Proverbs Around The World

Wise Sayings from Various Cultures and Nations

Proverbs and old sayings reveal many aspects about the cultural  traditions of a society. Proverbs originated from indigenous humble folk who handed down these wise old sayings over the centuries, generation to generation. Many proverbs serve as advisory tales and wise counsel

“A country can be judged by the quality of its proverbs.” – German proverb.

Proverbs in Alphabetical Order

A robust collection of proverbs and sayings from national and cultural perspectives around the world.

-A-

Abundance, like want, ruins many. Romanian Proverb

Adversity makes a man wise, not rich. Romanian Proverb

Advice is least heeded when most needed. English Proverb

After dark all cats are leopards. Native American Proverb (Zuni)

After lunch; rest; after dinner walk a mile. Arab Proverb

After the game, the king and the pawn go into the same box. Italian Proverb

The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected. Swedish Proverb

After three days without reading, talk becomes flavorless. Chinese proverb

After victory, tighten your helmet chord. Japanese Proverb

All roads lead to Rome. Roman Proverb

All roads do not lead to Rome. Slovenian Proverb

All sins cast long shadows. Irish Proverb

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

All sunshine makes the desert. Arab Proverb

An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep. Arab Proverb

An ass is but an ass, though laden with gold. Romanian Proverb

An iron rod bends while it is hot. Greek Proverb

The anvil fears no blows. Romanian Proverb

Ask a lot, but take what is offered. Russian Proverb

Ask about your neighbors, then buy the house. Jewish Proverb

Ask the experienced rather than the learned. Arabic proverb

Avoid the evil, and it will avoid thee. Gaelic Proverb

-B-

Bad is never good until worse happens. Danish Proverb

Bed is the poor man’s opera. Italian Proverb

The beginning is the half of every action. Greek Proverb

Be happy while you’re living, For you’re a long time dead. Scottish Proverb

Behind an able man there are always other able men. Chinese Proverb

Below the navel there is neither religion nor truth. Italian Proverb

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still. Chinese Proverb

Be on your guard against a silent dog and still water. Latin Proverb

Be Prepared. Boy Scout Motto

Be slow in choosing a friend, but slower in changing him. Scottish Proverb

The best armor is to keep out of range. Italian Proverb

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

Better a mouse in the pot than no meat at all. Romanian Proverb

Better be ill spoken of by one before all than by all before one. Scottish Proverb

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. Chinese Proverb

Better be quarreling than lonesome. Irish Proverb

Between saying and doing, many a pair of shoes is worn out. Italian Proverb

Beware of a man of one book. English Proverb

Beware of a man’s shadow and a bee’s sting. Burmese Proverb

Beware of the young doctor and the old barber. Benjamin Franklin

The big thieves hang the little ones. Czech Proverb

The blind man is laughing at the bald head. Persian Proverb

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. Chinese Proverb

By asking for the impossible, obtain the best possible. Italian Proverb

By learning you will teach; by teaching you will learn. Latin Proverb

Proverbs Around The World

-C-

Call on God, but row away from the rocks. Indian Proverb

Children are a poor man’s wealth. Danish Proverb

The church is near, but the way is icy, The tavern is far, but I will walk carefully. Ukrainian Proverb

A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood. Chinese Proverb

Complain to one who can help you. Yugoslav Proverb

Confessed faults are half mended. Scottish Proverb

The country rooster dows not crow in the town. African(Swahili) Proverb

The crow that mimics a cormorant is drowned. Japanese Proverb

Cuando amor no es locura, no es amor.(When love is not madness, it is not love.) Spanish Proverb

-D-

Danger and delight grow on one stalk. English Proverb

Deceive the rich and powerful if you will, but don’t insult them. Japanese Proverb

The deeper the sorrow the less tongue it hath. The Talmud

Deliberate often–decide once. Latin Proverb

A dimple in the chin; a devil within. Irish Proverb

The doctor is to be feared more than the disease. Latin Proverb

The dog’s kennel is not the place to keep a sausage. Danish Proverb

The dog wags his tail, not for you, but for your bread. Portuguese Proverb

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Miscellaneous Proverb

Do not bathe if there is no water. Shan Proverb

Do not be in a hurry to tie what you cannot untie. English Proverb

Do not employ handsome servants. Chinese Proverb

Do not lengthen the quarrel while there is an opportunity of escaping. Latin Proverb

Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends. Czech Proverb

Do not push the river, it will flow by itself. Polish Proverb

Do not put your spoon into the pot which does not boil for you. Romanian Proverb

Do not speak of a rhinoceros if there is no tree nearby. African(Zulu) Proverb

Do not stand in a place of danger trusting in miracles. Arab Proverb

Do not throw the arrow which will return against you. Kurdish Proverb

Do not wrong or hate your neighbor for it is not he that you wrong but yourself. Native American Proverb (Pima)

Don’t be too sweet lest you be eaten up; don’t be too bitter lest you be spewed out. Jewish Proverb

Don’t dig your grave with your own knife and fork. English Proverb

Don’t empty the water jar until the rain falls. Philippine Proverb

Don’t fall before you’re pushed. English Proverb

Don’t let your sorrow come higher than your knees. Swedish Proverb

Don’t live in a town where there are no doctors. Jewish Proverb

Don’t make use of another’s mouth unless it has been leant to you. Belgian Proverb

Don’t offer me advice; give me money.Spanish Proverb

Don’t open a shop unless you know how to smile. Jewish Proverb

Don’t run too far, you will have to return the same distance. Biblical Proverb

Don’t shake the tree when the pears fall off themselves. Slovakian Proverb

Don’t speak unless you can improve on the silence. Spanish Proverb

Don’t stay long when the husband is not at home. Japanese Proverb

Don’t think there are no crocodiles because the water is calm. Malayan Proverb

Don’t throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds water. Swedish Proverb

Drink nothing without seeing it; Sign nothing without reading it. Spanish Proverb

Dwell not upon thy weariness, thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire. Arab proverb

-E-

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

Eating and scratching want but a beginning. Romanian Proverb

Eating while seated makes one of large size; eating while standing makes one strong. Hindu Proverb

Employ thy time well if thou meanest to get leisure. Benjamin Franklin

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Arab Proverb

Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think. Chinese Proverb

Even a clock that does not work is right twice a day. Polish Proverb

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. Miscellaneous Prover

Every animal knows more than you do. Native American Proverb (Nez Perce)

Every beetle is a gazelle in the eyes of its mother. Moorish Proverb

Every invalid is a doctor. Irish Proverb

Everyone thinks his own burden heavy. French Proverb

Every path has its puddle. English Proverb

Every peasant is proud of the pond in his village because from it he measures the sea. Russian Proverb

Every road has two directions. Russian Proverb

Everything passes, everything wears out, everything breaks. (tout passe, tout lasse, tout casse)French Proverb

Examine what is said, not him who speaks. Arab Proverb

Experience is the comb that nature gives us when we are bald. Belgian proverb

The eyes are the window of the soul. English Proverb

The eyes believe themselves; the ears believe other people. German Proverb

-F-

Fall seven times, stand up eight. Japanese Proverb

Fast Ripe, Fast Rotten. Japanese Proverb

A father is a banker provided by nature. French Proverb

Fear less, hope more,eat less, chew more,
whine less, breathe more,
talk less, say more,
hate less, love more,
and all good things will be yours. Swedish proverb

Fear not a jest. If one throws salt at you, you will not be harmed unless you have sore places. Latin Proverb

First deserve, and then desire. English Proverb

The first drink with water, the second without water, the third like water. Spanish Proverb

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

Fish or cut bait. American Proverb

Fish, to taste good, must swim three times: in water, in butter, and in wine. Polish Proverb

A fool finds pleasure in evil conduct, but a man of understanding delights in wisdom. Miscellaneous Proverb

A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions. Miscellaneous Proverb

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. Miscellaneous Proverb

A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. Miscellaneous Proverb

Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses. Chinese Proverb

From a fallen tree, all make kindling. Spanish Proverb

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

A full cup must be carried steadily. English Proverb

-G-

Get what you can and keep what you have; that’s the way to get rich. Scottish Proverb

Give to a pig when it grunts and a child when it cries , and you will have a fine pig and a bad child. Danish Proverb

Go and wake up your cook. Arab Proverb

The go-between wears out a thousand sandals. Japanese Proverb

God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers. Jewish Proverb

God gives the nuts but he does not crack them. German Proverb

God sells knowledge for labour — honour for risk. Arabic Proverb

God will be present, whether asked or not. Latin Proverb

God gave teeth; He will give bread. Lithuanian Proverb

God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers. Jewish Proverb

Good fences make good neighbors. American Proverb

Good men must die, but death cannot kill their names. Spanish Proverb

Goodness shouts. Evil whispers. Balinese Proverb

Goodness speaks in a whisper, evil shouts. Tibetan proverb

Go often to the house of a friend; for weeds soon choke up the unused path.Ralph Waldo Emerson

A good painter need not give a name to his picture, a bad one must. Polish Proverb

Gossip needs no carriage. Russian Proverb

Gratitude is the heart’s memory. French Proverb

The greater love is a mother’s; then comes a dog’s; then a sweetheart’s. Polish Proverb

Great men are not always wise. Biblical Proverb

A guest sees more in an hour than the host in a year. Polish Proverb

Proverbs Around The World

-H-

A half-truth is a whole lie. Jewish Proverb

The hammer shatters glass but forges steel. Russian Proverb

A handful of patience is worth a bushel of brains. Dutch Proverb

The hand that gives gathers.Swedish Proverb

Happiness is like a sunbeam, which the least shadow intercepts, while adversity is often as the rain of spring. Chinese Proverb

A heart in love with beauty never grows old. Turkish Proverb

The heart that loves is always young. Greek Proverb

He fishes well who uses a golden hook. Latin Proverb

He is rich who owes nothing. French Proverb

He that does not ask will never get a bargain. French Proverb

He who fears finds a way out.Danish Proverb

He that is of a merry heart hasth a continual feast. Biblical Proverb

He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent. Biblical Proverb

He who follows the river comes at last to the sea.Norwegian Proverb

He who is outside his door already has a hard part of his journey behind him. Dutch Proverb

He who must die, must die in the dark, even though he sells candles. Colombian Proverb

He who says what he likes will hear what he does not like. English Proverb

He who searches for pearls should not sleep. Libyan Proverb

He who wants a rose must respect the thorn. Persian Proverb

He who would rule must hear and be deaf, see and be blind. German Proverb

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever. Chinese Proverb

He who builds by the roadside has many surveyors. Italian Proverb

He who doesn’t risk never gets to drink champagne. Russian Proverb

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope, has everything. Arab Proverb

He who hurries can not walk with dignity. Chinese Proverb

He who is not impatient is not in love. Italian Proverb

He who knows little quickly tells it. Italian Proverb

He who knows nothing doubts nothing. Italian Proverb

He who puts up with insult invites injury. Jewish Proverb

He who respects his parents never dies. Greek Proverb

He who sows peas on the highway does not get all the pods into his barn. Danish Proverb

He who undertakes too much seldom succeeds. Dutch Proverb

He who would leap far must first take a long run. Danish Proverb

Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sundial in the shade?Benjamin Franklin

The horse one cannot have always has a fault.Danish Proverb

Hours are Time’s shafts,and one comes winged with death. Scottish Clock Motto

The house that is built after every man’s advice seldom gets a roof.Swedish Proverb

-I-

If a man is destined to drown, he will drown even in a spoonful of water. Yiddish Proverb

If Jack’s in love, he’s no judge of Jill’s beauty. Benjamin Franklin

If there is no wind, row. Latin Proverb

If three people say you are an ass, put on a bridle. Spanish Proverb

If work were good for you, the rich would leave none for the poor. Haitian proverb

If you are a host to your guest, be a host to his dog also. Russian Proverb

If you are patient in a moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow. Chinese Proverb

If you bow at all, bow low. Chinese Proverb

Za dvumya zaitsami pogonish’sya, ne odnogo ne poimaesh’. (If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.) Russian Proverb

If you can’t go over, you must go under. Jewish Proverb

If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em. American Proverb

If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of he game, the stakes, and the quitting time. Chinese proverb

If you reveal your secrets to the wind you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees. Khalil Gibran

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Native American Proverb (Minquass)

If you scatter thorns, don’t go barefoot. Italian Proverb

If you see in your wine the reflection of a person not in your range of vision, don’t drink it. Chinese Proverb

If you want to be respected, you must respect yourself. Spanish Proverb

If you want your dreams to come true, don’t sleep. Yiddish Proverb

If you want your eggs hatched, sit on them yourself. Haitian proverb

If you wish good advice, consult an old man. Romanian Proverb

If you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting. Benjamin Franklin

If you would live healthy, be old early. Spanish Proverb

If you would be pope, you must think of nothing else. Spanish Proverb

If you suspect a man, don’t employ him, and if you employ him, don’t suspect him. Chinese Proverb

If your head is wax, don’t walk in the sun. Benjamin Franklin

If youth but had the knowledge and old age the strength. French Proverb

Ignorance is bliss. American Proverb

In calm water every ship has a good captain.Swedish Proverb

In case of doubt it is best to lean to the side of mercy. Legal Proverb

In reviling, it is not necessary to prepare a preliminary draft. Chinese Proverb

In times of prosperity friends will be plenty, in times of adversity not one in twenty. English Proverb

In the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed are kings. Macedonian Proverb

In the morning be first up, and in the evening last to go to bed, for they that sleep catch no fish. English Proverb

It is easier to pull down than to build up. Latin Proverb

It is not a fish until it is on the bank. Irish Proverb

It is not enough to aim.; you must hit. Italian Proverb

It is the great north wind that made the Vikings. Scandinavian Proverb

It is the part of a good shepherd to shear his flock, not to skin it. Latin Proverb

Proverbs Around The World

-J-

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Chinese Proverb

Judge not the horse by his saddle. Chinese Proverb

-K-

Keep your broken arm inside your sleeve. Chinese Proverb

-L-

L’amour fait passer les temps. Les temps faite passer l’amour. (Love makes time pass. Time makes love pass.) French Sundial Motto

A lean agreement is better than a fat lawsuit. German Proverb

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere. Chinese Proverb

Let every fox take care of his own tail. Italian Proverb

Let him make use of instinct who cannot make use of reason. English Proverb

Let no man deceive you with vain words. Biblical Proverb

Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way. Native American Proverb (Blackfoot)

Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf. Native American Proverb

Listen to all, plucking a feather from every passing goose, but, follow no one absolutely. Chinese Proverb

A little pot boils easily. Dutch Proverb

Live together like brothers and do business like strangers. Arab Proverb

Live with wolves, and you learn to howl. Spanish Proverb

Live your own life, for you will die your own death. Latin Proverb

Lomhlaba Unzima, Lohmhlaba. [This world is a harsh place, this world.] Zulu Proverb

Long absent, soon forgotten. Romanian Proverb

Look for the good, not the evil, in the conduct of members of the family. Jewish Proverb

Love and eggs are best when they are fresh. Russian Proverb

Love is like dew that falls on both nettles and lilies. Swedish Proverb

Love rules without rules. Italian Proverb

Love tells us many things that are not so. Ukrainian Proverb

Love your neighbor, but don’t tear down your fence. German Proverb

The loveliest of faces are to be seen by moonlight, when one sees half with the eye and half with the fancy. Persian Proverb

-M-

Make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come. Chinese Proverb

Make sure to be in with your equals if you’re going to fall out with your superiors. Jewish Proverb

Man has responsibility, not power. Native American Proverb (Tuscarora)

A man is not where he lives, but where he loves. Latin Proverb

A man’s first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart, his next to escape the censures of the world. English Proverb

The man who does not learn is dark, like one walking in the night. Chinese Proverb

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

Measure a thousand times and cut once. Turkish Proverb

-N-

Never advise anyone to go to war or to marry. Spanish Proverb

Never do anything standing that you can do sitting, or anything sitting that you can do lying down. Chinese Proverb

Never draw your dirk when a blow will do it. Scottish Proverb

Never fall out with your bread and butter. English Proverb

Never give advice in a crowd. Arab Proverb

Never give advice unless asked. German Proverb

Never rely on the glory of the morning or the smiles of your mother-in-law. Japanese Proverb

Never squat with your spurs on. Texan Proverb

Never trust the man who tells you all his troubles but keeps from you all his joys. Jewish Proverb

Never write a letter while you are angry. Chinese Proverb

Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you. American Proverb

No call alligator long mouth till you pass him. Jamaican Proverb

No need to teach an eagle to fly. Greek Proverb

No one can see their reflection in running water. It is only in still water that we can see. Taoist Proverb

No one is rich enough to do without a neighbor. Danish Proverb

Not all keys hang from one girdle. Norwegian Proverb

-O-

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

Old habits have deep roots. Norwegian Proverb

One does evil enough when one does nothing good. German Proverb

One drink is just right; two is too many; three are too few. Spanish Proverb

One meets his destiny often in the road he takes to avoid it. French Proverb

One should be just as careful in choosing one’s pleasures as in avoiding calamities. Chinese Proverb

Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun. Indian Proverb

-P-

Pray, pray very much; but beware of telling God what you want. French Proverb

-R-

Ready money works great cures. French Proverb

The reverse side also has a reverse side. Japanese Proverb

A rich man has no need of character. Hebrew Proverb

Proverbs Around The World

-S-

Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. American Proverb

Set a thief to catch a thief. French Proverb

Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. Swedish Proverb

Since the house is on fire let us warm ourselves. Italian Proverb

Since we cannot get what we like, let us like what we can get. Spanish Proverb

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study. Chinese Proverb

The sinning is the best part of repentance. Arabic Proverb

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. African Proverb

A snake deserves no pity. Yiddish Proverb

Speak of the devil and he appears. Italian Proverb

Spread the table and contention will cease. English Proverb

-T-

Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand. Native American Proverb

A true friend, is one that will take a bullet for you in the war. Italian Proverb

Tell me who’s your friend and I’ll tell you who you are. Russian proverb

There is a pinch of the madman in every great man. French Proverb

There is no flying without wings. French Proverb

There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience. French Proverb

There is nothing hidden between Heaven and Earth.Venezuelan Proverb

There wouldn’t be such a thing as counterfeit gold if there were no real gold somewhere. Sufi Proverb

Those who have free seats at a play hiss first. Chinese Proverb

Those who sleep with dogs will rise with fleas. Italian Proverb

Though a tree grow ever so high, the falling leaves return to the ground. Malayan Proverb

Three things it is best to avoid: a strange dog, a flood, and a man who thinks he is wise. Welsh Proverb

To attract good fortune, spend a new coin on an old friend, share an old pleasure with a new friend, and lift up the heart of a
true friend by writing his name on the wings of a dragon. Chinese Proverb

To change and change for the better are two different things. German Proverb

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

To know and to act are one and the same. Samurai Proverb

To know the road ahead, ask those coming back. Chinese Proverb

A tree never hits an automobile except in self defense. American Proverb

Trumpet in a herd of elephants; crow in the company of cocks; bleat in a flock of goats. Malayan Proverb

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you. Maori proverb

Proverbs Around The World

-U-

Under a ragged coat lies wisdom. Romanian Proverb

Under a tattered cloak you will generally find a good drinker. Spanish Proverb

Use power to curb power. Chinese Proverb

Use soft words and hard arguments. English Proverb

Use your enemy’s hand to catch a snake. Persian Proverb

-V-

Vision without action is a daydream. Action with without vision is a nightmare. Japanese Proverb

Vulnerant omnia, ultima necat. (All the [hours] wound you, the last one kills) Latin Proverb

-W-

Wait until it is night before saying that it has been a fine day. French Proverb

Walk till the blood appears on the cheek, but not the sweat on the brow. Spanish Proverb

We know the worth of a thing when we have lost it. French Proverb

What may be done at any time will be done at no time. Scottish Proverb

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry. French Proverb

What the heart thinks, the tongue speaks. Romanian Proverb

What the people believe is true. Native American Proverb (Anishinabe)

What was hard to endure is sweet to recall.French Proverb

What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your mouth. Jewish Proverb

What you give you get, ten times over. Yoruba Proverb

When a blind man carries a lame man, both go forward. Swedish proverb

When an elephant is in trouble even a frog will kick him. Hindu Proverb

When anger rises, think of the consequences. Confucius

When a thing is done, advice comes too late. Romanian Proverb

When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them. Chinese Proverb

When friends ask, there is no tomorrow. Miscellaneous Proverb

When in doubt, Gallop!Proverb of the French Foreign Legion

When one shuts one eye, one does not hear everything. Swiss Proverb

When spiders unite they can tie down a lion. Ethiopian Proverb

When the fox preaches, look to the geese. German Proverb

When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you. African Proverb

When two quarrel, both are to blame. Dutch Proverb

When we cannot get what we love, we must love what is within our reach. French Proverb

When you go to buy, use your eyes, not your ears. Czech Proverb

When you have no choice, mobilize the spirit of courage. Jewish Proverb

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other. Chinese Proverb

When you throw dirt, you lose ground. Texan Proverb

When you want to test the depths of a stream, don’t use both feet. Chinese Proverb

Where God has his church the Devil will have his chapel. Spanish Proverb

Where there is a sea there are pirates. Greek Proverb

Where there is love, there is pain. Spanish Proverb

Where there are no swamps there are no frogs. German Proverb

Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart. Confucius

Who depends on another man’s table often dines late. Italian Proverb

Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you. Spanish Proverb

The whisper of a pretty girl can be heard further than the roar of a lion. Arab Proverb

Who travels for love finds a thousand miles not longer than one. Japaneses Proverb

The wise man has long ears and a short tongue. German Proverb

The woman cries before the wedding and the man after. Polish Proverb

Words must be weighed, not counted. Polish Proverb

-Y-

You may laugh at a friend’s roof; don’t laugh at his sleeping accommodation. Kenyan Proverb

Young pigs grunt as as old pigs grunted before them. Danish Proverb

Your friend has a friend; don’t tell him. Jewish Proverb

You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. Navajo Proverb

You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was. Irish Proverb

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