverb

Better a light stomach than a heavy conscience. – Greek Proverb

Better a sick body than an ignorant mind. – Greek Proverb

Better a snake’s tongue to sting you than a man’s. – Greek Proverb

Better be a nobleman’s servant than a poor man’s wife. – Greek Proverb

Better brains in the head than riches and confusion. – Greek Proverb

Better cabbage and peace than dainties and fretting. – Greek Proverb

Better five coins in hand than ten in prospect. – Greek Proverb

Better luck than knowledge. – Greek Proverb

Better ten stabs than ten bad words. – Greek Proverb

Better the first of its kind than the last. – Greek Proverb

Better the friend we can see than the money we cannot. – Greek Proverb

Better to keep silent than to talk too much. – Greek Proverb

Better today’s egg than tomorrow’s chicken. – Greek Proverb

Birth, ancestry, and that which you yourself have not achieved can hardly be called your own. – Greek Proverb

But mortal bliss will never come sincere Pleasure may lead, but grief blow brings up the rear. – Greek Proverb

By labor are good things obtained. – Greek Proverb

Call no one blessed before his end. – Greek Proverb

Careless merchant, future beggar. – Greek Proverb

Careless mind, double work. – Greek Proverb

Cats and monks like fish; married women, kisses; and young girls. – Greek Proverb

Character is habit long continued. – Greek Proverb

Cherish what you have and struggle for better. – Greek Proverb

Citizens’ sins are a city’s disgrace. – Greek Proverb

Constant dripping will wear away a stone. – Greek Proverb

Curses are like chickens; they come home to roost. – Greek Proverb

Cut the thread in the middle to find an end. – Greek Proverb

Dance alone and you can jump all you wish. – Greek Proverbs

Death is never at a loss for occasions. – Greek Proverb

Deeds are fruits, words are only leaves. – Greek Proverb

Do not compare a fly with an elephant. – Greek Proverb

Do not lean on a worm-eaten staff. – Greek Proverb

Do not marry your superior. – Greek Proverb

Don’t be afraid of a dog that barks. – Greek Proverb

Don’t keep any secrets of yourself from yourself. – Greek Proverb

Donkey tied, master tranquil. – Greek Proverb

Don’t be afraid of a dog that barks. – Greek Proverb

Don’t dangle by one slim hope. – Greek Proverb

Don’t hear one and judge two. – Greek Proverbs

Don’t keep any secrets of yourself from yourself. – Greek Proverb

Don’t put water into somebody else’s wine. – Greek Proverb

Don’t sprout up where you have not been planted. – Greek Proverb

Don’t step even on an ant. – Greek Proverb

Don’t trouble a quiet snake. – Greek Proverb

Drop by drop the jug is filled. – Greek Proverb

Drops of water eat up stones. – Greek Proverb

Ducks always know where a lake can be found. – Greek Proverb

Each shameful deed carries with it its excuse. – Greek Proverb

Eat and drink with your relatives; do business with strangers. – Greek Proverb

Eat and drink with your relatives; do business with strangers. – Greek Proverb

Eat beans for lunch and have no friends at the dinner table. – Greek Proverb

Either dance well or quit the ballroom. – Greek Proverb

Either remain quiet, or say things that improve the silence. – Greek Proverb

Empty barrels and insignificant people always make the most noise. – Greek Proverb

Endeavor to bear the ignorance of fortune with patience. – Greek Proverb

Envy accomplishes nothing. – Greek Proverb

Even a wolf will not stay – Where sounds no bleat to offer hope of prey. – Greek Proverb

Even from a foe a man may learn wisdom. – Greek Proverb

Even from an enemy a man can learn wisdom. – Greek Proverb

Every argument has its answer. – Greek Proverb

Every country is a fatherland. – Greek Proverb

Every liar has another liar as a witness. – Greek Proverb

Every obstacle is for the best. – Greek Proverb

Every story can be told in different ways. – Greek Proverb

Every tale can be told in a different way. – Greek Proverb

Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow. – Greek Proverb

Everyone is his own doctor. – Greek Proverb

Everything ancient is to be respected. – Greek Proverb

Everything in its proper time; even fertilizer for the cabbages. – Greek Proverb

Excess mars perfection. – Greek Proverb

Fear of the law gives safety. – Greek Proverb

Feed a wolf in the winter and he will devour you in the summer. – Greek Proverb

Fence your own vineyard, and keep your eyes from those of others. – Greek Proverb

Fire and straw do not go together. – Greek Proverb

Fire straightens a crooked bar. – Greek Proverb

First secure an independent income, then practice virtue. – Greek Proverb

Fish is not caught without a bait. – Greek Proverb

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, prepare to die. – Greek Proverb

For lazy people it is always party time. – Greek Proverb

For mortals vanished from the day’s sweet light I shed no tear rather I mourn for those who day and night live in death’s fear. – Greek Proverb

Friendship lasts as long as the pot boils. – Greek Proverb

From a broken violin do not expect fine music. – Greek Proverb

From a crow’s beak comes a crow’s voice. – Greek Proverb

From a thorn comes a rose, and from a rose comes a thorn. – Greek Proverb

From fools and children you will learn the truth. – Greek Proverb

From the lips starts the word and reaches thousands. – Greek Proverb

Gain does not give as much pleasure as loss gives grief. – Greek Proverb

Give me today and you may keep tomorrow. – Greek Proverb

God delays, but never forgets. – Greek Proverb

God gave us teeth to hold back our tongue. – Greek Proverb

God pursues sinners. – Greek Proverb

Golden coins make our crooked windows look straight. – Greek Proverb

Good accounts make good friends. – Greek Proverb

Good scales bring good customers. – Greek Proverb

Grass does not grow on stones. – Greek Proverb

Gray hair is a sign of age, not of wisdom. – Greek Proverb

Great abilities produce great vices as well as virtues. – Greek Proverb

Great birth is a very poor dish at table. – Greek Proverb

Great dangers lead to great honors. – Greek Proverb

Great talent takes time to ripen. – Greek Proverb

Greeks only agree with each other about going to the toilet. – Greek Proverb

Hand washes hand, and finger, finger. – Greek Proverb

Haste and careful work never go together. – Greek Proverb

Have a clean heart and you may walk near the altar. – Greek Proverb

He who becomes a sheep is eaten by the wolf. – Greek Proverb

He who begrudges the cat’s food finds his clothes eaten by the mice. – Greek Proverb

He who cannot bear misfortune is truly unfortunate. – Greek Proverb

He who does not esteem silver is not worthy to have silver. – Greek Proverb

He who doesn’t want to make bread sifts the flour the whole day. – Greek Proverb

He who eats and drinks with the rich leaves the table hungry. – Greek Proverb

He who finds a thing rejoices and he who owns a thing brags. – Greek Proverb

He who has a beard has a comb. – Greek Proverb

He who has been angry becomes cool again. – Greek Proverb

He who has money does what he pleases. – Greek Proverb

He who has nothing else to hold on to, will even grasp at a drawn sword. – Greek Proverb

He who has patience gets what he wants. – Greek Proverb

He who is born in jail loves jail. – Greek Proverb

He who is outside the door has already a good part of his journey behind him. – Greek Proverb

He who owns vineyards admires them and he who sees them covets them. – Greek Proverb

He who plies many trades remains without a house. – Greek Proverb

He who plunders with a little boat is a pirate; he who plunders with a fleet is a conqueror. – Greek Proverb

He who respects his parents never dies. – Greek Proverb

He who revealeth his secret maketh himself a slave. – Greek Proverb

He who seeks many things loses even a few. – Greek Proverb

He who speaks much is sure to talk nonsense. – Greek Proverb

He who strains himself grows old quickly. – Greek Proverb

He who suffers much will know much. – Greek Proverb

He who thinks the worst usually is right. – Greek Proverb

He who wants to be happy must stay at home. – Greek Proverb

He who was born in a prison remembers a prison. – Greek Proverb

He who would be happy should stay at home. – Greek Proverb

Heed not all the words of the doctor nor yet of the confessor. – Greek Proverb

Hostile and envious are the eyes of neighbors. – Greek Proverb

How you make your bed is how you are going to sleep. – Greek Proverb

Hunger is the teacher of many. – Greek Proverbs

Hunger makes forts surrender. – Greek Proverb

Hunger teaches many things. – Greek Proverb

Greek Proverbs

I feel pain that envy is exchanged for beautiful deeds. – Greek Proverb

I hate a jovial table companion with a good memory. – Greek Proverb

I have found it. [Eureka.] – Greek Proverb

I send thee myrrh, not that thou mayest be by it perfumed, but it perfumed by thee. – Greek Proverb

Idleness is the mother of all evil. – Greek Proverb

If advice will not improve him, neither will the rod. – Greek Proverb

If all men were just, there would be no need of valour. – Greek Proverb

If all the bees made honey, there would be enough for even gypsies to eat. – Greek Proverb

If deeds are wanting, all words appear mere vanity and emptiness. – Greek Proverb

If envy were a rash the whole village would be ill. – Greek Proverb

If it were not for hope, the heart would break. – Greek Proverb

If the baby doesn’t cry, they don’t give it the breast. – Greek Proverb

If the wind is not on your road, let it blow. – Greek Proverb

If the wolf feared rain, he would wear a cloak. – Greek Proverb

If wishes were granted, even beggars would grow rich. – Greek Proverb

If you cannot catch a fish, do not blame the sea. – Greek Proverb

If you cannot say something good, don’t say something bad. – Greek Proverb

If you haven’t spanked a little bottom, don’t threaten a big one. – Greek Proverb

If you steal something small you are a petty thief, but if you steal millions you are a gentleman of society. – Greek Proverb

If you touch a hot coal you burn yourself; a cold one, you blacken yourself. – Greek Proverb

If you wish to be good, first believe that you are bad. – Greek Proverb

Ignorance of one’s misfortunes is clear gain. – Greek Proverb

Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. – Greek Proverb

Ill beef ne’er made gude broo. – Greek Proverb

Ill-gotten gain is scattered by the devil. – Greek Proverb

Ill-timed laughter is a dangerous evil. – Greek Proverb

In baiting a mousetrap with cheese, always leave room for the mouse. – Greek Proverb

In business you need two Jews for one Greek, two Greeks for one Syrian and two Syrians for one Armenian. – Greek Proverb

In hospitality, the chief thing is the good will. – Greek Proverb

In the far off field the cabbages are fine. – Greek Proverb

In the young, silence is better than speech. – Greek Proverb

In time of drought even hail is welcome. – Greek Proverb

In times of difficulty, friendship is on trial. – Greek Proverb

Insult gives birth to insult. – Greek Proverb

It is better in times of need to have a friend rather than money. – Greek Proverb

It is better to be a soldier than a priest. – Greek Proverb

It is better to be envied than pitied. – Greek Proverb

It is better to be the best of a low family than the worst of a noble one – Greek Proverb

It is easier to talk than to hold one’s tongue. – Greek Proverb

It is not good for all our wishes to be filled; through sickness we recognize the value of health; through evil, the value of good; through hunger, the value of food; through exertion, the value of rest. – Greek Proverb

It is not what they profess but what they practice that makes them good. – Greek Proverb

It is useless to knock at the door of a deaf man. – Greek Proverb

It takes both millstones to grind the flour. – Greek Proverb

Joy and sorrow are sisters. – Greek Proverb

Keep no secrets of thyself from thyself. – Greek Proverb

Kindheartedness and honesty can be expected only from the poor. – Greek Proverb

Kindness begets kindness. – Greek Proverb

Know all and you will pardon all. – Greek Proverb

Know yourself. – Greek Proverb

Large families bring poverty. – Greek Proverb

Lazy and silly women marry well. – Greek Proverb

Learn to obey before you command. – Greek Proverb

Learn to walk before you run. – Greek Proverb

Lentils boil against their will. – Greek Proverb

Lentils without onions are like a dance without music. – Greek Proverb

Lies are the salt of truth. – Greek Proverb

Light your lamp before night overtakes you. – Greek Proverb

Like seeks like and cabbages fertilizer. – Greek Proverb

Listen to that which is well said even if it is from the mouth of an enemy. – Greek Proverb

Listen to valuable statements even if they come from your enemy’s mouth. – Greek Proverb

Live today, forget the past. – Greek Proverb

Madness does not go to the mountains, it goes to people. – Greek Proverb

Make haste slowly. – Greek Proverb

Make your bed as well as you can. – Greek Proverb

Man is the measure of all things. – Greek Proverb

Man plans many things; God alters his plans. – Greek Proverb

Many a pupil has gained more wealth than his master. – Greek Proverb

Many captains sink the ship. – Greek Proverb

Many hands at the carding but few at the dining. – Greek Proverb

Many men know how to flatter, few men know how to praise. – Greek Proverb

Many men, many minds. Many men, many minds. – Greek Proverb

Many people know how to flatter; few know how to praise. – Greek Proverb

Many pupils have gained more wealth than their masters. – Greek Proverbs

Many stones will bring down the walnut. – Greek Proverb

Marriage and cooking call for forethought. – Greek Proverb

Meat is sold with bones. – Greek Proverb

Men never moan over the opportunities lost to do good, only the opportunities to be bad. – Greek Proverb

Men prone to tears are good. – Greek Proverb

Men who have lost heart never yet won a trophy. – Greek Proverb

Milk the cow, but do not pull off the udder. – Greek Proverb

Mountains are used to snow. – Greek Proverb

My donkey is dead; let no more grass grow. – Greek Proverb

My first wedding makes me proud in front of people. – Greek Proverb

Nature follows its course and a cat the mouse. – Greek Proverb

Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, and but one tongue; to the end we should hear and see more than we speak. – Greek Proverb

Greek Proverbs

Needle and thread do the work well. – Greek Proverb

Neither promise wax to the saint, nor cakes to the child. – Greek Proverb

Never consult a doctor who has never been ill himself. – Greek Proverb

Never give a sword to a fool or power to an unjust man. – Greek Proverb

No mill, no meal. – Greek Proverb

No need to teach an eagle to fly. – Greek Proverb

No one loathes the smell of himself. – Greek Proverb

nor a deacon another deacon. – Greek Proverb

Not speech, but facts, convince. – Greek Proverb

Nothing in excess. – Greek Proverb

Nothing is so reckless as a blind horse. – Greek Proverb

Nothing will content him who is not content with a little. – Greek Proverb

O Strangers by Anacreon’s tomb who pass, Shed o’er it wine, in life he lov’d his glass – Greek Proverb

Observe your enemies, for they first find your faults. – Greek Proverb

Old age and poverty are wounds that can’t be healed. – Greek Proverb

Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill. – Greek Proverb

Old men are twice children. – Greek Proverb

Old people’s words are weighed with scales. – Greek Proverb

Once you learn something it is hard to unlearn. – Greek Proverb

One cuckoo doesn’t make the spring. – Greek Proverb

One hand washes the other and both wash the face. – Greek Proverb

One has the name and another the worth. – Greek Proverb

One lights the fire, the other fans it. – Greek Proverb

One minute of patience can mean ten years of peace. – Greek Proverb

One minute of patience, ten years of peace. – Greek Proverb

One mouse eats the clothes and all the mice get into trouble. – Greek Proverb

One who goes into a mill comes out covered with flour. – Greek Proverb

One who hurries stumbles. – Greek Proverb

One who stays not before the other’s eyes is soon forgotten. – Greek Proverb

One wise man is worth more than a million fools. – Greek Proverb

One witness one liar; more witnesses, all liars. – Greek Proverb

One word spoken in anger may spoil an entire life. – Greek Proverb

Other days, other ways. – Greek Proverb

Outside a sheep, inside a wolf. – Greek Proverb

Outwardly a lamb, inwardly a wolf. – Greek Proverb

Outwardly, a doll; within, the plague. – Greek Proverb

Painless poverty is better than embittered wealth. – Greek Proverb

People’s mouths can’t be sewn up liks sacks. – Greek Proverb

Pleasure is the greatest incentive to vice. – Greek Proverb

Pleasures are transient — honors immortal. – Greek Proverb

Pleasures are transient, honors are immortal. – Greek Proverb

Point out your friend to me and I will tell you what you are.

Poor in my youth, and in life’s later scenes – Rich to no end, I curse my natal hour, Who naught enjoyed while young, denied the means And naught when old enjoyed, denied the power – Greek Proverb

Poor men’s words have little weight. – Greek Proverb

Poverty brings nagging. – Greek Proverb

Poverty passes by an industrious man’s door. – Greek Proverb

Presence does more than the written word. – Greek Proverb

Proportion your expenses to what you have, not what you expect. – Greek Proverb

Rank does not make the man. – Greek Proverb

Receive an old man’s counsel and a learned man’s knowledge. – Greek Proverb

Remorse is worse than a beating. – Greek Proverb

Sail when the weather is fair; you do not know what the morrow will bring. – Greek Proverb

Say little and listen much. – Greek Proverb

Sharing the figs can leave you with none at all. – Greek Proverb

She who laughs not in the morning, laughs not at noon. – Greek Proverb

Sickness comes in by the bagful and goes out stitch by stitch. – Greek Proverb

Skill wins over noble birth. – Greek Proverb

Sleep is better than food. – Greek Proverb

Small children, small worries; older children, greater worries. – Greek Proverb

Some like the priest and some like the priest’s wife. – Greek Proverb

Some plant and harvest and others eat and give blessings. – Greek Proverb

Someone with an unrelenting heart is his own executioner. – Greek Proverb

Sometimes you have to throw yourself into the fire to escape from the smoke. – Greek Proverb

Son of a priest, grandson of the devil. – Greek Proverb

Sour vinegar taints the jar. – Greek Proverb

Stagnant water has an evil smell. – Greek Proverb

Stir a fire with the poker and not with your hands. – Greek Proverb

Stubbornness gets a black eye. – Greek Proverb

Success has many friends. – Greek Proverb

Success is doing what you like and making a living at it. – Greek Proverb

Success isn’t how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started. – Greek Proverb

Sweet is the memory of past labor. – Greek Proverb

Swift gratitude is the sweetest. – Greek Proverb

Take a young woman for the pleasure of possessing her until she is old. – Greek Proverb

Take good care of the bull if you wish him to plough well for you. – Greek Proverb

Terrifying are the weaknesses of power. – Greek Proverb

The apple will fall under the apple tree. – Greek Proverb

The beginning is half of every action – Greek Proverb

The beginning is the half of every action. – Greek Proverb

The believer is happy, the doubter is wise. – Greek Proverb

The best fish hook cannot catch limp cheese. – Greek Proverb

The best of intentions is not always enough. – Greek Proverb

The camel can’t see her own hump. – Greek Proverbs

The camel does not see her own hump. – Greek Proverb

The dog does not eat hay, but he doesn’t let the donkey eat it either. – Greek Proverb

The dog survives the winter but only his skin knows how. – Greek Proverb

The donkey called the rooster big-headed. – Greek Proverbs

The drowning man grips to his own hair. – Greek Proverb

The duck knows where the lake is. – Greek Proverb

The excess of a virtue is a vice. – Greek Proverb

The eye sees; the hand performs. – Greek Proverb

The eyes of the hare are not the same as the eyes of the owl. – Greek Proverb

The fiddle sings one tune and the bow another. – Greek Proverb

The first man’s steps become a bridge for the second one. – Greek Proverb

The first mistake is a lesson and teacher for those that follow. – Greek Proverb

The fly sat upon the axle of the chariot-wheel and said ‘What a lot of dust I raise!’ – Greek Proverb

The fool and the clown grow old worrying over others. – Greek Proverb

The fool rejoices over his memories. – Greek Proverb

The fox that waits until the chicken falls from the perch dies from hunger. – Greek Proverb

The frog wanted to be an ox and swelled up until he burst. – Greek Proverb

The fruit of a good tree is also good. – Greek Proverb

The good skipper proves himself during a storm. – Greek Proverb

The green log is burned with the dry ones. – Greek Proverb

The grumbling mother-in-law forgets that she once was a bride. – Greek Proverb

The hard worker toiled and the lazy man rejoiced. – Greek Proverb

The heart that loves is always young. – Greek Proverb

The house of envy lies in the lowest hollows, golden, sunless, breathed upon by no wind, grim and filled full of inert chill, and lacking warmth, is always roiled in fog. – Greek Proverb

The king has many treasures but he will still take whatever you give him. – Greek Proverb

The knee is closer than the calf. – Greek Proverb

The later comer gets the bones. – Greek Proverb

The law of the city is the citizen’s honor. – Greek Proverb

The man in pain suffers while his neighbors sleep. – Greek Proverb

The man who controls his wrath conquers his foe. – Greek Proverb

The man who eavesdrops hears himself discussed. – Greek Proverb

The man who lives in a glass house does not throw stones at his neighbors. – Greek Proverb

The mill does not grind without water. – Greek Proverb

The mind of the bird is on the millet. – Greek Proverb

The miser’s riches fall into the spendthrift’s hands. – Greek Proverb

The more the mother-in-law drinks the more friendly is her greeting. – Greek Proverb

The net of the sleeper catches fish. – Greek Proverb

The old age of an eagle is better than the youth of a sparrow. – Greek Proverb

The old hen is worth forty chickens. – Greek Proverb

The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing. – Greek Proverb

The pear falls from the pear tree. – Greek Proverb

The people make the town. – Greek Proverb

The potter knows where to place the handle. – Greek Proverb

The purse of the dead man is turned inside out. – Greek Proverb

The rest of the world does not know what newlyweds know. – Greek Proverb

The rich man displays his wealth and the poor one his children. – Greek Proverb

The rich man’s wealth is enjoyed by crafty tradesmen. – Greek Proverb

The rude man shall be rudely treated. – Greek Proverb

The shepherd smells of sheep even when he becomes a nobleman. – Greek Proverb

The shoe should fit the foot and not the foot the shoe. – Greek Proverb

The sins we often regret are the sins we never commit. – Greek Proverb

The sling will burst somewhere. – Greek Proverb

The style is the man himself. – Greek Proverb

The talk of many can shake the strongest mind. – Greek Proverb

The talk of the many can cripple a man. – Greek Proverb

The thief and the liar fare well the first year. – Greek Proverb

The timid man loses many good things. – Greek Proverb

The tongue has no bones, yet it breaks bones. – Greek Proverb

The treasures turned out to be charcoal. – Greek Proverb

The unknown is ever imagined. – Greek Proverb

The unwed matchmaker looks for himself. – Greek Proverb

The whims of the living become the bequests of the dead. – Greek Proverb

The wolf doesn’t devour his prey near his den. – Greek Proverb

The world is a wheel. – Greek Proverb

The wound that a friend gives you hurts. – Greek Proverb

There is no difference between blackness and blindness. – Greek Proverb

There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip. – Greek Proverb

They sowed the seed of an “if’ but it didn’t germinate. – Greek Proverb

They throw stones at the walnut trees, but not at the maple. – Greek Proverb

Think not on what you lack as much as on what you have. – Greek Proverb

Think with the wise, but talk with the vulgar. – Greek Proverb

Thinking evil is much the same as doing it. – Greek Proverb

Those who fight with silver spears are sure of their victory. – Greek Proverb

Time is a river of passing events — a rushing torrent. – Greek Proverb

Time is the best adviser. – Greek Proverb

Time is the soul of everything. – Greek Proverb

To deceive a diplomat speak the truth, he has no experience with it. – Greek Proverb

To have five drachmas in the hand is better than ten drachmas on paper. – Greek Proverb

To rebel in season is not to rebel. – Greek Proverb

To whom a little is not enough, nothing is enough. – Greek Proverb

Too many captains run the ship aground. – Greek Proverb

Too much talk is poverty. – Greek Proverb

Truth holds though it is bitterly taken. – Greek Proverb

Truth is not beauty, beauty is not love. – Greek Proverb

Truth lies at the bottom of a well. – Greek Proverb

Truth reigns. – Greek Proverb

Two heads don’t fit into the same cap. – Greek Proverb

Unbeaten clay cannot be made into bricks. – Greek Proverb

Under every stone sleeps a scorpion. – Greek Proverb

Unless one suffers one does not learn. – Greek Proverb

Until the crickets sing it is not summer. – Greek Proverb

Vinegar offered free is as sweet as honey. – Greek Proverb

Violent rages are soon over. – Greek Proverb

Virtue means sweat. – Greek Proverb

We became gravediggers but nobody dies anymore. – Greek Proverb

We have two ears and one mouth that we may listen the more and talk the less – Greek Proverb

We measure others with our own yardstick. – Greek Proverb

We must endure what fortune sends. – Greek Proverb

Wealth bequeathed to the children might never reach the grandchildren. – Greek Proverb

Wealth counts not so much as good will nor as knowledge and pleasant speech. – Greek Proverb

Wealth is cautious. – Greek Proverb

Welcome is the best cheer. – Greek Proverb

What becomes a habit does not change easily. – Greek Proverb

What is good to know is difficult to learn. – Greek Proverb

What is true is no more sure than the probable. – Greek Proverb

What the fox can’t reach he leaves hanging. – Greek Proverb

What you learn in youth you do not unlearn in old age. – Greek Proverb

Whatever is good to know is difficult to learn. – Greek Proverb

Whatever kind of word thou speakest, the like shalt thou bear. – Greek Proverb

Whatever the priest tells you to do, do it; what you see him do, do not. – Greek Proverb

When at a loss about how to go on, cough. – Greek Proverb

When at a loss how to go on, cough. – Greek Proverb

When God throws the dice are loaded. – Greek Proverb

When God throws the dice, they are loaded. – Greek Proverb

When the baby cries, it is either hungry or in pain. – Greek Proverb

When the crows sing the nightingales fly away. – Greek Proverb

When the devil grows old he becomes a monk. – Greek Proverb

When the devil grows poor he becomes a tax collector. – Greek Proverb

When the fox cannot reach the grapes he says they are not ripe. – Greek Proverb

When the fox grows old it becomes a nun. – Greek Proverb

When the fox is hungry he feigns sickness. – Greek Proverb

When the fox is hungry he pretends to be asleep. – Greek Proverb

When the gods are angry with a man, they give him what he asks for. – Greek Proverb

When they offer you a horse don’t look at its teeth. – Greek Proverb

When you don’t like someone you find his breath offensive. – Greek Proverb

When you go to bed with a clear head, you will not get up with a headache. – Greek Proverb

Where rage seeds, repentance reaps. – Greek Proverb

Where there is a sea there are pirates. – Greek Proverb

Where there is envy, there is meanness. – Greek Proverb

Where there is fear, there is shame. – Greek Proverb

Where there is intelligence there is knowledge. – Greek Proverb

Where there is love there is no darkness. – Greek Proverb

Where words fail beating succeeds. – Greek Proverb

Who ceases to be a friend never was one. – Greek Proverb

Who hunts two hares will catch neither. – Greek Proverb

Who wouldn’t lick his fingers when they have been dipped in honey? – Greek Proverb

Whoever feeds the wolf in the winter will be eaten by him in the spring. – Greek Proverb

Wine and children speak the truth. – Greek Proverb

Wisdom is knowing the truth, and telling it. – Greek Proverb

With money a donkey was ordained a priest. – Greek Proverb

With patience all is done. – Greek Proverb

Without a general an army is lost. – Greek Proverb

Women are as changeable as the sea. – Greek Proverb

Women have long hair and short wisdom. – Greek Proverb

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom. – Greek Proverb

Wonders will never cease. – Greek Proverb

Words can turn the course of a river. – Greek Proverb

Work done quickly gives pleasure. – Greek Proverb

You can tell a bird by its song and a man by his manner of speaking. – Greek Proverb

You can tell a lion by his claws. – Greek Proverb

You can tell who the good seamen are during a storm. – Greek Proverb

You cannot reason with a hungry belly; it has no ears. – Greek Proverb

You can’t build a wall with just one stone. – Greek Proverb

You can’t hide behind your finger. – Greek Proverb

You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist. – Greek Proverb

You easily forget the eyes that don’t see you any more. – Greek Proverb

You have to put a young girl onto an old man. – Greek Proverb

You know who the good seamen are when the storm comes. – Greek Proverb

You learn to limp if you live with cripples. – Greek Proverb

You must keep quiet or say only things that improve silence. – Greek Proverb

You will break the bow if you keep it always bent. – Greek Proverb

Young wood makes a hot fire. – Greek Proverb


Greek Proverbs

Ancient Greek Proverbs

Know yourself! – Socrates

Well begun is half done. – Aristotle

Wisdom begins in wonder. – Socrates

Life is short, the art long. – Hippocrates

Wit is educated insolence. – Aristotle

Nature does nothing uselessly. – Aristotle

Wisdom outweighs any wealth. – Sophocles

Success is dependent on effort. – Sophocles

Man is the measure of all things. – Protagoras

The wildest colts make the best horses. – Plutarch

Like that of leaves is a generation of men. – Homer

Wait for the wisest of all counselors, time. – Pericles

The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates

At a touch of love, everyone becomes a poet. – Plato

Only the dead have seen the end of the war. – Plato

Better learn late, than not at all. – Cleobulus

Many hands make light work. – Homer

Win by persuasion, not by force. – Bias of Priene

One swallow does not make a Spring. – Aristotle

The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. – Aristotle

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. – Hippocrates.

The art of living well and the art of dying well are one. – Epicurus

Famous men have the whole earth as their memorial. – Pericles

Those who aim at great deeds must also suffer greatly. – Plutarch

The art of being a slave is to rule one’s master. – Diogenes of Sinope

An orator without judgment is a horse without a bridle. – Theophrastu

In all things of nature, there is something of the marvellous. – Aristotle

Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head. – Euripides

Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity. – Aristotle

The greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it. – Epicurus

Love is all we have, the only way that each can help the other. – Euripides

In order to please others, we lose our hold on our life’s purpose. – Epictetus

Small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises. – Demosthenes

One thing I know, that I know nothing. This is the source of my wisdom. – Socrates

It is difficult to argue with the belly, as it has no ears. – Plutarch

Milk the cows that is nearby, why chase the one that runs away? – Theocritus

Grey hairs are proof of age, but not of wisdom. – Menander

It will not always be summer: gather the harvest while you can. – Hesiod

The crowd is the most unreliable and witless thing in the world. – Demosthenes.

Old things become new with the passage of time. – Nicostratus

War is sweet to those who never tried it. – Pindar

When the wine is in, the words flow out. – Herodotus

Time is a doctor who heals all griefs. – Diphilus

Better to do a little than a great deal badly. – Socrates

The prosperity of a fool is a heavy burden to put up with. – Aeschylus

We know nothing for sure: truth is hidden at the bottom of a well. – Diogenes Laertius

If all the laws were to be abolished, it would not make much difference to our way of life. – Aristippus

Thou wilt find rest from vain fancies if thou doest every act in life as though it were thy last. – Aristotle

Misfortunes are less sharp when shared with others. – Dio Chrysotom

In an honourable enterprise, there must be no delay. – Nigrinus

In a moment, we got from the sublime to the ridiculous. – Longrinus

Give me leverage and I will move the Earth. -Archimedes

When in ape’s company, one must play the ape. – Apollodorus

A rolling stone gathers no moss. – Anonymous

In great attempts, even to fail is glorious. – Anonymous

Nature creates nothing without a purpose. – Aristotle

Man is the measure of the universe. – Protagoras

Life is short, art is long. – Hippocrates

Action achieves more than words. – Euripides

Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes. – Antisthenes

Well being is attained by little and little, and nevertheless is no little thing itself. – Citium Zeno

Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all. – Hypatia

Men would live exceedingly quiet if these two words, mine and thine, were taken away. – Anaxagoras

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something. – Plato

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world. – Archimedes

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. – Plato

If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, for it is not to be reached by search or trail. – Heraclitus

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. – Plato

It is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has. – Hippocrates

It is possible to provide security against other ills, but as far as death is concerned, we men live in a city without walls. – Epicurus

You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour. – Aristotle

As a matter of self-preservation, a man needs good friends or ardent enemies, for the former instruct him and the latter take him to task. – Diogenes

Be careful to leave your sons well-instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant. – Epictetus

Written laws are like spider’s webs; they will catch, it is true, the weak and poor, but would be torn in pieces by the rich and powerful. – Anacharsis

Greek Proverbs

  • Δώσε τόπο στην οργή.
    • Shove anger aside.
    • English equivalent: Whom God wishes to destroy he first makes mad.
    • Nea hestia. I. D. Kollaros \& Sa.. 1996.
  • Don’t hear one and judge two.
    • Alexander Negris (1831). A Dictionary of Modern Greek Proverbs: With an English Translation, Explanatory Remarks, and Philological Illustrations. T. Clark. pp. 79–.
  • Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια
    • There is truth in wine.
    • English equivalent: In wine there is truth.
    • Latin equivalentː In vino veritas.
    • “Alcohol consumed removes the inhibition against telling the truth that occasionally one would like to keep secret.”
    • European Proverbs in 55 languages. 1997. p. 272. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
  • Η καλύτερη άμυνα είναι η επίθεση.
    • English equivalent: The best defence is a good offense.
    • Source for meaning: Maira Papathanasopoulou (1 January 1998). Ho Ioudas philouse hyperocha: mythistorēma. Ekdoseis Patakē. p. 23. ISBN 978-960-600-451-3. Retrieved on 21 June 2013.
  • Η φτήνια τρώει τον παρά.
    • English equivalent: If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly.
    • Spoudōn (1998). Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής. Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης. p. 1027.
  • Η γλώσσα κόκαλα δεν έχει, αλλά κόκαλα τσακίζει.
    • English equivalent: The pen is mightier than the sword.
    • “The play’s the thing,
      Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”
    • William Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600–1), Act II, scene ii
    • Venizelos (1867). Paroimiai dēmōdeis. Ek tou typographeiou tēs Patridos. p. 95.
  • Και οι τοίχοι έχουν αυτιά.
    • English equivalent: The walls have ears.
    • “What you say may be overheard; used as a warning.”
    • Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 287. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 27 September 2013.
  • Κάλλιο γαϊδουρόδενε, παρά γαϊδουρογύρευε.
    • English equivalent: An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.
    • Βασιλειάδης. ΈγκλημαστοΚΕΛΥΦΩΣ Αστυνομικόμυθιστόρημα. Dimitri Vasileiadis. p. 105.
  • Kάλλιο πέντε και στο χέρι, παρά δέκα και καρτέρι.
    • English equivalent: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    • “Laugh and be fat.”
    • John Taylor, title of a tract (1615)
    • Berettas (1863). Syllogēparoimiōn tōn neōterōn Hellēnōn meta parallēlismou pros tas tōn archaiōn. Ek tou typ. ho Hellēnopelasgos. p. 37. ISBN 1.
  • Κόρακας κοράκου μάτι δε βγάζει.
    • English equivalent: Hawks will not pick out Hawk’s eyes.
    • “One belonging to a group having common interests is not likely to act against or find fault with another member of the same group. Solidarity may prevail over law, justice or truth.”
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). “X”. European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 96. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
    • Shqiptaro-Greke (1999). Albanohellenica. Albanian-Greek Philological Association. p. 22.
  • Καλή ζωή, κακή διαθήκη.
    • English equivalent: Fools live poor to die rich.
    • Chakkas (1978). Hapanta. Kedros.
  • Ο χρόνος είναι ακριβός
    • English equivalent: Time is precious.
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 428. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
  • Όποιος γίνεται πρόβατο τον τρώει ο λύκος.
    • “He who becomes a sheep is eaten by the wolf.”
    • Dostoyevsky, Koteliansky (2010). Dostoevsky: Letters and Reminiscences. Kessinger Publishing. pp. 304. ISBN 1163449024.
  • Όφις ην μη φάγη όφιν, δράκων ου γενήσεται.
    • Alternatively: Όφις ει μη φάγοι όφιν, δράκων ου γενήσεται. (see Robert Nares)
    • A serpent, unless it devours a serpent, will not become a dragon. (Erasmus, translated by Barker)
    • Quoted by Erasmus, Michael Apostolius, and in Suda (according to Robert Nares)
    • Translated into Latin by Apostolius, Erasmus, and Francis Bacon.
    • Paraphrased in English by John Dryden (Oedipus III.1): “A serpent ne’er becomes a flying dragon, / Till he has eat a serpent.” (see Robert Nares)
    • Sources:
      • Robert Nares, A Glossary, p. 781. (Nares’s “φύγοι” emended to “φάγοι” based on Apostolius’s text.)
      • Erasmus III iii 61, translated in William Watson Barker, ed. The Adages of Erasmus, p. 271.
      • Michael Apostolius, Paroemiae [Proverbs]. Ed. Daniel Heinsius. Leiden, 1619. p. 187.
      • A search of the Suda does not return this proverb.
  • Ο πνιγμένος, από τα μαλλιά του πιάνεται.
    • English equivalent: A drowning man will clutch at a straw.
    • Κριαρας (2007). Αλλελωγραφιαδυο:. ΕκδοσειςΠολυτυπο. p. 33.
  • Συν Αθηνά και χείρα κίνει.
    • Move your hand along with Athena (Minerva)
    • English equivalent: Heaven help those who help themselves.
    • “When in trouble first of all every one himself should do his best to improve his condition.”
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. p. 150. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
    • Karagiōrgos, Panos (1999). Greek and English proverbs. P. Karagiorgos. p. 99.
  • Τα εν οίκω μη εν δήμω.
    • English equivalent: Don’t wash your dirty linen in public; It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest.
    • “Why wantonly proclaim one’s own disgrace, or expose the faults or weaknesses of one’s kindred or people?”
    • “It is considered contemptible to defy the rule of solidarity by revealing facts harmful to the group one belongs to.”
    • Proverbs of All Nations. W. Kent & Company (late D. Bogue). 1859. p. 109.
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). “106”. European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 466. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
    • Karagiōrgos, Panos (1999). Greek and English proverbs. P. Karagiorgos. p. 99.
  • Τα μεγάλα πνεύματα συναντώνται
    • English equivalent: Great minds think alike.
    • Karagiōrgos, Panos (1999). Greek and English proverbs. P. Karagiorgos. p. 138.
  • Άγιος που δε θαυματουργεί, μηδέ δοξολογιέται.
    • The saint who works no miracles isn’t glorified.
    • “I think that sex is necessary and bankers are not.”
    • Lancelot Hogben, in Twentieth Century Authors, A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature, Edited by Stanley J. Kunitz, and Howard Haycraft. New York, The H.W. Wilson Company, 1950, (pp. 658-59)
    • Kyriakos Simopoulos. Pōs eidan hoi xenoi tēn Hellada tou 21: apomnēmoneumata, chronika, hēmerologia, hypomnēmata, allēlographia ethelontōn, diplōmatōn, eidikōn apestalmenōn, periēgētōn, praktorōn k.a. p. 167.
  • Αγάλι-αγάλι γίνεται η αγουρίδα μέλι
    • Translation: A green fruit gets ripe slowly
    • Patience
  • Αν δεν παινέσεις το σπίτι σου, θα πέσει να σε πλακώσει
    • Translation: If you do not praise your own home, it will fall on you and squash you
    • You do not speak badly about your own family
  • Η γριά κότα έχει το ζουμί
    • Translation: It’s the old chicken that makes good broth
    • Don’t discredit elder people/ideas (also used ironically). It often refers to sexual relations, with older women having more sexual experience and being able satisfy a man more than a younger woman can
  • Η καμήλα δεν βλέπει την καμπούρα της
    • Translation: The camel does not see her own hump
    • We readily see other people’s faults but fail to see our own
  • Και την πίτα ολόκληρη, και το σκύλο χωρτάτο
    • Translation: And the whole pie, and the dog full
    • It is said of someone who wants to accomplish something without making any concession even though it’s obvious that one is needed. Akin to: “He wants to have his cake and eat it, too.”
  • Κάλλιο να σου βγει το μάτι παρά το όνομα
    • Translation: It’s better to lose an eye than to get a bad name
    • If one gets the reputation (name) of being something, it is very hard to lose it.
  • Κι αν είσαι και παπάς, με την αράδα σου θα πας
    • Translation: Even if you are a priest, you get in line
    • The implication is that even if you are a person of high position you do not get priority, you must wait your turn as all the others
  • Κύλισε ο τέτζερης και βρήκε το καπάκι
    • Translation: The kettle rolled down and found the lid.
    • A person of a certain character always finds another of the same
  • Μ’ένα σμπάρο, δυο τρυγώνια
    • Translation: One shot, two birds
    • Killing two birds with one stone. Σμπάρος in Greek is a shotgun shot. Pigliar due piccioni con una fava. Prendere due piccioni con una fava. Abattre deux mouches d’un coup de savate. Matar dos pajaros de una pedrada.
  • Μια του κλέφτη, δυό του κλέφτη, τρεις και την κακή του μέρα
    • Translation: Once for the thief, twice for the thief, three and it’s his bad day
    • If you commit a crime you will eventually get caught
  • Μοναχός σου χόρευε, κι’ όσο θέλεις πήδα
    • Translation: Dance by yourself and you can jump as much as you want
    • If you are alone you can do as you wish, but in a group you have to take others into consideration; Compromise
  • Νηστικό αρκούδι δεν χορεύει
    • Translation: A hungry bear does not dance
    • If you don’t eat (get paid), you cannot function
  • Ο θεός αγαπάει τον κλέφτη, μα σαν τον νοικοκύρη, όχι
    • Translation: God loves the thief, but not like the master of the house
    • The crook may get away initially, but he will eventually get caught
  • Ολα του γάμου δύσκολα κι η νύφη γκαστρωμένη
    • Translation: Everything about the wedding is difficult (obstacles or objections) and the bride is pregnant
    • When people make excuses or place obstacles about a task that has to be done
  • Ο λύκος κι αν εγέρασε κι άσπρισε το μαλί του, ούτε την γούνα του άλλαξε, ούτε την κεφαλή του
    • Translation: Even though the wolf got old and his fur is white, he neither changed his skin or his head
    • When a person is bad to begin with, this doesn’t change in old age
  • Ο ψεύτης κι ο κλέφτης τον πρώτο χρόνο χαίρονται
    • Translation: Liars and thieves are happy only the first year (after the deed)
    • The implication here is that they eventually get caught
  • Οποιος μπλέκεται με τα πίτουρα τον τρων οι κότες
    • Translation: He who gets in chicken feed is eaten by the chickens
    • On the perils of getting involved with the wrong people or with the wrong activities
  • Όποιος πίνει βερεσέ, δυο φορές μεθάει
    • He who drinks on credit, gets twice as drunk
    • Don’t create credits, you’ll be in trouble
  • Όπου ακούς πολλά κεράσια, βάστα μικρό καλάθι
    • Translation: When you hear of many cherries, hold a small basket
    • Don’t get overwhelmed, and be cautious
  • Όπως έστρωσες θα κοιμηθείς
    • Translation: How you make your bed is how you are going to sleep (in it)
    • You got yourself into this, now get yourself out of it
  • Οταν λείπει ο γάτος, χορεύουν τα ποντίκια
    • Translation: When the cat is absent, the mice dance
    • When the cat’s away, the mice will play.
  • Ότι μικρομάθεις, δεν γερονταφήνεις
    • Translation: What you learn as a child, you cannot forget as an old person
    • Refers to knowlegde/skills one acquires as a youngster, and continues to remember for ever
  • Παπούτσι από τον τόπο σου κι ας είναι μπαλωμένο
    • Translation: Shoe from your place, even if it is patched
    • Take a spouse from the place you come from, even if she is not so great
  • Πήρες πολύ ψηλά τον αμανέ
    • Translation: You are singing the song too high
    • Arrogance or over-reaching. Akin to: “Bit off more than he can chew.”
  • Πρώτα βγαίνει η ψυχή του ανθρώπου και μετά το χούι του
    • Translation: First leaves the soul of a person and then his quirks
    • Refers to the fact that some habits are ingrained in a person’s personality
  • Στου κουφού την πόρτα, όσο θέλεις βρόντα
    • Translation: At the deaf man’s door, knock as much as you like
    • Some people ignore any advice or guidance that may be provided to them. In more modern Greek, there is a funny spoof of this proverb : “Στου κουφού την πόρτα, μπες απ’το παράθυρο” (“When at a deaf man’s door, get in through the window”).
  • Τον αράπη κι αν τον πλένεις, το σαπούνι σου χαλάς
    • Translation: No matter how much you wash a black person, you are wasting your soap
    • This proverb is mainly used to express the futility of trying to change the mentality of a headstrong person (the color of a black person cannot be washed off) and it does not have racist connotations. In modern Greek, the word “αράπης” (arapis — black man) is a lay (and at times borderline pejorative) term — originally probably derived from the word “Άραβας” (Aravas — Arab).
  • Το καλό το παλικάρι ξέρει κι’άλλο μονοπάτι
    • Translation: The good (wise) lad always knows of an alternate path
    • Used when an effort goes wrong or not as expected, but still you manage to find another solution
  • Το μήλο κάτω απ` τη μηλιά θα πέσει
    • Translation: The apple will fall under the apple-tree
    • The offspring will be like his parents, usually derogatory. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree
  • Το ‘να χέρι νήβει τ’ άλλο, και τα δυο το πρόσωπο
    • Translation: The one hand washes the other, and both wash the face
    • Used when referring to cooperation and mutual dependency. Also possibly exchanging illicit favours
  • Το παιδί σου και το σκυλί σου όπως τα μάθεις
    • Translation: Your child and your dog (behave) the way you teach them
    • When you set up rules early, the behaviour that follows adheres to these rules
  • Το σκοινί το μαλακό, τρώει την πέτρα την ξερή
    • Translation: The soft rope corrodes the dry stone
    • Using persuasion and kindness, one can change strong opinion
  • Φασούλι το φασούλι γεμίζει το σακούλι
    • Translation: Bean by bean, the sack gets full
    • On the merits of saving
  • Φύλαγε τα ρούχα σου να έχεις τα μισά
    • Translation: Mind your clothes so that you can keep half of them
    • Refers to the fact that you can never be too careful, and even if you are very careful, there is still going to be some losses
  • Κάνε το καλό και ρίξ’ το στο γιαλό
    • Do good and cast it in the sea
    • be humble about your kind acts, don’t brag about them
  • Η γλώσσα κόκαλα δεν έχει και κόκαλα τσακίζει
    • The tongue doesn’t have bones but can smash bones
    • the power of words can hurt
  • Το ‘να χέρι νίβει το άλλο, και τα δυο το πρόσωπο
    • One hand rubs the other and both of them (rub) the face
    • teamwork brings better results
  • Όταν λείπει η γάτα χορεύουν τα ποντίκια
    • When the cat is away the mice dance
    • when someone who’s in charge is absent or not paying attention, the others behave with negligence
  • Το καλό το παλικάρι ξέρει κι άλλο μονοπάτι
    • The good lad knows another path
    • the smart person knows how to do things differently, despite the hurdles

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