Vietnamese Proverbs (tục ngữ Việt Nam)

The Vietnamese people, also called as Viet people or Kinh people (người Việt or người Kinh), are a Southeast Asian ethnic group native to present-day northern Vietnam, their nation state. They speak Vietnamese, the most widely spoken Austroasiatic language. 

A collection of Vietnamese Proverbs to inspire you. Wise Vietnamese sayings in the form of proverbs that have been passed down for generations.

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Vietnamese Proverbs

Popular Vietnamese Proverbs

A day of travelling will bring a basket-full of learning. – Vietnamese Proverb

Adversity brings wisdom. – Vietnamese Proverb

Fire is a good servant but a bad master. – Vietnamese Proverb

He that has a tongue in his head may find his way anywhere. – Vietnamese Proverb

If you want to travel fast use the old roads. – Vietnamese Proverb

Life is a temporary stop, death is the journey home. – Vietnamese Proverb

Sun is for cucumbers, rain for rice. – Vietnamese Proverb

The human tongue is more poisonous than a bee’s sting. – Vietnamese Proverb

Think today and speak tomorrow. – Vietnamese Proverb

When husband and wife live in harmony, they can dry up the ocean without a bucket. – Vietnamese Proverb

Where life is exhausted, death comes. – Vietnamese Proverb

Who keeps company with the wolf will learn to howl. – Vietnamese Proverb

Young bamboo trees are easy to bend. – Vietnamese Proverb

A bad compromise is better than a good lawsuit. – Vietnamese Proverb

A clean hand wants no washing. – Vietnamese Proverb

A day in prison is longer than a thousand years at large. – Vietnamese Proverb

A day of travelling will bring a basket-full of learning. – Vietnamese Proverb

A fair face may hide a foul heart. – Vietnamese Proverb

A fool may sometimes give a wise man counsel. – Vietnamese Proverb

A friend in need is a friend indeed. – Vietnamese Proverb

A friend when in need is a faithful friend. – Vietnamese Proverb

A frog living at the bottom of the well thinks that the sky is as small as a cooking pot lid. – Vietnamese Proverb

A good beginning is half the battle. – Vietnamese Proverb

A good name is better than good habits. – Vietnamese Proverb

A little food while hungry is like a lot of food while full. – Vietnamese Proverb

A mouse in time may bite in two a cable. – Vietnamese Proverb

A tongue that dives about like a shrimp. (about a malicious gossip/scandalmonger) – Vietnamese Proverb

Adversity brings wisdom – Vietnamese Proverb

After the storm the sun comes out. – Vietnamese Proverb

All cats are gray in the dark. – Vietnamese Proverb

All chili is hot; all women are jealous – Vietnamese Proverb

An egg today is better than a chicken tomorrow. – Vietnamese Proverb

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. – Vietnamese Proverb

As the call, so the echo. – Vietnamese Proverb

Beauty is but skin-deep. – Vietnamese Proverb

Because the caterpillar exists, there exists also a bird to eat it. – Vietnamese Proverb

Beggars can’t be choosers – Vietnamese Proverb

Better a lean peace than a fat victory. – Vietnamese Proverb

Better a wise man’s servant than an idiot’s master. – Vietnamese Proverb

Better to die than to live on with a bad reputation. – Vietnamese Proverb

Between two stools, you fall to the ground. – Vietnamese Proverb

Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet. – Vietnamese Proverb

Catch the bear before you sell his skin. – Vietnamese Proverb

Chewing, one eats. Reflecting, one speaks. – Vietnamese Proverb

Comfort is better than pride. – Vietnamese Proverb

Diamond cuts diamond. – Vietnamese Proverb

Do not halloo till you are out of the wood. – Vietnamese Proverb

Don’t set the attic on fire just because you didn’t catch any mice. – Vietnamese Proverb

Don’t spurn cold rice; hunger helps you eat even food that has gone bad. – Vietnamese Proverb

Don’t trouble trouble until trouble troubles you. – Vietnamese Proverb

Eat as small as a cat – Vietnamese Proverb

Eat to see the bowl, go to see the way. – Vietnamese Proverb

Eaten bread is soon forgotten. – Vietnamese Proverb

Eating as flying dragon, speaking as a climbing dragon and working as a vomited cat. – Vietnamese Proverb

Eating as in the North; clothing as in the South – Vietnamese Proverb

Eating slowly is good for the stomach; plowing deeply is good for the fields. – Vietnamese Proverb

Eats as strongly as elephant – Vietnamese Proverb

Elephants are killed for their ivory, birds for their feathers. – Vietnamese Proverb

Enter alcohol, exit words. – Vietnamese Proverb

Enter alcohol, exit words. Enter alcohol, exit words. – Vietnamese Proverb

Even if a mountain is high, there is always a way to reach the top—and although the way might be full of danger, there is always a way for someone to get through it. – Vietnamese Proverb

Even if a mountain is high, there is always a way to reach the top — and although the way might be full of danger, there is always a way for someone to get through it. Even if a mountain is high, there is always a way to reach the top – and although the way might be full of danger, there is always a way for someone to get through it. – Vietnamese Proverb

Every dog is a lion at home. – Vietnamese Proverb

Everybody’s business is nobody’s business. – Vietnamese Proverb

Familiarity breeds contempt. – Vietnamese Proverb

Feeding boys without teaching them: we raise asses. Feeding girls without teaching them: we raise pigs. – Vietnamese Proverb

Fine feathers make fine birds. – Vietnamese Proverb

Fine words butter no parsnips. – Vietnamese Proverb

Fire is a good servant but a bad master. – Vietnamese Proverb

Fortune favors the brave. – Vietnamese Proverb

Give him an inch and he will take a yard. – Vietnamese Proverb

Giving just a crumb to the hungry is worth more than giving lunch to the satisfied. – Vietnamese Proverb

Go out for a day, get a full basket of knowledge. – Vietnamese Proverb

Good wine must drink together with good friend – Vietnamese Proverb

Good wood is better than good paint. – Vietnamese Proverb

Happy hours are very short. – Vietnamese Proverb

Haste makes waste. – Vietnamese Proverb

He laughs best who laughs last. – Vietnamese Proverb

He that has a tongue in his head may find his way anywhere. – Vietnamese Proverb

He wanted to cure a healthy pig and ended up with a sick one. – Vietnamese Proverb

Heaven rewards and reprimands. – Vietnamese Proverb

However sharp it is, the knife will never cut it’s own handle. – Vietnamese Proverb

Hunger brings the wolf to the fold. – Vietnamese Proverb

Hunger finds no fault with cookery. – Vietnamese Proverb

Hungry bellies have no ears. – Vietnamese Proverb

If a father eats a lot of salt, his children will be thirsty. – Vietnamese Proverb

If you go out a lot at night, you will probably meet ghosts. – Vietnamese Proverb

If you hold high office, the whole village will share your fame. – Vietnamese Proverb

If you want to eat pickled herring, think about the thirst you will have. – Vietnamese Proverb

If you want to gather a lot of knowledge, act as if you are ignorant. – Vietnamese Proverb

If you want to travel fast use the old roads. – Vietnamese Proverb

If you won’t work, you shan’t eat. – Vietnamese Proverb

In hell, people starve because their hands are chained to six-foot-long chopsticks, too long to bring the rice to their mouths. Heaven is the same, only there, people feed each other. – Vietnamese Proverb

It is no disgrace to move out of the way of the elephant – Vietnamese Proverb

It’s best to wash one’s soiled linen at home. – Vietnamese Proverb

It’s better to have lots of children than to have lots of material goods. – Vietnamese Proverb

It’s better to sleep on the floor in an incense shop than in a bed in a fish market. – Vietnamese Proverb

Jack of all trades is master of none. – Vietnamese Proverb

Judge a man by his work – Vietnamese Proverb

Judge not, that ye be not judged. – Vietnamese Proverb

Lies have short legs. – Vietnamese Proverb

Life is a temporary stop, death is the journey home. – Vietnamese Proverb

Like cures like. – Vietnamese Proverb

Likes draws to like. – Vietnamese Proverb

Long absent, soon forgotten – Vietnamese Proverb

Make the amount of sauce you use correspond to the amount of rice you have. – Vietnamese Proverb

Man is the flower of the earth. – Vietnamese Proverb

Many a good father has but a bad son. – Vietnamese Proverb

Many dishes make many diseases. – Vietnamese Proverb

Many hands make light work. – Vietnamese Proverb

Men are blind in their own case – Vietnamese Proverb

Men made money; money never made men. – Vietnamese Proverb

Money can even corrupt the virtuous. – Vietnamese Proverb

Money makes the mare go. – Vietnamese Proverb

Necessity knows no laws. – Vietnamese Proverb

Never forget benefits done you, regardless how small. – Vietnamese Proverb

Nice words are free, so choose ones that please another’s ears. – Vietnamese Proverb

No man is a hero to his valet. – Vietnamese Proverb

No matter how sharp it is, a knife will never cut it’s own handle. – Vietnamese Proverb

No rain without clouds. – Vietnamese Proverb

No sweet without sweat. – Vietnamese Proverb

Old foxes want no tutor. – Vietnamese Proverb

Once the fish is caught, the net is let aside. – Vietnamese Proverb

One drop of poison infects the whole of wine. – Vietnamese Proverb

One good turn deserves another. – Vietnamese Proverb

One often gets what one disdains. – Vietnamese Proverb

One scabby sheep is enough to spoil the whole flock. – Vietnamese Proverb

One worm may damage the whole cooking soup – Vietnamese Proverb

Pay first and then get what you have paid for – Vietnamese Proverb

People live with their own idiosyncrasies and die of their own illnesses. – Vietnamese Proverb

People say that time goes by; time says that the people go by. – Vietnamese Proverb

Receive a plum, return a peach. – Vietnamese Proverb

Sated, he complained about the fish and the rice. – Vietnamese Proverb

Scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours. – Vietnamese Proverb

So many men, so many minds. – Vietnamese Proverb

Stolen foods are the best. – Vietnamese Proverb

Strong wood is worth more than painted wood. – Vietnamese Proverb

Sun is for cucumbers, rain for rice. – Vietnamese Proverb

Tell me where it itches if you want me to scratch you. – Vietnamese Proverb

The army is the poison and the people are the water in which the poison is mixed. – Vietnamese Proverb

The bird that escapes from its cage never wants to come back. – Vietnamese Proverb

The boat follows the helm, the woman follows her husband. – Vietnamese Proverb

The buffalo that arrive late will have to drink muddy water and eat dried grass. – Vietnamese Proverb

The buffalo that arrives late will have to drink muddy water and eat dry grass. – Vietnamese Proverb

The chained buffalo doesn’t enjoy grazing. – Vietnamese Proverb

The dog will always attack the one with torn trousers. – Vietnamese Proverb

The educated man precedes the farmer. But when the rice begins to run short, it’s the farmer who comes first. – Vietnamese Proverb

The fat buffalo will attract the lean buffalo. – Vietnamese Proverb

The good leaves protect the worn-out leaves. – Vietnamese Proverb

The higher you climb, the heavier you fall. – Vietnamese Proverb

The human tongue is more poisonous than a bee’s sting. – Vietnamese Proverb

The husband eats hamburger; the wife eats spring roll – Vietnamese Proverb

The leopard cannot change its spots. – Vietnamese Proverb

The mouth prays to Buddha, but the heart is full of evil. – Vietnamese Proverb

The rich become deaf and the mighty blind. – Vietnamese Proverb

The rich eat. The poor smoke. – Vietnamese Proverb

The rich worry over their money, the poor over their bread. – Vietnamese Proverb

There is no ivory in the mouth of a dog. – Vietnamese Proverb

There is one fish in the pond, and ten anglers on the bank. – Vietnamese Proverb

Think today and speak tomorrow. – Vietnamese Proverb

Though he eats alone, he calls the whole village to help launch his boat. – Vietnamese Proverb

Tit for tat. – Vietnamese Proverb

To carry coals to Newcastle. – Vietnamese Proverb

To fish in troubled waters. – Vietnamese Proverb

Try to seize the bowl of rice but forget the whole table of food – Vietnamese Proverb

Venture all; see what fate brings. – Vietnamese Proverb

Victory makes you into an emperor, defeat into a rebel. – Vietnamese Proverb

What is good for the buffalo is good for the cow. – Vietnamese Proverb

When a cat steals a piece of meat, we chase it. But when a tiger takes a pig we stare wide-eyed and say nothing. – Vietnamese Proverb

When eating a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree. – Vietnamese Proverb

When eating chew well, think before speaking. – Vietnamese Proverb

When eating choose the place, when playing choose your friends – Vietnamese Proverb

When eating fruit, remember who planted the tree; when drinking clear water, remember who dug the well. – Vietnamese Proverb

When husband and wife live in harmony, they can dry up the ocean without a bucket. – Vietnamese Proverb

When the cat is away, the mice will play – Vietnamese Proverb

When the cat’s away the mouse sits on its throne. – Vietnamese Proverb

When the father has eaten too much salt in his lifetime, then his son thereafter will have a great thirst. – Vietnamese Proverb

When the pain has passed one forgets the medicine. – Vietnamese Proverb

When the tree falls, any child can climb it. – Vietnamese Proverb

When you eat, it’s vegetables; when you are sick, it’s medicine. – Vietnamese Proverb

Where life is exhausted, death comes. – Vietnamese Proverb

Who breaks, pays. – Vietnamese Proverb

Who keeps company with the wolf will learn to howl. – Vietnamese Proverb

Women are like raindrops: some fall on palaces, others on rice fields. – Vietnamese Proverb

You cannot breathe through another man’s nose. – Vietnamese Proverb

You eat slowly, that is good for stomach; you plough deeply, that is good for fields. – Vietnamese Proverb

Young bamboo trees are easy to bend. – Vietnamese Proverb

Vietnamese Proverbs

English to Vietnamese

  • All chili is hot; all women are jealous – Ot nao ma ot chang cay, gai nao ma gai chang hay ghen chong
  • Constant dripping hollows out the stone – Nước chảy đá mòn = What might seem like a slow, futile and repetitive attempt at something might actually achieve its results in the long term.
  • Eat as small as a cat – An nhu meo
  • Eat the plum – given as a gift but give back a peach – An ma^.n tra? dda`o = Return gift to gift
  • Eating and sitting without labor – An khong ngoi roi = to be at the loose end
  • Eating as in the North; clothing as in the South – An Bac, mac nam
  • Eating is much but accommodating is little. – An nhieu, o may
  • Eats as strongly as elephant – An khoe nhu voi
  • Eating nothing but saying yes – An khong noi co = to slander
  • Good wine must drink together with good friend – Ruou ngon phai co ban hien
  • We fence – or protect the tree that gives us fruits – An ca^y na`o, ra`o ca^y a^’y
  • Hard work pays off. – Co cong mai sat; co ngay nen kim. = If you put in the work to sharpen steel, it will eventually turn into needles.
  • It depends on how much of rice you eat the sauce – Lieu com gap mam = cut your coat according to your cloth according to your means
  • It’s better to eat salty food and speak the truth than to eat vegetarian and tell lies – An ma.n no’i ngay ho*n an chay no’i do^’i = Better to eat meat and speak truth than to fast and tell lies
  • Looks as monkey eats ginger – Nhu khi an gung
  • One piece of food while hungry equals a big box of food while full – Mot mieng khi doi bang mot goi khi no
  • One worm may damage the whole cooking soup – Con sau bo dau noi canh
  • Pay first and then get what you have paid for – Tie^`n trao cha’o mu’c
  • The good leaves protect the worn-out leaves – La lanh dum la rach
  • The husband eats hamburger; the wife eats spring roll – Ong an cha ba an nem
  • The man show a pig leg, the woman show a bottle of wine – Ong gio chan gio; ba tho chai ruou [Or: Ong dua chan gio, ba tho chai ruou] = = scratch my back and I shall scratch yours

The student tried to steal the cooking fish 
The teacher found out. The student says Oh forgive me 
I just opened the fish container.
If you were a bit later, I would have taken the whole fish container.

Hoc tro an vung ca kho
Thay do bat duoc, oi a con chua
Thua thay co moi mo vung
Thay cham ti nua con bung ca noi

  • Trèo cao té đau – The higher you climb, the more you hurt if you fall
    One of the most literal proverbs around, the more prominent you become, the greater the humiliation when you fall.
  • Try to seize the bowl of rice but forget the whole table of food – Tham bat bo mam
    A direct reference to procrastination: do it while it’s the best time to do so.
  • When eating chew well, think before speaking – An co’ nhai, no’i co’ nghi~
  • When eating choose the place, when playing choose your friends – An cho.n no*i, cho*i cho.n ba.n = be fastidious
  • When having a party, go first; when walking in the water, go after – An co di truoc, loi nuoc theo sau = He that comes first to the hill may sit where he will = the early bird catches the worm
  • When you eat, check the pots and pans; When you sit, check the direction. – An trong noi, ngoi trong huong
  • When you eat, it’s vegetable, when you are sick, it’s medicine – Co*m thi` rau, ddau thi` thuo^’c
  • You eat slowly, that is good for stomach; you plough deeply, that is good for fields – An ky no lau, cay sau tot lua

Vietnamese Proverbs

Vietnamese to English

  • An khang thịnh vượn.
    • Security, good health, and prosperity.
  • Ăn quả nhớ kẻ trồng cây
    • When eating a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree
    • When you are being presented with something good, think of the process that came behind the presentation too.
  • Cái khó ló cái khôn
    • Adversity is the mother of wisdom
    • Most problems can be viewed as a lesson to make one wiser.
  • Chúc mừng năm mới.
    • Happy (Lunar) New Year.
  • Có chí làm quan có gan làm giàu
    • Fortune favours the brave
    • You will have good luck if you carry your plans out boldly.
  • Con sâu làm rầu nồi canh
    • One drop of poison infects the whole tun of wine
    • All it takes is one small toxic addition and it will affect the entire item.
  • Cung chúc tân xuân.
    • Gracious wishes of the new spring
  • Đi một ngày đàng học một sàng khôn
    • A day of travelling will bring a basket full of learning.
    • To be able to think out of the box, you need to get out of your comfort zone and experience a new environment.
  • Dục tốc bất đạt 
    • Haste makes waste
    • Acting on something too quickly may actually slow things down.
  • Khẩu phật tâm xà
    • A fair face may hide a foul heart
    • Related to the famous proverb “never judge a book by its cover”. An attractive person many not necessarily be a good person.
  • Lắm mối tối nằm không
    • If you run after two hares, you’ll catch neither
    • Contrary to what your boss might think, it’s actually close to impossible to do two things successfully at the same time – at least according to this proverb.
  • Một con én không làm nên mùa xuân
    • A swallow doesn’t make a spring
    • One swallow does not make a spring, only an entire flock does.
  • Múa rìu qua mắt thợ
    • Never offer to teach fish to swim
    • You’ve probably experienced a situation like this before: someone trying to teach you something that you’re already well-versed in.
  • Ngọt mật chết ruồi
    • You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar
    • This proverb about approaching your day with a smile is known around the world, but in Vietnam it has a slightly different context.
  • Bán an em xa mua láng giềng gần.
    • Translation: Trade distant relatives for close neighbour.
      Meaning: Those who live near you are most helpful, especially in emergencies, when blood-related people are far away and unable to deliver instant help.
  • Mèo khen mèo dài đuôi
    • Translation: The cat praises cats’ tails to be long (beautiful).
      Meaning: Humans have the inclination to be conceited, seeing objects belonging to them are the best
  • Đừng chế nhạo người.
    • Translation: Laugh and the world will laugh with you.              
  • Gần mực thì đen, gần đèn thì rạng.
    • Translation: Tell me with whom though goest, and I will tell what though doest.
      Meaning: If you live in a bad environment, you will be so influenced; if you live in a good environment, you will be so influenced.
  • Yêu ai yêu cả đường đi.
    • Translation: Someone they love and the road that bears that person’s footprints.
      Meaning: If you love someone, you also love that road.
  • Bao lâu vắng mặt khát khao, bao giờ gặp muốn cào mắt ra.
    • Translation: Away, one feels longing; now, face to face, one wants to scratch off the other’s face.
    • Meaning: Someone who alternately idealizes then devalues his/her loved one.
  • Đen tình, đỏ bạc.
    • Translation: Lucky at cards, unlucky in love.
      Meaning: If you frequently win at card games, you will not have happy love affairs.
  • Sai một ly đi một dặm – A miss is as good as a mile = a failure is a failure is a failure.
  • Sống lâu trăm tuổi. – Long life of 100 years: used by children for elders
  • Vạn sự như ý. – All wishes come true.
  • Việc hôm nay chớ để ngày mai – Make hay while the sun shines

One drop of poison infects the whole of wine. -Vietnamese Proverb

  • Ăn miếng trả miếng
    • Eat one, pay one. Tit for tat .
    • Measure for measure . An eye for an eye . A tooth for a tooth.
    • Như Cầu Võ (2000). Tục ngữ-ca dao dân ca Việt Nam: song ngữ Việt-Anh. Nhà xuất bản Đồng Nai. p. 37.
  • Bắt cá hai tay.
    • Translation: You catch fish with both hands.
    • English equivalent: Between two stools, you fall to the ground; To run with the hare and hold with the hound; Two timer; You have one cake but cannot eat it up.
    • Meaning: If you cannot make up your mind which of two things you should do, you are liable to get yourself into difficulties by doing neither.
    • Vocabulaire élémentaire Français-Vietnamien. Lulu.com. p. 14. ISBN 978-2-9531291-0-6.
  • Cái khó ló cái khôn.
    • English equivalent: Adversity is the mother of wisdom.
    • “Most of us seldom take the trouble to think. Crises and deadlocks when they occur have at least this advantage, that they force us to think.”
    • Jawaharlal Nehru The Unity of India : Collected Writings, 1937-1940 (1942), p. 94
    • Hoàng, (Vietnam) (1994). Kể chuyện thành ngữ, tục ngữ. Khoa học xãhội. p. 7.
  • Cái nết đánh chết cái đẹp.
    • English equivalent: Handsome is as handsome does.
    • “People should be valued for their good deeds, not their good looks, also occasionally used of things, or as a warning not to be misled by an attractive appearance.”
    • “Beauty comes from within, which kills good looks”, in another perspective; being genuine human beings mean we should be less perceptive on other human beings, as it isn’t their fault they were born with good looks. In conclusion, just be kind always. with or without deeds. where ever, when ever, how ever, and to whoever”.
    • Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5.
    • Quang (2004). Khơi nguò̂n mỹhọc dân tộc. Nhàxuá̂t bản Chính trịquó̂c gia. p. 27.
  • Cẩn tắc vô ưu.
    • Good watch prevents misfortune.
    • English equivalent: Harm watch is harm catch.
    • Quang Mân Trần (2002). Thành ngữ & Tục ngữ Việt Nam chọn lọc: Song ngữ Việt-Anh. Trẻ. p. 90.
  • Càng đông càng vui.
    • English equivalent:The more, the merrier.
    • Bảo (2001). Văn nghệmột thời đênhớ. Văn học. p. 455.
  • Cha nào, con nấy.
    • Like father, like son
    • Dinh Hoa, Nguyen; Van Giuong, Phan (15 December 2006). “fellow”. Tuttle English-Vietnamese Dictionary. Tuttle. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-4629-1780-8.
  • Chậm mà chắc.
    • English equivalent: Slowly but surely
    • Nguyen Dinh Hoa; Phan Van Giuong (15 December 2006). “slow”. Tuttle English-Vietnamese Dictionary. p. 279. ISBN 978-1-4629-1780-8.
  • Cháy nhà mới ra mặt chuột
    • English equivalent: Rats desert a sinking ship.
    • Meaning: Only when something bad happens; the skeleton(s) in the closet will be revealed.
    • Lê (1991). Lột mặt nạnhững con thòlòchính trị. MẹViệt Nam. p. 38.
  • Chết vinh còn hơn sống nhục
Better die a beggar than live a beggar.
Better die on your feet than live on your knees.
    • ** Gia Thy, Vuong (2018). “Còn nước, còn tát”. Learning to Live Through Vietnamese and American Proverbs: A Bilingual Vietnamese-English Edition. p. 305. ISBN 978-1-984541-43-7.
  • Chín người, mười ý.
    • Translation: “Nine people, ten ideas”
    • Meaning: The more people you include, the more opinions and debates you will have.
    • Quang Hồ, Văn (1998). Trí thức Việt Nam cuối thế kỷ mười tám. p. 18.
  • Chở củi về rừng.
    • English equivalent: To carry wood back into the forest.
    • Meaning: Doing something unnecessary.
  • Chó sủa là chó không cắn.
    • Translation and English equivalent: Barking dogs seldom bite
  • Chơi chó, chó liếm mặt Familiarity breeds contempt.
    • Nguyêñ, Nguyêñ, Phan, (Vietnam) (1993). Từđiên̕thành ngữViệt Nam. Văn hóa. p. 154.
  • Chưa đỗ ông nghè đã đe hàng tổng.
    • Catch the bear before you sell his skin
    • Thái Hòa Nguyễn (1997). Tục ngữ Việt Nam: cấu trúc và thi pháp. Nhà xuất bản Khoa học xã hội. p. 111.
  • Chứng nào tật nấy.
    • Who drinks, will drink again
    • Van Giuong (2008). Tuttle Compact Vietnamese Dictionary: Vietnamese-English English-Vietnamese. Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd.. p. 61.
  • Có chí làm quan, có gan làm giàu.
    • English equivalent: Fortune favors the brave.
    • “Those who act boldly or courageously are most likely to succeed.”
    • Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5.
    • Vân Hoà (14 April 2011). Mille et un proverbes. Editions Publibook. p. 62. ISBN 978-2-7483-6347-0.
  • Có công mài sắt có ngày nên kim.
    • Practice makes perfect
    • Translation: If you put in the work to sharpen the steel, it will eventually turn into needles.
    • English equivalent: Persevere and never fear.
    • Meaning: Persistence pays.
    • Lương. Yêu ngoài giờ. Công ty Văn hóa Hương Trang. p. 83.
  • Có mới nới cũ
New one in, old one out
  • Có tật giật mình
He who excuses himself, accuses himself.
  • Có trí thì nên.
    • English equivalent: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
    • Meaning: “If you are sufficiently determined to achieve something, then you will find a way of doing so.”
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 299. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5.
    • Stone, J. R. (2005). The Routledge Dictionary of Latin Quotations: The Illiterati’s Guide to Latin Maxims, Mottoes, Proverbs and Sayings, Routledge. p. 351
    • Nguyẽ̂n (1971). Cóchíthìnên. Nam-hà1.
  • Còn nước, còn tát
While there’s life, there’s hope.
  • Con sâu làm rầu nồi canh.
  • Con sâu làm rầu nồi canh – Một người làm đĩ xấu danh đàn bà .
    • One drop of poison infects the whole of wine
    • Hoà (2011). Mille et un proverbes. Publibook/Sociétédes écrivains. p. 73.
  • Chim sợ cành cong.
    • English equivalent: once bitten, twice shy
    • Chơn, Tâm Chơn. Bóng trúc bên thềm. Nhàsách Quang Minh. p. 119.
  • Chở củi về rừng
    • return the wood to its jungle
    • Hoà (2011). Mille et un proverbes. Publibook/Sociétédes écrivains. p. 91.
  • Chưa đỗ ông nghè đã đe hàng tổng
    • Sơn (2001). Truyện cỏ̂tích Việt Nam: bình giải. Vǎn học. p. 690.
  • Chưa khỏi vòng đã cong đuôi.
    • Meaning: Don’t celebrate until you are 100 % sure there is a reason to do so.
    • (Vietnam) (1999). Tuyển tập văn học dân gian Việt Nam. Nhàxuất bản Giáo dục. p. 47.
  • Có còn hơn không.
    • English equivalent: Something is better than nothing
    • Giáo sưHoàng Xuân Việt. Tìm hiểu lịch sửchữquốc ngữ. Công ty Văn hóa Hương Trang. p. 369.
  • Có thực mới vực được đạo.
    • English equivalent: It’s no use preaching to a hungry man
    • Meaning: Having food (energy/money) is the prerequisite to achieve anything.
    • United States. Joint Publications Research Service (1996). Vietnamese-English dictionary, Volume 1. U.S. Joint Publications Research Service. p. 173.
  • Có tiền mua tiên cũng được.
    • English equivalent: Money talks. If you have money, can you buy even fairies.
    • Meaning: Money makes things easier.
    • Nguyẽ̂n, Hoa, Phan (2006). Tuttle English-Vietnamese dictionary. Tuttle. p. 154. ISBN 0804837422.
  • Của thiên, trả địa.
  • Translation: (That which) Belongs to heaven, returns to earth.
    • English equivalent: Ill gotten, ill spent. (Mr. B Lam)
  • Cùng tắc biến, biến tắc thông
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.
  • Cười người hôm trước, hôm sau người cười.
    • Translation: Laughs at others today, (and) tomorrow others will laugh at you
    • English equivalent: He who laughs last, laughs best.
    • Meaning: “Minor successes or failures along the way are of no significance – the person who is ultimately triumphant is the only real winner.”
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5.
    • Minh. Học tròkhông học buổi nào. Công ty Văn hóa Hương Trang. p. 81.
  • Dể được, dể mất
    • English equivalent: Easy come, easy go.
    • Meaning: “Things that are easily acquired, especially money, are just as easily lost or spent.”
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 7 September 2013.
    • Lân (2006). Của thiên trảđịa. Tổng hợp Đồng Nai.
  • Dĩ độc trị độc.
    • English equivalent: Fight fire with fire.
    • Meaning: “The best way to deal with an opponent is to fight back with similair weapons or tactics.”
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5.
    • Thiền sư Quy Sơn Linh Hựu – Nguyễn Minh Tiến dịch và chú giải. Quy Sơn cảnh sách văn. Công ty Văn hóa Hương Trang. p. 70. GGKEY:UHY5HY2HSS4.
  • Dĩ hoà vi quý.
    • Translation: Making peace is treasured.
    • Closest English equivalent: Make love, not war.
    • Minh. Gọi nắng xuân về. Nhàsách Quang Minh. p. 116.
  • Dục tốc bất đạt. More haste, less speed.
    • Nguyẽ̂n (2000). Côđơn con người, côđơn thi sĩ: tiểu luận-phêbình. Nhàxuất bản Văn hóa dân tộc. p. 71.
  • Dục tốc bất đạt.
    • English equivalentː Haste makes waste.
    • Hoà, Vân (14 April 2011). “466”. Mille et un proverbes. Editions Publibook. p. 97. ISBN 978-2-7483-6347-0.<ref<>/ref>name:đinhbathai]]
  • Đã trót thì phải trét.
    • If you sell the cow, you will sell her milk too
  • Đánh chết cái nết cũng không chừa.
    • Translation: You can’t kill someone’s habit.
    • English equivalent: Old habits die hard.
    • Hoà (2011). Mille et un proverbes. Publibook/Sociétédes écrivains. p. 102.
  • Đầu xuôi đuôi lọt.
    • English equivalent: A good beginning makes a good ending.
    • Meaning: “Starting properly ensures the speedy completion of a process. A – beginning is often blocked by one or more obstacles (potential barriers) the removal of which may ensure the smooth course of the process.”
    • Source for meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). “40”. European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 228. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
    • Hoang. Van minh lam giau \& Nguon goc cua cai (NXB Chinh tri Quoc gia, 2007). Dr. Vuong Quan Hoang. p. 157.
  • Đèn nhà ai nấy sáng.
    • Half the world not know how the other half lives
  • Đen tình, đỏ bạc.
    • Lucky at cards, unlucky in love
  • Đi một ngày đàng, học một sàng khôn.
    • Travelling forms a young man
    • Travelling widens one’s horizon.
  • Đi với bụt mặc áo cà sa, đi với ma mặc áo giấy.
    • Pay a man back in the same coin
    • Nguyê̋n, Lê, Vő, Viê̜t Nam, (Vietnam) (2006). Thông báo văn hoádân gian 2005. Nhàxuá̂t bản Khoa học xa̋hội. p. 150.
  • Điếc không sợ súng.
    • Translation: He that knows nothing doubts nothing.
    • Ky Su Trong Tu. Lulu.com. p. 325.
  • Đoàn kết thì sống, chia rẽ thì chết.
    • English equivalentː United we stand, divided we fall
    • Quỳnh, Lâm (1968). Từ diển Anh-Việt, chính-trị, hành-chính, kinh-tế, tài-chính, pháp-luật. In tại Thanh-Hiền. p. 256.
  • Đời cha ăn mặn, đời con khát nước.
    • Translation: When the father’s generation eats salt, the child’s generation thirsts for water.
    • Chinese equivalent: Father’s debt, son to give back.
    • Minh (2005). Thá̆p ngọn đuó̂c hò̂ng. Nhàxuá̂t bản Tộng hợp Thành phó̂Hò̂ChíMinh. p. 118.
  • Đông tay vỗ nên kêu
    • Trí Viêñ Lê (1998). Quy luật phát triển lịch sử văn học Việt-Nam. nhà xuất bản Giáo dục. p. 216. Retrieved on 4 September 2013.
  • Đồng thanh tương ứng, đồng khí tương cầu.
  • Đồng thanh tương ứng, đồng khí tương cầu. Ngưu tầm ngưu, mã tầm mã
    • English equivalent: Birds of a feather flock together.
    • Meaning: Similar people often become friends.
    • Tùng, Kieu (2006). Tửvi Chân Thuyên. Lulu.com. p. 2.
  • Đừng chế nhạo người
    • Laugh and the world will laugh with you
  • Đừng xét đoán người qua bề ngoài
    • Do not judge the book by its cover
    • Do not judge people by their appearance
  • Được đằng chân, lân đằng đầu.
    • Nguyễn (1997). Bímật gia đình Lâm Bưu. Văn Nghệ. p. 432.<ref<>/ref>name:đinhbathai]]
  • Gần mực thì đen, gần đèn thì rạng.
    • Translation: If near ink, you will be black, if near light, you will shine.
    • English equivalent: Tell me with whom though goest, and I will tell what though doest.
    • Chʻing-yün Chu-ko; Khánh Phụng Từ (1971). Thư kiếm xuân thu: (võ hiệp kỳ tình trường thiên tiểu thuyết). Đại Nam. p. 179. Retrieved on 4 September 2013.
  • Gậy ông đập lưng ông.
    • Vũ, Quốc (2003). Gậy ông đập lưng ông. NXB. Thanh niên. pp. 159.
  • Giận hóa mất khôn.
    • Hatred is as blind as love
  • Gieo gió gặp bão.
    • What you reap shall reap
    • Minh. Nắng mới bên thềm xuân. Công ty Văn hóa Hương Trang. p. 102.
  • Gieo gió gặt bão.
    • We reap as we sow
  • Hoạ vô đon chí.
    • Translation: Misfortunes never come singly.
    • English equivalent: Misery loves company.
    • Nguyen (2011). Legends of the Promised Land. Dorrance Publishing Company. p. 38.
  • Hữu xạ tự nhiên hương.
    • English equivalent: Good wine needs no bush.
    • Meaning: “A good product does not need advertising.”
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5.
    • Hao Tran Thi (1 September 2010). Proverbes, dictons, locutions usuels en français en en vietnamien. Editions L’Harmattan. p. 11. ISBN 978-2-296-26409-0.
  • Im lặng là vàng.
    • English equivalent: Silence is golden.
    • Vuong Gia Th?y (13 October 2018). “Im lặng là vàng”. Learning to Live Through Vietnamese and American Proverbs: A Bilingual Vietnamese-English Edition. p. 53. ISBN 978-1-984541-43-7.
  • Im lặng tức là đồng ý.
    • Translation: Silence gives consent.
    • Hoàng (1998). Vằng vặc sao khuê: tiểu thuyết lịch sử. Văn học. p. 155.
  • Không biết thì dựa cột mà nghe
    • Translation: If you don’t know something listen.
    • This refers to students leaning against a pillar of a classroom to listen to a teacher
  • Không có lửa làm sao có khói
  • Không có lửa sao có khói.
    • Translation and English equivalent: There is no smoke without fire.
    • Meaning: “There is no effect without some cause.” or “It is supposed that if there is a rumour, there must be some truth behind it.”
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). “1”. European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 33. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
    • Van Giuong (2008). Tuttle Compact Vietnamese Dictionary: Vietnamese-English English-Vietnamese. Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd.. p. 180.
  • Không vào hang cọp sao bắt được cọp con.
    • Neck or nothing
  • Kiên nhẫn là mẹ thành công.
    • Translation: patience is mother of success.
  • Kiêu ngạo đi trước, bại hoại theo sau. (Kinh Thánh)
    • Fall comes after pride. (the Bible) Mr. B
  • Lắm mối tối nằm không.
If you run after two hares, you’ll catch none
  • Lời nói không đi đôi với việc làm.
    • Do as I say, not as I do.
    • Translation: Words don’t match with actions.
    • Meaning: The person referred to in the proverb is a hypocrite; he says one thing but does another.
    • English equivalent: Preachers say: Do as I say, not as I do.
    • Nguyen Dinh Hoa; Phan Van Giuong (15 December 2006). “variance”. Tuttle English-Vietnamese Dictionary. p. 342. ISBN 978-1-4629-1780-8.
  • Lời nói là bạc, im lặng là vàng
    • Speech is silver, silence is gold
    • Tạp chí văn học. 1991. p. 50.
  • Lực bất tòng tâm.
So much to do, so little done.
  • Ở hiền gặp lành.
One good turn deserves another
  • Mỗi thời, mỗi cách
Other times, other ways
  • Một giọt máu đào hơn ao nước lã.
    • English equivalent: Blood is thicker than water.
    • “In case of need relatives usually help each other more than strangers. – The bonds of relationship are more binding than other bonds.”
    • Vocabulaire élémentaire Français-Vietnamien. Lulu.com. p. 59.
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). “41”. European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 233. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
  • Miệng hùm, gan sứa.
If you cannot bite, never show your teeth
  • Máu chảy, ruột mềm.
When the blood sheds, the heart aches
  • Muộn còn hơn không
Better late than never
  • Mưu sự tại nhân, thành sự tại thiên.
    • English equivalent: Man proposes, god disposes.
    • Meaning: Things seldom turn out as you have planned.
    • Van Giuong (2007). Tuttle Compact Vietnamese Dictionary. C. E. Tuttle. p. 339. ISBN 0804838712.
  • Một câu nhịn chín câu lành.
    • Translation: Better a lean peace than a fat victory.
    • Minh. Hoa nhẫn nhục. Nhàsách Quang Minh. p. 15.
  • Méo mó có hơn không.
    • English equivalent: Half a loaf is better than no bread.
    • Kho tàng tục ngữ người Việt. 2002. p. 1761.
  • Nói dễ, làm khó.
    • Easier said than done.
    • Vuong Gia Th?y (13 October 2018). “Nói dễ, Làm Khó”. Learning to Live Through Vietnamese and American Proverbs: A Bilingual Vietnamese-English Edition. p. 283. ISBN 978-1-984541-43-7.
  • No bụng đói con mắt.
His eyes are bigger than his belly
  • Ngưu tầm ngưu, mã tầm mã
    • English equivalent: Birds of a feather flock together.
    • HCM. “assembler”. France – Vietnamese dictionary. p. 119.
  • Nhân nào, quả nấy.
    • Translation: For every seed a corresponding fruit.
    • English equivalent: You reap what you sow.
    • Nguyễn Hữu Kiệt dịch. Những bíẩn cuộc đời. Công ty Văn hóa Hương Trang. p. 288.
  • Nói trước bước không qua.
    • English equivalent: Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. (Mr. B Lam)
  • Nước chảy đá mòn.
    • Translation: Water flows, rock erodes.
    • English equivalent: Constant dripping wears the stone.
    • “A drop hollows out the stone by falling not twice, but many times; so too is a person made wise by reading not two, but many books.”
    • (Giordano Bruno, Il Candelaio)
    • Diệu, Nguyễn (2001). Toàn tập Xuân Diệu. Văn học. p. 76.
  • Ngọt mật chết ruồi.
    • Translation: You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.
  • Ở hiền gặp lành.
One good turn deserves another
  • Phi thương,bất phú.
    • Translation: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    • Meaning: It is necessary to take risks in order to achieve something.
    • Hoàng (2007). Silk for Silver: Dutch-Vietnamese Relations, 1637-1700. Brill. p. 125.
  • Rượu vào, lời ra.
Drunkenness reveals what soberness conceals.
  • Sinh nghề tử nghiêp.
    • English equivalent: Live by the sword, die by the sword. (the Bible)Mr. B
    • “Those who engage in aggression or violence will meet their death in a similar way.”
    • Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5.
    • Hao Tran Thi (1 September 2010). Proverbes, dictons, locutions usuels en français en en vietnamien. Editions L’Harmattan. p. 73. ISBN 978-2-296-26409-0.
  • Sinh sự, sự sinh.
    • English equivalent: Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you.
    • Đinh, Nam (2000). Tỏ̂ng tập văn học Việt Nam. Khoa Học XãHội. p. 125.
  • Tai vách, mạch rừng.
    • English equivalent: Walls have ears.
    • Meaning: “What you say may be overheard; used as a warning.”
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: 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.
    • Như Ý Nguyêñ; Văn Khang Nguyêñ; Xuân Thành Phan (1993). Tư ̀điên̕ thành ngư ̃Việt Nam. Văn hóa. p. 570. Retrieved on 27 September 2013.
  • Tay làm hàm nhai
    • Translation: The hand works, the mouth (is allowed to) chew.
    • English equivalent: He that does not work shall not eat.
    • “Without due effort one is not entitled to the fruits of the work.”
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 256. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
    • Van Giuong (2008). Tuttle Compact Vietnamese Dictionary: Vietnamese-English English-Vietnamese. Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd.. p. 125.
  • Tham thì thâm.
    • English equivalent: Grasp all, lose all.
    • Van Giuong (2008). Tuttle Compact Vietnamese Dictionary: Vietnamese-English English-Vietnamese. Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd.. p. 331.
  • Thấy đỏ tưởng chín.
    • Translation: Mistaking red for ripe.
    • Dr Vương Quân Hoàng (2007). Văn Minh Làm Giàu & Nguồn Gốc Của Cải. Nhà xuất bản Chính trị quốc gia – Sự thật. p. 415.
  • Tiền nào của đó.
    • English equivalent: If you buy cheaply, you pay dearly; If you buy quality you only cry once.
    • Lê (2000). Một giáhai giáhay vôgiá?: một sốbài phóng sự, kýsựvàghi chép. Trẻ. p. 35.
  • Trèo cao, té đàu.
    • Translation: The higher you climb, the greater you fall.
    • Meaning: Slip-ups becomes more consequential, the more influence you have.
    • (Vietnam) (2005). Tié̂ng Hué̂, người Hué̂\& văn hóa Hué̂. Nhàxuá̂t bản Văn học. p. 47.
  • Thất bại là mẹ thành công.
    • English equivalent: Failure is the mother of success.
    • Thị Đào Phan (2001). Tìm hiểu thi pháp tục ngữ Việt Nam. p. 41.
  • Tư Tưởng Lớn Gặp Nhau.
    • Great minds think alike.
    • Tư Tưởng Lớn Gặp Nhau
    • Gia Thy, Vuong (2018). “Còn nước, còn tát”. Learning to Live Through Vietnamese and American Proverbs: A Bilingual Vietnamese-English Edition. p. 305. ISBN 978-1-984541-43-7.
  • Uống nước nhớ nguồn
uống hộ

Translation: Remember the source when you drink

  • Vụng chèo khéo chống
Translation: A poor workman blames his tools.
  • Vạn sự khởi đầu nan.
It is the first step that counts
  • Việc người thì sáng, việc mình thi quáng
Men are blind in their own cause
  • Vắng chủ nhà, gà mọc vọc niêu tôm.
When the cat is away, the mice will play
  • Việc gì làm được hôm nay chớ để ngày mai.
Make hay while the sun shines.
  • Xa mặt, cách lòng.
    • Translation: Out of sight, out of mind.
    • English equivalent: “Long absent, soon forgotten” and also “Out of sight, out of mind.”
    • Diệu Kim biên soạn. Đốvui Phật pháp. Nhàsách Quang Minh. p. 195.
  • Xem việc biết người.
    • English equivalent: A workman is known by his chips.
    • Võ (2004). Ngôn ngữdân gian Việt Nam: song ngữViệt-Anh. Nhàxuất bản Văn hóa thông tin. p. 31.

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