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Old Thursday, August 11, 2011
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Default Proverbs and their meanings

A proverb is a saying, usually short, that expresses a general truth about life.
Proverbs give advice, make an observation, or present a teaching in a succinct and
memorable way.



A

absence is the mother of disillusion: A period of separation may enable you to consider people or things more objectively and see them in a truer but less favorable light:

absence makes the heart grow fonder:Your affection for those close to you—family and friends—increases when you are parted from them.

accidents will happen in the best-regulated families: No matter how careful you are, you may still do something by accident or mistake; often used to console somebody who has done such a thing.

accusing the times is but excusing ourselves:People who seek to blame the times or conditions they live in are really trying to avoid taking the blame themselves:
Proverb expressing similar meanings:
he who excuses himself accuses himself.

admiration is the daughter of ignorance:People often admire others about whom they only have incomplete knowledge:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over.
Proverb expressing opposite meaning:
prejudice is the daughter of ignorance.

adventures are to the adventurous:Those who are not bold, and who take no risks, will not have exciting lives or achieve spectacular things:

adversity makes strange bedfellows: In times of hardship or misfortune people often befriend or form alliances with those whose company they would normally avoid:
Variants of this proverb: misery makes strange bedfellows; poverty makes
strange bedfellows.


alcohol will preserve anything but a secret: People have a tendency to talk too freely and become indiscreet when they are drunk.
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
drunkenness reveals what soberness conceals; there’s truth in wine.

all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others: In a society or organization where all are supposedly equal, it is often the case that some have special privileges,or greater power than others.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
all men are created equal.

the age of miracles is past:
Miracles no longer happen; used when some desirable occurrence seems highly unlikely.
Proverb expressing opposite meaning:wonders will never cease!

agree, for the law is costly: It is expensive to settle disputes in court because of the legal costs involved.

all arts are brothers, each is a light to the other: The arts should not be considered as separate entities but as parts of one whole, each complementing and leading to a better understanding and appreciation of the others.

all cats are gray in the dark: People have no distinguishing features, and their appearance becomes unimportant, in the dark; sometimes used with reference to a person’s choice of sexual partner:

all good things must come to an end: Nothing lasts forever; often said resignedly when a pleasant experience or sequence of events finally ends.

all is fish that comes to the net:Everything,no matter how small or unpromising, can be put to use:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
all is grist that comes to the mill.

all fish are not caught with flies: In some circumstances different methods must be employed to achieve a desired end.

all’s fair in love and war: Any action,however mean or unscrupulous, is permissible in certain situations; often used to justify cheating or deception.

all men are created equal: No person is born superior or inferior to another, so all should have equal rights.
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
jack’s as good as his master; all
animals are equal, but some are more
equal than others.
Proverb expressing opposite meaning:
equality begins in the grave.

all’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds: Everything that happens does so for a good reason, and things in general cannot be any better; generally used to present an optimistic worldview.

all roads lead to Rome: There are many different ways to achieve the same result,or to come to the same conclusion:
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
there are more ways of killing
a cat than choking it with cream;
there’s more than one way to skin
a cat.

all things are possible with God: Nothing is impossible to the divine will; often used more generally to imply that anything might happen.

all words are pegs to hang ideas on:Words are simply tools for the formulation and communication of ideas.

always in a hurry, always behind: When you try to do things too quickly you work less efficiently and ultimately take longer.
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
more haste, less speed; haste makes waste.

all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy: People who do not make time for leisure activities risk damaging their health, the quality of their work, or their personal relationships; often used to justify a break from work or to persuade somebody to take one.

always something new out of Africa:Africa is an endless source of novelty and interest.

any port in a storm: In desperate circumstances people will accept help from any source, including those they would normally shun.

any publicity is good publicity: Even bad publicity draws attention to a person or product and may therefore serve a useful purpose.

another day, another dollar: However hard or tedious paid work may be, at least there is some financial reward; often said with relief at the end of the working day or, more generally, in the hope of a better day tomorrow.

an ape’s an ape, a varlet’s a varlet, though they be clad in silk or scarlet: The true nature of a person or thing may be hidden by outside appearance but cannot be changed.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
clothes don’t make the man.
Proverb expressing opposite meaning:
clothes make the man.

appetite comes with eating:
Desire or enthusiasm for something often increases as you do it:
Variant of this proverb: the appetite grows on what it feeds on.

the apple never falls far from the tree: Children resemble their parents in character and nature.
The proverb is also sometimes used with reference to children who choose to live close to their parents or their place of birth,
Variant of this proverb: an apple doesn’t roll far from the tree.
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
like father, like son; like mother,
like daughter.

April showers bring May flowers: Something unpleasant often leads to something more desirable.
Variant of this proverb: March winds and April showers always bring
May flowers.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
every cloud has a silver lining.

an army marches on its stomach:
You must eat well if you want to work effectively or achieve great things.

as a tree falls, so shall it lie: People should not attempt to change their beliefs or opinions just because they are about to die.

as good be an addled egg as an idle bird: Somebody who tries and fails has achieved no less than somebody who does nothing at all; used as a reprimand for idleness or inaction.

ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies: It is better not to ask questions that somebody is likely to be unwilling to answer truthfully; used in response to such a question or simply to discourage an inquisitive person.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
curiosity killed the cat

as Maine goes, so goes the nation:
The members of a large group will follow the lead of an infl uential part of the group.

as the day lengthens, so the cold strengthens:
The coldest part of the winter often occurs in the period following the shortest day, as the hours of daylight begin to grow longer.

as the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined:
A child’s early education and training are of great importance in determining the way he or she will grow up.
Proverb expressing opposite meaning:
nature passes nurture.

as you make your bed, so you must lie in it: You must put up with the unpleasant results of a foolish action or decision.

away goes the devil when he finds the door shut against him: Evil will never triumph if all temptations are rejected.

B

a bad excuse is better than none: It is better to give a poor or implausible excuse—which may, in fact, be believed—than to have no explanation or justification at all.

bad money drives out good: The existence or availability of something inferior or worthless—whether it be money,music, literature, or whatever—has a tendency to make things of better quality or greater value more scarce.

a bad penny always turns up: Undesirable people will always return; often used when somebody who has left in disgrace reappears after a long absence.

a bad workman quarrels with his tools: Workers who lack skill or competence blame their tools or equipment when things go wrong.

bear and forbear: Patience, tolerance,endurance, and forgiveness are valuable qualities in all walks of life.

beauty is in the eye of the beholder: The perception of beauty is subjective, and not everybody finds the same people or things attractive.

beauty draws with a single hair: A beautiful woman has great powers of attraction.

beauty is a good letter of introduction: Beautiful people make a better first impression on strangers than ugly people do.

beauty is only skin deep: Beauty is only a superficial quality, and may conceal an unpleasant character or nature.

beauty is but a blossom:
Good looks do not last.
Proverb expressing opposite meaning:
a thing of beauty is a joy forever.

beauty is truth, truth beauty: The qualities of beauty and truth are, or should be, inseparable and interlinked;often used when real life falls short of this ideal:

be just before you’re generous: You should make sure all your debts are paid and other obligations met before you start giving money away or living extravagantly.

a believer is a songless bird in a cage: Religious belief restricts a person’s freedom of action and expression.

believing has a core of unbelieving: Belief and unbelief are closely related, and sometimes you need to start from a position of skepticism to arrive at the truth.

the best art conceals art: Artistic excellence lies in making something that is subtle or intricate in construction appear simple and streamlined.

a bellowing cow soon forgets her calf: The loudest laments or complaints are often the first to subside; used specifically of those whose mourning seems excessive.

the best is the enemy of the good: By constantly striving for the best we risk destroying, or failing to produce, something good.

the best of men are but men at best: Even the greatest people have their failings and limitations.

the best things in life are free: The most rewarding or satisfying experiences in life are often those that cost nothing;also used of the wonders of nature or of abstract qualities such as health and friendship.

the best things come in small packages: Size has no bearing on quality, and a small container may hold something of great value; often said by or to a short person.

be the day weary or be the day long, at last it ringeth to evensong: No matter how tiring or stressful a day you are having,you can console yourself with the fact that it will eventually be over; also used more
generally to recommend perseverance or endurance in a trying situation.
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
it’s a long road that has no turning; the longest day must have an end.

better a good cow than a cow of a good : A person’s character is of more importance than his or her family background.

better a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big pond: It is better to have a position of importance in a small organization than to be an unimportant member of a large group.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
better be the head of a dog than the tail of a lion.

better a little fire to warm us than a big one to burn us: Sometimes it is more desirable to have only a small amount of something.

better a dinner of herbs where love is than a stalled ox where hate is: It is better to be poor or dine badly in a loving environment than to eat well or have a wealthy lifestyle in an atmosphere of discord or hatred.

better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know: It is often preferable to choose or stay with people or things you know, despite their faults, than to risk replacing them with somebody or something new but possibly less desirable.

better one house spoiled than two:
It is a good thing for two bad, foolish, or otherwise undesirable people to become husband and wife and thus avoid causing trouble in two separate marriages.

beware of an oak, it draws the stroke;avoid an ash, it counts the flash; creep under the thorn, it can save you from harm: It is dangerous to shelter from lightning under the oak, ash, or other trees.

beware of Greeks bearing gifts: It is wise to be suspicious of offers or friendly gestures made by enemies or opponents.

a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush: Something you have for certain now is of more value than better you may get, especially if you risk losing what you have in order to get it.

birds in their little nests agree; People who live or work together should try to do so in harmony; often used to stop children from arguing.

birth is much but breeding more: A person’s upbringing counts for more in the long run than the traits of character he or she was born with.

birds of a feather flock together: People tend to associate with those of similar character, interests, or opinions; often used with derogatory implications.

the biter is sometimes bit :Those who criticize or otherwise set about others are not immune from criticism or other attack themselves.

a bleating sheep loses a bite: Those who talk too much may miss an important opportunity.

a blind man’s wife needs no Paint : Attempts to improve the appearance of somebody or something are superfluous when it is the true nature of the person or thing that is of value, or when the improvements will not be appreciated.

blood is thicker than water: Bonds of loyalty and affection between members of the same family are much stronger than any other relationship.

blessings brighten as they take their flight: People often fail to appreciate the good things that they have until they lose them.

blood will have blood: One act of violence provokes another, by way of revenge: blood will tell Inherited characteristics—whether good or bad—cannot be hidden forever.

boys will be boys: Boys must be forgiven for their bad or boisterous behavior; also used ironically when grown men behave in an irresponsible or childish manner.

burn not your house to scare away the mice: Do not try to solve a minor problem by taking action that will cause much greater harm.

a bribe will enter without knocking: The use of money enables access where it would otherwise be denied.

the busiest men have the most leisure: People who are industrious by nature always seem to have the most spare time,either because they accomplish their work more quickly and efficiently or because they cram so much into their busy lives.

busy folks are always meddling: It is in the nature of busy people to interfere in the affairs of others.

C

Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion: Those in positions of importance—and their associates—must lead blameless lives and have spotless reputations.

call a spade a spade: Identify things by their real names; do not prevaricate about awkward truths; say what you mean.

calamity is the touchstone of a brave mind: It is at times of crisis that you find out who the truly strong, courageous, or great people are.

call a man a thief and he will steal: Give a person a bad reputation and he or she may start to justify it.

a cat can look at a king: Even the lowliest people have the right to look at, or show an interest in, those of higher status or prestige; often used by somebody accused of staring insolently.

care is no cure: Worrying about something does nothing to put it right.

catching’s before hanging: Offenders can only be punished when or if they are caught.

catch not at the shadow and lose the substance: Do not allow yourself to be distracted from your main purpose by irrelevancies.

a cat in gloves catches no mice: It is sometimes necessary to be bold or ruthless, or to do unpleasant things, in order to achieve one’s ends.

a chain is no stronger than its weakest link:
A weak part or member will affect the success or effectiveness of the whole.

the cat would eat fish, but would not wet her feet: You must be prepared to put up with personal inconvenience, discomfort,or risk in order to get what you want;often used when somebody is hesitant about doing something for this reason.

a change is as good as a rest: Doing something different for a time can be just as refreshing as taking a break from work; also used more generally of any change in routine.

charity is not a bone you throw to a dog but a bone you share with a dog:
There should be more to charity than simply giving money or other material goods—it is better to establish a relationship with those in need and to work with them for the benefit of all concerned.

children and fools speak the truth: Children and foolish people have a tendency to say what is true, because they have not learned that it may be advantageous or diplomatic to do otherwise.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
give me a child for the first seven years and he is mine for life.

the child is father of the man: A child’s character is an indication of the type of adult he or she will become—human nature does not change from youth to maturity.

children are certain cares, but uncertain comforts: Children are bound to cause their parents anxiety, and may or may not also bring them joy.

circumstances alter cases: The same general principle cannot be applied to every individual case, and what is right,good, or appropriate in one set of circumstances may be wrong in another.

Christmas comes but once a year: Extravagance and self-indulgence at Christmas—or any other annual celebration—can be justified by the fact that it is a relatively infrequent occurrence.

the clock goes as it pleases the clerk: It is up to civil servants and other bureaucrats how time is governed and spent.

coming events cast their shadows before: Future events, especially those of some significance, can often be predicted from the warning signs that precede them.

common fame is seldom to blame: Rumors are rarely without substance, and if unpleasant things are being said about somebody, then that person has probably done something to deserve them.
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
there’s no smoke without fire; what everybody says must be true.

confess and be hanged: There is little incentive for confession when punishment is the inevitable result; used as justification for not owning up to wrongdoing.

the company makes the feast: You will enjoy a meal or celebration far more if you are among cheerful friendly people,and the quality of the food and drink—or of the surroundings—is of lesser importance.

conscience gets a lot of credit that belongs to cold feet :Something commended as an act of conscience may be simply due to cowardice or loss of nerve.

councils of war never fight: When a number of people get together to discuss something important, they rarely decide on a drastic course of action.

courage is fear that has said its prayers: A brave person is not necessarily fearless, but has drawn strength from religion or some other source.

courtesy is contagious: If you are polite to other people, then they will be polite to you.

the cowl does not make the monk: Do not judge a person’s character by his or her outward appearance or behavior.

a creaking door hangs longest: Those who have many minor ailments and infirmities often outlive those who don’t.

cream always comes to the top: People of great worth or quality will ultimately enjoy high achievement or public recognition.

crosses are ladders that lead to heaven: Suffering and misfortune often bring out the best in a person’s character.

crime doesn’t pay: Criminal activity may seem to be profitable, at least in the short term, but it ultimately leads to far greater loss—of liberty, or even of life;used as a deterrent slogan.

cross the stream where it is shallowest :Always take the easiest possible approach to doing something.

crime must be concealed by crime: One crime often leads to another, committed to avoid detection of the first.

curses, like chickens, come home to roost: Wrongdoers ultimately have to suffer the consequences of their bad deeds;also used when those who have wished evil on others are struck by misfortune themselves.

cut your coat according to your cloth: Match your actions to your resources, and do not try to live beyond your means.

D

the danger past and God forgotten: People are prone to calling on God in times of trouble, only to forget all about their newly found religious faith as soon as the crisis is past.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
man’s extremity is god’s opportunity

dead men don’t bite: A dead person can no longer do others any harm; often used to justify murder.

dead men tell no tales: It may be expedient to kill somebody who could betray a secret or give information about the criminal activities of others.

death is the great leveler: People of all ranks and classes are equal in death, and nobody is exempt from dying.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
equality begins in the grave.

desert and reward seldom keep company :People are often not rewarded for their good deeds or meritorious behavior; conversely, those who do receive rewards have often done nothing to deserve them.

desperate diseases must have desperate remedies: Drastic action is called for— and justified—when you find yourself in a particularly difficult situation.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
killing no murder.

the devil dances in an empty pocket :The poor are easily tempted to do evil.

the devil finds work for idle hands to do:Idle people may find themselves tempted into wrongdoing.

the devil looks after his own: Bad or undeserving people often prosper and thrive; said in response to the success or good fortune of such a person.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
the devil’s children have the devil’s luck.Bad people often have good luck;usually said with envy rather than malice on hearing of somebody’s good fortune:

the devil is in the details; The details of something are of paramount importance, and you should always examine or pay attention to them in any proposition you are considering or any project you undertake.

the devil is not as black as he is painted:
People are rarely as bad as others say they are; often used in defense of a specific person.

the devil was sick, the devil a saint would be; the devil was well, the devil a saint was he: People often turn to religion or promise to reform when they are ill or in trouble, only to revert to their former ways as soon as the crisis is over.

the difficult is done at once, the impossible takes a little longer: Difficult tasks present no problem, and even those that seem impossible will ultimately be accomplished; used as a motto or policy statement, as in commerce.

diamond cuts diamond: The only match for a very sharp-witted or cunning person is somebody of equally sharp wit or great cunning.

discretion is the better part of valor:
It is often wiser to avoid taking an unnecessary risk than to be recklessly courageous.

do as I say, not as I do:
Do what somebody tells or advises you to do rather than what that person actually does himself or herself.
Proverbs expressing opposite meaning:
example is better than precept; a good example is the best sermon.

the dog always returns to his vomit: People always return to the scene of their crime or wrongdoing.

the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on; The warnings or protests of those in lowly positions are often ignored by those in power and are not allowed to stand in the way of progress.

a dog that will fetch a bone will carry a bone:
Beware of people who bring you gossip about others, because they are equally likely to pass on gossip about you.

don’t bite the hand that feeds you: do not behave unkindly or ungratefully toward those on whom you depend for financial or other support.

don’t cry before you’re hurt :There is no point in upsetting yourself about something bad that may or may not happen.

don’t cut off your nose to spite your face:
Do not take action to spite others that will harm you more than them.

don’t get mad, get even :Take positive action to retaliate for a wrong that has been done to you, rather than wasting your time and energy in angry recriminations.

don’t hide your light under a bushel: If you have special skills or talents, do not conceal them through modesty and prevent others from appreciating or benefiting from them.

don’t let the fox guard the hen house: Do not put somebody in a position where he or she will be tempted to wrongdoing.

don’t overload gratitude; if you do, she’ll kick: When people are grateful to you, do not take excessive advantage of the situation, because any sense of obligation has its limits.

don’t put the cart before the horse: It is important to do things in the right or natural order; also used when people confuse cause and effect:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
first things first.

don’t shout until you are out of the woods :Avoid any show of triumph or relief until you are sure that a period of difficulty or danger is over.

don’t take down a fence unless you are sure why it was put up: Most things were constructed or established for a purpose, and it is unwise to destroy or dismantle them unless you are certain that they are not longer required.

don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk: Don’t boast of something if you are unwilling or unable to back it up by your actions.

don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs: Do not presume to give advice or instruction to those who are older and more experienced than you.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
they that live longest see most.

don’t wash your dirty linen in public:
Do not discuss private disputes or family scandals in public.

don’t wish too hard; you might just get what you wished for: Beware of wishing for something too much, because you might not like it when you get it.

don’t throw good money after bad: If you have already spent money on a venture that seems likely to fail, do not waste any further money on it.

don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater: Do not take the drastic step of abolishing or discarding something in its entirety when only part of it is unacceptable.

a dose of adversity is often as needful as a dose of medicine: Hardship and misfortune may be unpleasant, but they can sometimes have a beneficial effect on the character, especially when people fail to appreciate the good things they have.

dream of a funeral and you hear of a marriage: According to popular superstition, if you dream about a funeral you will shortly receive news that somebody of your acquaintance is to be married:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
dreams go by contraries.

a dripping June sets all in tune: A rainy June means there will be a good harvest of crops and flowers later in the summer:

drive gently over the stones: Take a cautious and delicate approach to any problems or difficulties you encounter in life.

a dwarf on a giant’s shoulders sees further of the two: Those who build on the breakthroughs of their predecessors surpass their achievements.


E

easy come, easy go: Things that are easily acquired, especially money, are just as easily lost or spent.

East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet: People who are very different in background or outlook are likely never to agree.

an empty sack cannot stand upright: People who are poor or hungry cannot survive, work effectively, or remain honest.

education doesn’t come by bumping your head against the schoolhouse: Education can only be acquired by studying, and by listening and talking to teachers.

empty vessels make the most sound: Foolish people are the most talkative; often used as a put-down to somebody who chatters incessantly.

the end justifies the means: Any course of action, however immoral or unscrupulous, is justifiable if it achieves a worthy objective.

enough is as good as a feast: A moderate amount is sufficient; often said by somebody who does not want any more.

even a worm will turn: Even the most humble or submissive person will ultimately respond in anger to excessive harassment or exploitation.

everybody has his fifteen minutes of fame: Most people will find themselves briefly in the public eye at least once in their lives.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
every dog has his day.

even a blind pig occasionally picks up an acorn: An incompetent person or an unsystematic approach is bound to succeed every now and then by chance.

everybody’s business is nobody’s business: Matters that are of general concern,but are the responsibility of nobody in particular, tend to get neglected because everybody thinks that somebody else should deal with them.

everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it : People are always ready to complain about a problem but never willing to solve it.

everybody to whom much is given, of him will much be required: More is expected of those who have received more—that is, those who have had good fortune, are naturally gifted, or have been shown special favor.

everybody’s queer but you and me, and even you are a little queer: There are times when it seems that you are the only normal or sane person in the world.

every bullet has its billet: In a life threatening situation, destiny decides who will die and who will survive.

every dog is allowed one bite: Somebody may be forgiven for a single misdemeanor, provided that it does not happen again

every herring must hang by its own gill; Everybody must take responsibility for his or her own actions.

every horse thinks its own pack heaviest: Everybody thinks that he or she has harder work, greater misfortune, or more problems than others.

every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence :People in a hierarchical organization are promoted until they reach a position that is just beyond their capabilities; this cynical observation implies that nobody is fit to do the work he or she is employed to do.

every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost : In highly competitive or dangerous situations, you must guard or pursue your own interests with ruthless disregard for those who are falling behind or struggling to cope.

every man after his fashion; Every individual must follow his or her own inclination.

every man must skin his own skunk: People should be self-reliant and not depend on others to do things—especially unpleasant tasks—for them.

every man thinks his own geese swans: Everybody tends to rate his or her own children, possessions, or achievements more highly than others would do.

every picture tells a story: Meaning is often conveyed by people’s actions,
movements, gestures, or facial expressions without the need for words.

every soldier has the baton of a field marshal in his knapsack :A common soldier, or any other worker, may aspire to senior rank.

every tub must stand on its own bottom: People should be self-sufficient and not dependent on others, financially or otherwise.

evil communications corrupt good manners:
Good people can be led astray by listening to bad ideas, associating with bad people, or following a bad example.

the exception proves the rule: The existence of an exception to a rule shows that the rule itself exists and is applicable in other cases; often used loosely to explain away any such inconsistency.

evil doers are evil dreaders: Criminals and other wrongdoers have a tendency to fear and suspect all those around them; sometimes used to imply that a distrustful person has something on his or her conscience.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
do right and fear no man.

extremes meet: People and things that seem to be diametrically opposed are often found to have a point of contact.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
opposites attract.

experience is the teacher of fools; It is foolish to learn—or to expect other people to learn—solely by making mistakes; also used with the implication that wise people learn from others’ mistakes rather than their own.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
learn from the mistakes of others.
Proverb expressing opposite meaning:
experience is the best teacher.

F


fact is stranger than fiction: Things that happen in real life are often far more unlikely than those dreamed up by writers.

fancy passes beauty: It is more important that a potential partner is likeable than good-looking.

fear lends wings: Fear inspires extra speed in those attempting to escape whatever threatens them.

a fat kitchen makes a lean will: Those who eat well all their lives will have little money left when they die.

feed a cold and starve a fever :You should eat well when you have a cold but fast when you have a fever:

the female of the species is deadlier than the male:
Women often prove to be more dangerous than men, when roused to anger.

fields have eyes and woods have ears: There are very few places where you can do or say something without the risk of being seen or overheard.

fine words butter no parsnips: Promises or compliments are pleasant to hear but serve no practical purpose unless they are backed up by action.

first catch your hare: Do not act in anticipation of something that is yet to be achieved.

the first hundred years are the hardest: Life will always be difficult; said jocularly or ironically to those who complain about their problems, sometimes with the implication that things will improve eventually.

fish or cut bait :The time has come to choose between two courses of action—either get on with what you have to do, or go away and let somebody else do it:.

first try and then trust: Before relying upon something (or someone), it is best to test it first.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
trust not one night’s ice.

a fish stinks from the head :A corrupting influence often spreads from a leader to the rest of the organization or group.

food without hospitality is medicine: It is hard to enjoy refreshments that are offered with ill grace, or without friendly companionship.

flattery, like perfume, should be smelled but not swallowed: There is no harm in taking pleasure from flattery, but do not make the mistake of believing it.

a fool at forty is a fool indeed: People who have not gained the wisdom of experience by the time they reach middle age are likely to remain fools for the rest of their lives:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
there’s no fool like an old fool.

a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds: A lack of flexibility in making judgments is regarded as a sign of petty narrow-mindedness.

fools and children should never see half done work: You should not judge the quality of a piece of work until it is complete, because it often appears unpromising in its unfinished form; sometimes said in response to criticism, or as a reason for not letting such work be seen.

a fool may give a wise man counsel:
People are often able to give good advice to those who are considered to be intellectually superior; sometimes said apologetically by the giver of such advice, or used as a warning against disregarding it.

a fool’s bolt is soon shot: Foolish people act hastily and thus waste their efforts.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
hasty climbers have sudden falls.

footprints on the sands of time are not made by sitting down: People who idle their lives away will not make a lasting impression on history or be remembered for their great achievements; used as a spur to action and industry.

fools build houses and wise men live in them: The cost of building property is such that those who build houses cannot afford to live in them, and have to sell them to recoup their losses; also applied to other things that are expensive to produce

forbidden fruit is sweet :Things that you must not have or do are always the most desirable.

for want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, and for want of a horse the rider was lost: Do not neglect minor details that seem insignificant in themselves.

four eyes see more than two: Two people keeping watch, supervising, or searching have a better chance of noticing or finding something.


from the sweetest wine, the tartest vinegar: Great love may turn to the intense hatred; also used of other changes of feeling or nature from one extreme to the other.

G

garbage in, garbage out: A person or machine provided with inferior source material, faulty instructions, or erroneous information can produce only poor-quality work or rubbish.

the game is not worth the candle: It is not worth persisting in an enterprise that is unlikely to yield enough profit or benefit to compensate for the effort or expense involved, or that carries a risk, actual harm or loss.

gather ye rosebuds while ye may: Live life to the full while you are still young enough to enjoy it.

genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains: What appears to be a product of superior intellectual power is often simply the result of great assiduity and meticulous attention to detail.

give a beggar a horse and he’ll ride it to death: People who suddenly acquire wealth or power are likely to misuse it.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
set a beggar on horseback, and he’ll ride to the devil.

give a loaf and beg a slice: People who are too generous risk having to beg themselves.

give and take is fair play: Exchanging like for like—whether it be a blow, an insult, a favor, or a pardon—is a fair and legitimate way to proceed.

give a man an inch and he’ll take a mile: People are inclined to take excessive advantage of the tolerance or generosity of others; often used to warn against making even the smallest concession.

give a thing, and take a thing, to wear the devil’s gold ring: It is wrong to take back a gift.

give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself:
People who are given complete freedom of action will ultimately bring about their own downfall, for example by inadvertently revealing their guilt.

go abroad and you’ll hear news of home :People often remain ignorant of matters concerning their family and friends, or events in their own neighborhood,until they go traveling, when they hear about them at second hand.

give the devil his due: People deserve recognition for their skills and contributions even if they are otherwise unworthy or unlikable.

God made the country and man made the town :The urban environment, constructed by human hands, is inferior to the natural countryside, which is the work of divine creation.

God never sends mouths but he sends meat:
God can be relied upon to provide for everybody.

God sends meat, but the devil sends cooks :Good food can be ruined by a bad cook.

God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb: Weak or vulnerable people have divine protection from the worst misfortunes; also used when such people are treated with compassion by their fellow human beings.

the gods send nuts to those who have no teeth: Opportunities or good fortune often come too late in life for people to enjoy them or take full advantage of them; also applied more generally to people of any age who are unable to use or benefit from good things that come their way.

go farther and fare worse: If you reject something acceptable in the hope of finding something better, you may end up having to settle for something worse.

the golden age was never the present age:The past and the future always seem infinitely preferable to the present time.

a golden key can open any door:
With money you can gain access to anything you want; used specifically of bribery, or more generally of the power and influence of wealth.

gold may be bought too dear: Wealth is not worth having if there is too great a risk or sacrifice involved in acquiring it.

a good face is a letter of recommendation: An honest demeanor may be interpreted as a sign of a person’s integrity.

good fences make good neighbors: A good relationship between neighbors depends on each respecting the other’s privacy and not entering his or her property uninvited; also used more broadly of international relations and the need to maintain trade barriers and border controls.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
a hedge between keeps friendship green.

a good dog deserves a good bone: A loyal servant or employee deserves his reward.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
the laborer is worthy of his hire.

a good horse cannot be of a bad color :Superficial appearances do not affect the essential worth of something.
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
appearances are deceiving; judge not according to appearances.

a good Jack makes a good Jill: People who live or work together should set a good example to each other—a good husband will have a good wife, a good master will have a good servant, and so on.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
a good husband makes a good wife.

a good name is better than precious ointment:
Your good name should be your most cherished possession.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
a good reputation is more valuable than money.

a good tale is not the worse for being told twice:
There is no harm in telling a good joke or anecdote—or a story with a moral—a second time; often used by way of apology or justification for such repetition.

good riddance to bad rubbish: We are better off without worthless people or things; usually said on the departure of such a person or the loss of such a thing.

gossip is the lifeblood of society: Social intercourse thrives on gossip—if people stopped talking about each other they might stop talking to each other.

good wine needs no bush:
A good product does not need advertising.

grace will last, beauty will blast: A good character will outlive superficial physical attractiveness.

a goose quill is more dangerous than a lion’s claw: Written words of criticism or defamation can do more harm or cause more pain than a physical attack.

a great city, a great solitude: People often feel more lonely in a large city, among thousands of strangers, than they would do if they were actually alone.

the gray mare is the better horse: A woman is often more competent or powerful than a man; used specifically of wives who have the upper hand over their husbands.

the greater the truth, the greater the libel: Some people will take greater offense at a true accusation of wrongdoing than at a false one.

great men have great faults: Remarkable people tend to have serious character flaws.

a great book is a great evil: A long book is a bad book—good writers know how to express themselves concisely.

great trees keep down little ones: The predominance of a particular person, company, nation, etc., results in lesser rivals being kept in the shade.

a growing youth has a wolf in his stomach: Adolescent boys are perpetually hungry.

H

half the truth is often a whole lie: Not telling the whole truth, or saying something that is only partly true, is tantamount to lying.

happy is the bride that the sun shines on: According to popular superstition, a woman who has a sunny wedding day will have a happy marriage.

the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world: Mothers have a powerful influence— if indirectly—on world affairs,because it is they who mold the characters of future leaders.

hanging and wiving go by destiny :Some people are fated to marry each other, just as some are fated to be hanged.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
marriages are made in heaven.

happy is the country that has no history: It is a happy or fortunate country that has no unpleasant events worth recording in its past.

hard cases make bad law: Cases that are complex or difficult to decide often cause the true meaning of the law to be distorted or obscured and sometimes lead to what is perceived as a miscarriage of justice.

hard words break no bones: Adverse criticism or verbal abuse may be unpleasant, but it does no physical harm.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
sticks and stones may break my bones,but words will never hurt me.
Proverb expressing opposite meaning:
the tongue is not steel, but it cuts.

hawks will not pick out hawks’ eyes: People who belong to the same group will not—or should not—harm one another.
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
dog does not eat dog; there’s honor among thieves.

hear all, see all, say nowt: It is sometimes prudent to listen and watch carefully, but say nothing.

heads I win, tails you lose: In some situations it is impossible for one person not to be a winner—or impossible for another person not to be a loser—whatever the outcome.

he gives twice who gives quickly: A prompt response to a request for something,such as money or help, is of greater value than a more generous offering given late.

a heavy purse makes a light heart: Those who have plenty of money are happy and carefree.

he comes too early who brings bad news: People are never in a hurry to hear bad news.

hell hath no fury like a woman scorned: A woman who is rejected by the man she loves has an immense capacity for ferocious or malicious revenge.

he that complies against his will is of his own opinion still: By forcing somebody to do something, or to admit that something is true, you have not actually succeeded in changing that person’s mind.

help you to salt, help you to sorrow :According to popular superstition, it is unlucky to add salt to another person’s food at table.

he that has a full purse never wanted a friend: Wealthy people never lack friends—or those who claim to be their friends until their money runs out.
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
a rich man’s joke is always funny;wealth makes many friends.

he that is down need fear no fall; Those in lowly positions, or who have already fallen from lofty positions, have no need to worry about failure.

he that is too secure is not safe: Beware of complacency—you must remain alert and watchful if you want to avoid danger:

he that lives in hope dances to an ill tune: It is unwise to let your future happiness or well-being depend on expectations that may not be realized.

he that will not when he may, when he will he may have nay: Take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself, even if you do not want or need it at the time, because it may no longer be available when you do.

he that lives on hope will die fasting: do not pin all your hopes on something you may not attain, because you could end up with nothing.

he that will thrive must first ask his wife: A married man’s financial situation, his success or failure in business, and the like often depend on the behavior and disposition of his wife.

he that touches pitch shall be defiled: If you get involved with wicked people or illegal activities, you cannot avoid becoming corrupted yourself.

he that would go to sea for pleasure would go to hell for a pastime:
A sailor’s life can be so unpleasant and dangerous, it seems that those who choose spend their leisure hours at sea must be either masochistic or insane.

he that would hang his dog gives out first that he is mad: Those who are planning some action that might attract criticism first seek to justify it in advance.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
give a dog a bad name and hang him.

he that would have eggs must endure the cackling of hens: You must be prepared to put up with something unpleasant or annoying in order to get what you want; also used of an undesirable aspect or drawback that accompanies something.

he who fights and runs away may live to fight another day: It is wiser to withdraw from a situation that you cannot win than to go on fighting and lose—by a strategic retreat you can return to the battle or argument with renewed energy at a later date.

he who laughs last, laughs longest: Minor successes or failures along the way are of no significance—the person who is ultimately triumphant is the only real winner; often used when somebody turns the tables with a final act of retaliation.

he who sups with the devil should have a long spoon:
Those who have dealings with wicked, dangerous, or dishonest people should remain on their guard and try not to become too intimately involved.

he who pays the piper calls the tune: The person who pays for a service or finances a project has the right to say how it should be done.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
whose bread i eat, his song i sing.

he who wills the end, wills the means: Those who are determined to achieve something are equally determined to find a way of achieving it.

he who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount: When you are in a dangerous situation, or have embarked on a dangerous course of action, it is often safer to continue than to try to stop or withdraw.

he who would write and can’t write can surely review: People who become critics are those who lack the talent to be novelists, dramatists, or other kinds of artists in their own right; used in response to a bad review.

the highest branch is not the safest roost: Those in the highest positions of power or authority are, in some respects, the most vulnerable, because there will always be plenty of others eager to take their place or cause their downfall.
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
the post of honor is the post of danger; uneasy lies the head that
wears a crown.
Proverb expressing opposite meaning:
better be first in a village than second at rome.

the higher the monkey climbs the more he shows his tail: People’s faults and shortcomings become increasingly obvious as they advance to positions of high office.

history is a fable agreed upon:
History represents the traditionally accepted interpretation of what actually happened in the past.

history repeats itself: Similar events tend to recur in different periods of history— for example, when rulers or governments fail to learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before; also used when some more trivial or personal incident recurs.

the hole calls the thief: Criminals and other wrong-doers will go where opportunity presents itself.

home is home, be it ever so homely: However simple or lowly a person’s abode may be, it is still his or her home and therefore the best place to be.

hitch your wagon to a star: You must be ambitious, and aim to achieve the highest possible goal; also used as advice to cultivate the acquaintance of powerful, successful, or influential people who can help to advance your interests.

honest men marry quickly, wise men not at all: Honest men marry without hesitation, seeing no threat in a wife, but wise men know better.

Homer sometimes nods: Even the greatest minds have lapses of attention, leading to mistakes; often used as an excuse for error:

honors change manners :People who improve their status in society all too often become arrogant.

horses for courses: Different people have different strengths and talents, and each person should be assigned to the task or job that is best suited to that particular individual.

hope is a good breakfast but a bad supper: There is no harm in being optimistic at the beginning of something, but beware of being left with nothing but unrealized expectations at the end.

hope springs eternal in the human breast:
It is human nature to remain optimistic— even after a setback, or despite evidence to the contrary.

an hour in the morning is worth two in the evening: People are at their most efficient early in the day, when they are refreshed by sleep.

a horse can’t pull while kicking: People engaged in acts of insubordination or protest cannot work efficiently or productively.

hunger drives the wolf out of the wood :
People in dire need are forced to do things that would be unwise or undesirable in other circumstances.

hunger is the best sauce: Hunger makes all food taste good, regardless of its quality or the way it is served.

the house shows the owner: A person’s character is revealed by the state of his or her house.

a house without books is like a room without windows: Books brighten and enlighten our daily lives in the same way that windows brighten and illuminate a room.

humble hearts have humble desires: People with timid characters tend to have modest ambitions.

a hungry stomach has no ears: There is no point in talking to or reasoning with hungry people, or those who are greedily devouring their food.

hurry no man’s cattle: Do not try to make others hurry or rush because you are impatient.

I

if and an spoils many a good charter: Excellent plans may be doomed to failure because of the conditions that come with them.

if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck :It is usually safe to identify somebody as a particular type of person when his or her appearance, behavior, and words all point to the same conclusion.

if one sheep leaps over the ditch, all the rest will follow :Where one person sets an example by doing something risky or dangerous others are likely to follow.

if two ride on a horse, one must ride behind: When two people undertake a joint activity or enterprise, one of them invariably takes the lead and the other has to be content with a more subordinate role; also used of a fight argument, where only one can win and the other must lose or surrender.

if the shoe fits, wear it: If it seems that a critical remark applies to you, then you must accept it; often said when somebody’s response to a general remark suggests that it is appropriate to that particular person.

if the sky falls, we shall catch larks: Do not make plans based on things that cannot possibly happen.
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
if a pig had wings, it might fly; if ifs and ans were pots and pans, there’d be no work for tinkers; if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

if wishes were horses, beggars would ride :There is no point in indulging in wishful thinking.

if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay under the porch: If you lack the strength, courage, skill, or experience to compete with the major players—in politics, business, or any other field—then it is better not to try at all.

if you can’t bite, never show your teeth: Do not make empty threats; also used to warn against making a show of aggression when you unable to defend yourself.

if you don’t like it, you can lump it :Whether or not you like what is offered or approve of what is proposed, you will have to put up with it.

if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys:
Competent and highly qualified people will not work for derisory fees or wages.

if you’ve got it, flaunt it:
Those who have wealth, beauty, or talent should not be ashamed to show it off; used as an excuse for ostentation.

if you want peace, prepare for war :A nation that is seen to be ready and able to defend itself—for example, with strong armed forces and powerful weapons—is less likely to be attacked.

ignorance is a voluntary misfortune: Everybody has the opportunity to acquire knowledge, so you have only yourself to blame if you remain ignorant.

ill weeds grow apace: Worthless people or evil things have a tendency to flourish where better ones fail.

in for a penny, in for a pound: Once you have committed yourself to something, you might as well do it wholeheartedly and see it through to the end.

in politics a man must learn to rise above principle: A successful politician cannot afford to have too many scruples; a cynical observation.

in war there is no substitute for victory: A war is only truly won by total defeat of the enemy, not by diplomatic negotiations or compromise.

it never rains but it pours: One setback, misfortune, or other undesirable occurrence is inevitably followed by many more; also occasionally used of pleasant things, such as a run of good luck.

it’s a foolish sheep that makes the wolf his confessor : Do not confide in somebody unless you are certain that he or she can be trusted.

it’s all in a day’s work: Unpleasant things have to be accepted as part of the daily routine; also used to play down a major achievement or a heroic act by implying that it is just part of your job.

it’s an ill bird that fouls its own nest: You should not say or do anything that will bring discredit or harm to your own family or country.

it’s a poor dog that’s not worth whistling for: Everybody has some value, or some redeeming feature.

it’s better to be happy than wise: Happiness is more important than wisdom, knowledge, or learning.

it’s better to be right than in the majority; Do not follow or side with the majority, just for the sake of conformity, if you believe them to be wrong.

it’s better to lose the battle and win the war: It is sometimes prudent or expedient to concede a minor point in an argument or dispute in order to gain the overall victory.

it’s easy to find a stick to beat a dog: It is easy to find some reason or excuse to justify a critical attack or a harsh punishment.

it’s dogged as does it: Anything can be done with determination and perseverance.

it’s good to make a bridge of gold to a flying enemy: Retreating enemies will kill or destroy anybody or anything that stands in their way, so it is advisable to give them free passage.

it’s ill speaking between a full man and a fasting: Hungry people are not on the best of terms with those who have eaten their fill.

it’s idle to swallow the cow and choke on the tail: Once you have completed the major part of an enterprise or undertaking, it is foolish not to see it through to the end.

it’s ill waiting for dead men’s shoes: It is not good to be impatiently awaiting somebody’s death or retirement to get what you want, such as an inheritance or promotion.

it’s ill jesting with edged tools: Do not trifle with dangerous things or people.

it’s ill sitting at Rome and striving with the Pope: It is foolish or pointless to quarrel or fight with somebody who has supreme power in the place where you are.

it’s not the end of the world: Things are not as disastrous as they seem; said in recurrence, such as after a minor mishap.

it’s the last straw that breaks the camel’s back: When somebody is close to his or her limit of patience or endurance, it takes only one little extra thing to make the whole load too much to bear.

it takes a village to raise a child: The whole community plays a part in the upbringing of the children that live there.

it takes one to know one: Only those with similar flaws are capable of spotting them in others.

it takes two to tango: In a situation involving cooperation or joint action, both participants must work together and share the responsibility for what happens.

J

a jackass can kick a barn door down, but it takes a carpenter to build one: Something that has taken time, skill, and effort to put together can be quickly ruined or destroyed by a foolish person.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
it’s easier to tear down than to build up.

jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today:
Good times always seem to belong to the past or to the future, but never to the present.

a jack of all trades is master of none: Somebody who has a very wide range of abilities or skills usually does not excel at any of them.

jesters do oft prove prophets: A prediction made in jest often comes true.


Jove but laughs at lovers’ perjury: The breaking of oaths and promises made by lovers is so commonplace that it is not regarded as a serious matter:

justice is blind: Justice must be dispensed with objectivity and without regard to irrelevant details or circumstances.

K

keep a thing seven years and you’ll find a use for it: An object that seems useless now may be just what you need at some future time, so do not discard it.

keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterward :You should choose your husband or wife with care, but be prepared to overlook his or her faults after the wedding day.

killing no murder: Sometimes circumstances make extreme actions forgivable.

kings have long arms: Few people, places, or things are beyond the reach of those in authority, and it is not easy for an offender to escape capture or punishment.

kissing goes by favor: People often bestow honors and privileges on those they like, rather than on those who are most worthy of them.

the king can do no wrong: People in authority are not bound by the rules and regulations that apply to others; specifically, a monarch is above the law.

knowledge and timber shouldn’t be much used until they are seasoned: Knowledge is not useful until it is tempered by experience.

L

the laborer is worthy of his hire: Those who work for others are entitled to be paid for their efforts.

the last drop makes the cup run over: One final additional thing may push a person beyond his or her limit of tolerance or endurance.

late children, early orphans: Children to older parents run a greater risk of being orphaned before they reach adulthood

least said, soonest mended :The less you say, the less likely you are to cause trouble; often used to discourage somebody from complaining, apologizing, arguing, or making excuses.

lend your money and lose your friend: You risk losing your friends by lending them money, either because they fail to repay the loan or because they resent being asked to repay it.

length begets loathing: Nobody likes a long-winded speaker or writer.

leave well enough alone: Do not try to change or improve something that is satisfactory as it stands.

less is more: A work of art, piece of writing, or other creative endeavor can be made more elegant or effective by reducing ornamentation and avoiding excess.

let the cobbler stick to his last: People should not offer advice, make criticisms, or otherwise interfere in matters outside their own area of knowledge or expertise.

let them laugh that win : Do not rejoice until you are certain of victory or success.

let your head save your heels: You can avoid wasted journeys on foot by careful planning or forethought, such as by combining errands.

let the dead bury the dead: Do not concern yourself with things that are past and gone.

a lie can go around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots: False rumors travel with alarming speed.

a liar is worse than a thief: People who lie are even less trustworthy than people who thieve.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
show me a liar and i will show you
a thief.

life is hard by the yard, but by the inch life’s a cinch:
Life is less overwhelming if you take it one step at a time.

liberty is not licence [license]: Freedom does not mean that a person can whatever he or she wants.

light gains make heavy purses: It is possible to become rich by making small profits.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.

lightning never strikes twice in the same place: The same unpleasant or unexpected phenomenon will not recur in the same place or circumstances, or happen to the same person again; a superstition that often leads to a false sense of security.

like people, like priest: The quality of a spiritual leader can be judged by the behavior of his or her followers.

the lion is not so fierce as he is painted: Some people have reputations that far exceed their real characters.

listeners never hear any good of themselves: People: who eavesdrop on the conversations of others risk hearing unfavorable comments about themselves; used as a warning or reprimand.

a little absence does much good: A short period of absence can have a surprisingly beneficial effect.

little birds that can sing and won’t sing must be made to sing: Those who refuse to tell what they know must be forced to do so; also interpreted more literally.

little fish are sweet: The smallest things are sometimes the most desirable or acceptable; used specifically of something received, bought, or otherwise acquired.

a little pot is soon hot: Small people are reputed to be more easily angered than others.

little strokes fell great oaks: Great things can be achieved in small stages, or with persistent effort.

little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape: It is often the case that petty criminals are brought to justice, while those involved in more serious crimes succeed in evading capture and punishment.

little pitchers have big ears: Children miss little of what is said in their hearing; often used as a warning.

little things please little minds: Foolish people are easily pleased; said contemptuously to or of somebody who is amused by something childish or trivial.

the longest way around is the shortest way home: It is best to do things carefully and thoroughly rather than trying to cut corners.

long foretold, long last; short notice, soon past :A change in the weather that is predicted well in advance lasts longer than one that arrives with little warning.

lookers-on see most of the game: An objective observer with an overall view of a situation is often more knowledgeable, or better placed to make a judgment, than somebody who is actively involved, and whose attention is therefore focused on individual details.

lose an hour in the morning, chase it all day: Time lost in the morning is impossible to make up later in the day.

love is free: People tend to fall in love regardless of the suitability of the match or other obstacles.

love laughs at locksmiths: Nothing and nobody can keep lovers apart.

love me, love my dog:
If you love somebody, you must be prepared to accept or tolerate everything and everybody connected with that person—his or her failings, idiosyncrasies, friends, relatives, and so on.

love your enemy, but don’t put a gun in his hand: Treat your enemies with respect and humanity, but also with caution— do not give them the opportunity to repay your kindness with an act of aggression.

love me little, love me long: Warm affection lasts longer than burning passion.

M

make a virtue of necessity: The best way to handle an undesirable situation is to turn it to your advantage.

make haste slowly: Do not rush—you will achieve your end more quickly if you proceed with care.

a man can only die once: Death can only happen once in a lifetime.

a man is a lion in his own cause: People tend to exceed expectations when they have a personal interest in something.

man is the measure of all things: Human beings are capable of rising to any challenge:

a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do: You must do what needs to be done, or what you feel ought to be done, however unpleasant it may be; sometimes used facetiously.

a man’s home is his castle: People have the right to privacy and freedom of action in their own home.

a man’s word is as good as his bond Honorable people do not break their promises:

a man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle: Self-centeredness is not a quality that is associated with greatness.

the man who is born in a stable is not a horse A person does not necessarily have the stereotypical characteristics of the place where he or she was born.

many a little makes a mickle: Small amounts accumulate to form a large quantity; often used of small sums of money saved over a long period.

a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client: It is not wise to act as your own attorney in a court of law, or in some other legal process; also used in other fields of activity requiring professional expertise or objectivity.

many are called, but few are chosen :Not everybody who wants to do something is selected or permitted to do it; used in any elitist situation.

many a true word is spoken in jest: Something said jokingly often proves to be true.

many kiss the hand they wish to see cut off; A person’s true feelings or intentions may be concealed by the mask of politeness or hypocrisy; used to warn against being deceived by such a show.

many go out for wool and come home shorn: Many people who set out to make their fortune, or to achieve some other aim, end up in a worse state than before.

marriage is a lottery Whether a marriage succeeds or fails is all a matter of luck; also applied to the choice of a marriage partner.

May chickens come cheeping: Children born in the month of May are weak and delicate.

meat and mass never hindered man You can always find time to eat and to go to church; said to somebody who claims to be too busy, or in too much of a hurry, for one or both of these.

marry in haste, repent at leisure ;Those who rush into marriage, and subsequently discover that they have made a mistake,may have to live with the unpleasant consequences for a long time.

the meek shall inherit the earth; Humility will ultimately be rewarded.

men are from Mars, women are from Venus: Men and women have essentially dissimilar nature

a mind is a terrible thing to waste Everybody should make best use of the intellectual capacity they have:

the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small Retribution may be a long time in coming, but it cannot be avoided; also loosely applied to any slow or painstaking process:

misery loves company When you are unhappy, it is good to be with others who have suffered in a similar way, or simply with people who will listen to your woes and offer sympathy; also used to imply that everybody around them to be in the same situation.

a miss is as good as a mile If you fail, the margin of failure is irrelevant:

money burns a hole in the pocket People are often too eager to spend their money.

money has no smell Money that comes from unsavory or questionable sources is no different from—and no less acceptable than—money that comes from anywhere else

money talks Wealthy people have great influence:

money makes the mare go Money enables things to be done, and things are done faster or more readily for those who are willing and able to pay well:

monkey see, monkey do Foolish people mindlessly copy others:

more die of food than famine Excessive indulgence in the wrong type of food is a bigger killer than famine:

the more you stir it, the worse it stinks The more you investigate an unsavory or dubious affair, the more unpleasant details you discover:

the mother of mischief is no bigger than a midge’s wing A great quarrel, or other major trouble, is often caused by something trivial:

a mouse may help a lion Small or lowly people can sometimes give valuable assistance to those who are greater or more powerful than themselves:

the mouse that has but one hole is quickly taken Do not be dependent on one thing alone, or on a single possible course of action, but have other options in reserve:

much would have more People are never satisfied with what they have:

much cry and little wool Those who make the most noise, the loudest boasts, or the greatest promises often have the least to offer, are the least productive, or simply fail to deliver the goods:

much water goes by the mill that the miller knows not of Many things are stolen or go astray without the knowledge of the person affected:

N


nature abhors a vacuum There are no deficiencies in nature—whenever a gap or vacancy occurs, something or somebody will come along to fi ll it:

nature will have its course There is no denying natural processes or impulses:
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
nature passes nurture; you can drive out nature with a pitchfork
but she keeps on coming back.

the nearer the bone, the sweeter the flesh Thin people are more attractive or desirable; also used literally of meat:

nature passes nurture A person’s inborn character, or inherited characteristics,cannot be changed by his or her upbringing:

the nearer the church, the farther from God People who are active members or officials of a church are often the least godly in their daily lives; also applied to those who live close to a church:

necessity sharpens industry Need makes people work harder:

near is my shirt, but nearer is my skin A person’s own best interests take precedence over those of his or her friends and family:

need makes the old wife trot Necessity provides a sense of urgency:

needs must when the devil drives There are times when people are forced to do things that they would not do under normal circumstances:

ne’er cast a clout till May be out Do not stop wearing any item of warm winter clothing before the end of May:

Nero fiddled while Rome burned People in positions of authority sometimes behave irresponsibly during a crisis:

neglect will kill an injury sooner than revenge Insults and other malicious acts are forgotten most quickly when the victim chooses to ignore them:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
forgive and forget; let bygones be bygones.

never ask pardon before you are accused If nobody knows that you have done something wrong, do not apologize and reveal your guilt—you may get away with it:

never choose your women or linen by candlelight Soft or inadequate lighting can give people and things a deceptively attractive appearance, or hide their faults and flaws:

never do evil that good may come of it A wicked or immoral course of action cannot be vindicated by a worthy objective:
Proverb expressing opposite meaning:
the end justifies the means.

never is a long time Think carefully before you use the word never, which implies a certainty about the future that you cannot possess:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
never say never.

never let the sun go down on your anger If you have quarreled or lost your temper with somebody, make your peace before the end of the day:

never give a sucker an even break Foolish or gullible people are easily exploited and do not deserve a fair chance; used to justify taking advantage of such a person:

never let your education interfere with your intelligence There are times when never do evil that good may come of it you must trust your intuition or native wit rather than what you have been taught or what you have read:

never look a gift horse in the mouth When you are offered something for nothing, accept it with gratitude and do not find fault with it:

never marry for money, but marry where money is It is good to marry somebody with sufficient means for a comfortable life,but wealth should not be your sole criterion in choosing a marriage partner:

never say die Do not surrender, stop trying, or give up hope:

never speak of rope in the house of a man who has been hanged Be tactful and steer clear of sensitive subjects in the company of people who might be upset or offended by them:

never send a boy to do a man’s job Do not assign a difficult task to somebody who lacks the strength, experience, or qualifications to do it properly; also used of inanimate objects, such as an inadequate piece of equipment or a low card that fails to win a trick:

never tell tales out of school Do not pass on confidential information, secrets, or gossip to others, especially to outsiders:

new lords, new laws When a new ruler or government comes to power—or when a new person takes control of a situation—changes are made and different rules apply:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
a new broom sweeps clean.

never work with children or animals The unpredictability of children and animals make them unreliable as fellow-workers (a favorite maxim of actors and other entertainers but also used in many other contexts):

night brings counsel If you have a difficult problem to solve or an important decision to make, a good night’s sleep will work wonders:

nine tailors make a man A well-dressed person does not buy all his or her clothes from the same source:

nobody is indispensable Nobody is so important or well qualified that he or she cannot be replaced by another:

a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse In certain circumstances only the smallest hint is needed to make yourself understood; also used to imply that any kind of hint is wasted on somebody who is determined not to take it:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
a word to the wise is sufficient.

nobody is infallible Nobody can claim to be always right and never to have made a mistake:
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
homer sometimes nods; to err is human, to forgive divine.

no good deed goes unpunished When you do something kind or helpful you often get something unpleasant in return; a cynical observation:

no man is an island Nobody can function in total isolation from the rest of society:

no man is a hero to his valet The better you know somebody, with all his or her faults and weaknesses, the less likely you are to regard that person with awe or veneration:

no names, no pack-drill If no names are mentioned, nobody can be punished or held responsible for something:

none but the brave deserve the fair Those who lack boldness or courage do not deserve to achieve great things;also used more literally, of men courting women—or vice versa:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
faint heart never won fair lady.

no news is good news It is probably

nothing is certain but the unforeseen The one thing that is sure to happen is the thing that nobody expects or is prepared for; also used to imply that nothing can be predicted:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
the unexpected always happens.

nothing should be done in haste but gripping a flea There are very few things that need to be done quickly; said by somebody urged to hurry up:

nothing ventured, nothing gained You will not achieve anything unless you are prepared to make an attempt or take a risk:

nothing so bad but it might have been worse Try to take a positive view of misfortune—things are never as bad as they could be:

nothing so bold as a blind mare Those who are ignorant or unaware of danger proceed without fear or caution:

nought is never in danger Persons or things of no value are at no risk of being stolen:

nothing succeeds like success Successful people go on to ever greater things; also used to imply that people are more respected or accepted after they succeed:

O

obey orders, if you break owners Do as you are commanded, even if this means doing something you know to be foolish or wrong:

the obvious choice is usually a quick regret Think carefully before you make a selection or decision:

an old fox is not easily snared A person with years of experience is unlikely to be easily fooled:

oil and water do not mix Some people or things are incompatible by nature:

old sins cast long shadows The passage of time often has the effect of making past wrongdoing seem greater or more signifi cant than it actually was:

old soldiers never die Those who have served in the armed forces and survived warfare often live so long that they seem indestructible:

an old poacher makes the best gamekeeper A reformed wrongdoer is good at preventing others from committing the same crime or offense, because he or she can understand their thinking and anticipate their actions:

once bitten, twice shy Somebody who has had a bad experience is reluctant to do the same thing again:
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
once burned, twice shy; a burnt child dreads the fire.

once a priest, always a priest People cannot change their vocation; also used to imply that people continue to behave in accordance with the habits and training of their trade or profession even after they have left it:

one cannot love and be wise People often show a lack of common sense or good judgment when they are in love:

one for the mouse, one for the crow, one to rot, one to grow It is advisable not to expect a yield of more than 25 percent when sowing seed:

one courageous thought will put to flight a host of troubles A strong and positive mental attitude is the best defense against anxiety or adversity:

one funeral makes many Standing around a grave on a cold or rainy day is not good for the health, and can prove fatal for those attending a funeral:

one enemy is too much Having even a single enemy in the world is dangerous:

one hand washes the other People cooperate and help one another, and expect favors to be reciprocated:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
you scratch my back and i’ll scratch yours.

one half of the world doesn’t know how the other half lives People have no conception or understanding of the problems and pleasures of everyday life for those in other social classes, occupations, or countries; chiefly used of the contrast between rich and poor:

one hour’s sleep before midnight is worth two after Those who go to bed early have a more refreshing night’s sleep than those who rise late in the morning:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

one hand for yourself and one for the ship Do not neglect your own safety, security, or well-being for the sake of your work or your employers; also used literally as a safety maxim for those working at sea:

one law for the rich and another for the poor It sometimes seems that rich people are treated more leniently by the legal system than poor people:

one man’s trash is another man’s treasure Many people prize things that others would not give houseroom to:

one might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb If you are going to suffer or be punished for something, you might as well get the maximum pleasure or benefit from it:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
in for a penny, in for a pound.

one man’s loss is another man’s gain People profit from the misfortunes of others; also used more literally:

one nail drives out another One thing replaces another, or new ideas or customs cause old ones to fall into disuse:

one man’s meat is another man’s poison What one person likes, another person dislikes

one of these days is none of these days Somebody who says he or she will do something “one of these days”—that is, at some unspecified future time—will probably never do it; said in response to such a person:

one picture is worth ten thousand words Visual images are often the most concise and effective means of expression:

one swallow does not make a summer You cannot generalize from a single occurrence:

one sword keeps another in its scabbard Showing that you are ready and able to defend yourself is a good way of discouraging others from attacking you:

one thief robs another People who are dishonest will not scruple to steal from each other.

one story is good till another is told People are happy to accept one idea until a new idea comes along to replace it:

the only thing a heated argument ever produced is coolness An angry exchange of words resolves nothing and leads to a breakdown of friendly relations:

one year’s seeding makes seven years’ weeding If you allow weeds to seed themselves, it will take a long time to get rid of all the new plants they produce; also used figuratively of the need to eradicate something undesirable before it has a chance to spread, or to warn people that their actions can have lasting repercussions:

an open door may tempt a saint It is best not to put temptation in anybody’s way—even the most honest and upright person might find it hard to resist:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
opportunity makes a thief.

the opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings Wait until something finally comes to an end before you give up hope, celebrate your success, abandon your efforts, or make a judgment:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
it’s not over till it’s over.

opportunities look for you when you are worth finding Those who have good fortune are often those who best deserve it:

an ounce of common sense is worth a pound of theory A practical commonsense approach is often far more effective than abstract theorizing:

an ounce of discretion is worth a pound of wit Good judgment is often more valuable than knowledge or learning; also interpreted more literally as a warning to tactfully refrain from making jokes at another’s expense:

other times, other manners Customs and conventions change over the years,and we should not judge people or things of the past by modern standards, or vice versa; sometimes said to those who mock or criticize the behavior of members of a different generation:

out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks People cannot avoid talking about what is on their mind; also used to imply that a person’s true thoughts and feelings are revealed by what he or she says:

P

parents are patterns Parents are role models for their children and should set a good example:

paper bleeds little It is easy to do something in writing, without taking account of the human factors involved:

past cure, past care It is futile worrying about something when it is too late to do anything about it.

paper does not blush It is possible to express in writing what you would be too ashamed or embarrassed to say:

pay as you go and nothing you’ll owe It is best to pay for everything when you receive it and not to get into debt:

pay beforehand was never well served People who are paid in advance for their services have little incentive to work hard or well

peace makes plenty Peace brings prosperity:

patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel Those who have no better argument resort to appeals to patriotic sentiment:

people are more easily led than driven It is better to guide people by example than to force them to do as they are told:

physician, heal thyself Do not reproach another person for something that you are equally guilty of; also used to imply that you should solve your own problems before you try to deal with those of other people:

the pitcher will go to the well once too often Nothing can continue or be repeated indefinitely—a run of good fortune or success must come to an end, persistent cheats or swindlers will ultimately be caught out:

pity is akin to love Pity and love are related emotions:

pigs are pigs All bad people or things are equally undesirable, regardless of where they come from:

please your eye and plague your heart Those who choose their husbands, wives, or lovers on the basis of good looks alone may suffer for their choice:

possession is nine points of the law A person who actually has something in his or her possession is in a strong position for claiming legal ownership of or entitlement to it:

a postern door makes a thief It is all too easy to rob a house that has a rear entrance through which people can slip in and out unnoticed:

politics makes strange bedfellows Politics tends to bring together those who would normally avoid each other’s company,and unlikely alliances may be forged for political reasons:

the post of honor is the post of danger The most perilous positions in an administration or organization are those that have the highest prestige:

the pot calls the kettle black People criticize others for faults that they have themselves, or make accusations that are equally applicable to themselves:

power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely Power has an adverse effect on the integrity of those in authority,and the more power they have, the worse they become:

poverty comes from God, but not dirt Some people cannot avoid being poor, but nobody has any excuse for being dirty or for failing to keep his or her house clean:

prejudice is being down on what we are not up on People automatically dislike or distrust anything they have no understanding of or familiarity with:

praise no man till he is dead Final judgments on a person’s qualities can only become reliable after he or she is dead:

praise the bridge that carries you over Do not criticize people or things that have helped you:

pride goes before a fall Arrogance and overconfidence often lead to humiliation or disaster; often used as a warning:

the price of liberty is eternal vigilance Freedom can only be preserved by keeping a watch on any threat to it:

procrastination is the thief of time If you constantly put off doing things, you will only waste the time in which they could have been done and will ultimately run out of time in which to do them:

pride feels no pain People are able to endure or ignore the physical discomfort caused by smart or fashionable clothes, shoes, or jewelry; also used in other situations where people tolerate physical suffering in order not to lose face:

promises, like piecrust, are made to be broken
People cannot be depended upon to keep their word:

prosperity discovers vice; adversity, virtue Wealth or good fortune often brings out the worst in a person, whereas hardship or misfortune brings out the best:

the proof of the pudding is in the eating Nothing can be properly judged until it is put to the test:

providence is always on the side of the big battalions Those with the greatest strength, power, or influence always seem to have luck on their side and inevitably win the day:

a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country People who give words of warning or wisdom are not heeded or appreciated by those closest to them:

put your best foot forward Always make the most of your strengths and abilities; also used to urge people to make their best effort or be on their best behavior:

put your trust in God, and keep your powder dry Do not pin all your hopes on divine assistance or intervention—always be prepared to take action yourself if necessary:

punctuality is the politeness of kings It is discourteous to be late, regardless of your rank or status:

Q

quit while you are ahead Give up doing something when you are in a good position rather than risk what you have already gained:

quickly come, quickly go Something that arises suddenly is likely to disappear just as suddenly; also used of something that is rapidly gained and lost:

R

the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong Speed and power do not guarantee success—those who are slower and weaker may win through perseverance or tactics:


rats desert a sinking ship People tend to leave an organization, pull out of a project, or abandon a cause when they become aware that it is heading for disaster;often used to imply disloyalty, or to predict the imminent failure of something:

rain before seven, fine before eleven Rain early in the morning often heralds a fine day; occasionally applied to other things that start in an unpromising way:

render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s Give what you have to give to those who have a better claim to them:

a reed before the wind lives on, while mighty oaks do fall Those who are flexible and relatively insignificant can survive crises that bring down more prominent people who are unable or unwilling to yield or adapt:

revenge is a dish best eaten cold Vengeance is often more satisfying if it is exacted some time after the original offense; said when a wrong cannot be immediately avenged, or used to discourage somebody from retaliating in the heat of the moment:

the rich man has his ice in the summer and the poor man gets his in the winter It may seem that everybody, rich or poor, has an equal share of good fortune in life, but this is not so:

revolutions are not made with rose water It is not possible to bring about drastic changes by pleasant, easy, or peaceful means, or without causing damage or suffering:

riches have wings Money is soon gone.

a rising tide lifts all boats Everybody benefits from an upward trend in a nation’s prosperity or quality of life:

Robin Hood could brave all weathers but a thaw wind Of all kinds of weather,a raw wind after frost or snow is the most penetrating.

a rolling stone gathers no moss People who spend their lives traveling or moving around tend to accumulate few responsibilities or personal attachments:

the road to hell is paved with good intentions Good intentions are of no value unless they are translated into action; also used when something done with good intentions has an undesirable or harmful effect:

a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose Things and people are what they are—you cannot define them in any other way, or change their essential nature by giving them a different name:

S

safe bind, safe find If you fasten things securely before you leave, or lock somebody or something away, they will still be there when you return:

save something for a rainy day It is sensible to put money aside in case it is needed in the future:

save us from our friends Our friends can cause us far more harm or trouble than our enemies; usually—but not exclusively—applied to false, treacherous, or disloyal friends:

second thoughts are best Do not act on impulse:

seize the day Live for the present, and take full advantage of every moment:

seldom seen, soon forgotten Persons or things rarely seen or mentioned are quickly forgotten:

self-deceit is the easiest of any It is easy to convince yourself of something that you want to believe:

self-interest is the rule, self-sacrifice the exception People are far more concerned with looking after their own interests than with sacrificing their needs for the sake of others:

send a fool to market and a fool he’ll return It is unrealistic to expect a fool to change into anything but a fool:

shit happens Sometimes you must resign yourself to the inevitability of bad things happening:

the shoe is on the other foot The situation has been reversed:

the sharper the storm, the sooner it’s over The more unpleasant something is, the less time it lasts:

the shoemaker’s child always goes barefoot People often fail to benefit from the professional skills of those closest to them:

the show must go on Things must continue as if nothing had happened; used when events or circumstances threaten to disrupt something planned:

a short horse is soon curried A small task is soon done:

short reckonings make long friends If you want to keep your friends, and retain goodwill in business, always pay your debts and settle your accounts promptly:

shrouds have no pockets Wealth and possessions are of no use to you after you are dead; often used to justify extravagant spending:

a shut mouth catches no flies It is often safest or wisest to say nothing:

silence gives consent Those who do not reply to a request or accusation, or who raise no objection to something said or done, are assumed to have acquiesced:

sing before breakfast, cry before night Those who wake up feeling happy and carefree often encounter sorrow or trouble before the end of the day:

six hours’ sleep for a man, seven for a woman, and eight for a fool Women need more sleep than men, but only fools sleep for eight hours or more:

a slice off a cut loaf isn’t missed You can get away with wrongdoing, such as adultery or petty theft, if you are not the first person to do it, or if the offended party is unlikely to notice the result:

small choice in rotten apples When faced with two or more equally undesirable options, it matters little which one you choose:

soft and fair goes far Much can be achieved by adopting a calm and gentle approach:

a small gift usually gets small thanks If you give people less than they expect, they may be less grateful than you would like:

some folks speak from experience; others,from experience, don’t speak People often learn from experience that there are times when it is better to say nothing:

something is rotten in the state of Denmark There is something wrong, or something suspicious going on, in a place,organization, or system; often used to imply corruption:

soon ripe, soon rotten Precocious talent or premature success is often short lived:

a son is a son till he gets him a wife,a daughter’s a daughter all of her life Men tend to neglect or lose contact with their parents after marriage, whereas women maintain the bonds of filial affection and loyalty throughout their lives:

spare at the spigot, and let out the bunghole Those who are reluctant to part with small sums of money are often careless or extravagant in their spending on other things; also used to warn against false economy:

spare and have is better than spend and crave It is better to use your money wisely, keeping some in reserve, than to spend it all and find yourself in need:

spare well and have to spend If you do not waste money you will always be able to afford the things you need:

speak softly and carry a big stick Do not threaten violence or provoke aggression, but be prepared to use great force if the need arises:

step on a crack, break your mother’s back It is unlucky to walk on the cracks between paving slabs on the sidewalk; a childish superstition, or used in a children’s game:

a stern chase is a long chase It takes a long time to catch up with something or somebody moving ahead of you in the same direction:

the squeaky wheel gets the grease Those who complain the most loudly or persistently, or who make the most fuss,get what they want:

sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me Verbal abuse, malicious remarks, or defamatory statements do no physical harm; often said by children to those who call them names:

stolen waters are sweet Illicit pleasures are often all the more enjoyable for this reason; also used of the pleasure derived from stolen goods or ill-gotten gains:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
forbidden fruit is sweet.

stone-dead hath no fellow There is nothing so final as death; used by those in favor of capital punishment:

stone walls do not a prison make The mind and spirit are not imprisoned by merely physical restraints:

straws show which way the wind blows Small things, such as apparently trivial details or insignificant events, can be useful indicators of what is going to happen in the future:

the sun loses nothing by shining into a puddle Those who are truly great cannot be corrupted by association with foul or wicked things or people:

sue a beggar and catch a louse There is nothing to be gained by seeking legal redress from those who cannot afford to pay:

sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof There is quite enough to worry about at the present time, without anticipating future problems and troubles:

T


take care of number one Put your own interests before those of everybody else:

take the will for the deed We must always give people credit for their good intentions, even if they fail to carry them through:

a tale never loses in the telling People are inclined to exaggerate, and anecdotes, gossip, or lies are embroidered by the teller each time they are retold:

take things as they come Sometimes it is best to deal with possible problems only as they arise:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
don’t cross the bridge till you come to it; don’t meet troubles halfway;
sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

tell not all you know, nor do all you can It is good policy not to reveal the full extent of your knowledge or capabilities:

that government is best which governs least The best form of government is one that allows people the greatest freedom:

there are other fish in the sea Plenty more people, things, opportunities, or options are available; often used to console somebody whose relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend has ended:

there’ll be sleeping enough in the grave Life is too short to waste time having more sleep than you need:

there are tricks in every trade People in every occupation have their own special— and often secret ways of doing things that enable them to save time,effort, or money; often implying cleverness, craftiness, or deception:

there’s a black sheep in every flock In every family, community, organization, or profession there is at least one member who brings disgrace on the rest:

there are two sides to every question Any issue can be looked at from two opposing viewpoints, both of which merit consideration:

there’s always room at the top Those who excel, or who are truly ambitious,will always succeed:

there’s a sin of omission as well as of commission There are times when failure to do what you should is as bad as doing what you should not do:

there’s a skeleton in every closet Every person, family, or organization has a shameful secret:

there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow Some things can never be achieved; used when people chase after ideals or ambitions that constantly elude them:

there’s honor among thieves Criminals will not hurt or betray their fellow criminals, thus treating one another with more respect than their victims:

there’s luck in leisure It is better not to act in haste; sometimes used to justify procrastination:

there’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle Old people should not be dismissed as incapable:

there’s many a slip between cup and lip Many things can go wrong in the process of putting a plan into action; often used to warn against overconfidence or overoptimism:

there’s many a good cock come out of a tattered bag Do not be misled by external appearances—it is what is inside or what emerges from something that counts; also used to imply that people should not be judged by their parents, clothes, or background

there’s measure in all things Everything should be done in moderation:

there’s no disputing about tastes There is no point in arguing about what is good or bad, since everybody likes different things:

there’s no fool like an old fool Foolish behavior in old people is often worse than that in the young:

there’s no such thing as a free lunch Everything must be paid for, sooner or later, directly or indirectly:

there’s no royal road to learning Knowledge and skills can only be acquired by hard work—there are no short cuts:

there’s no such thing as bad weather,only the wrong clothes Any weather is tolerable if you are suitably dressed for it:

there’s no smoke without fire Rumors usually have a factual basis, although they may present a misleading or exaggerated version of the truth:

there’s nowt so queer as folk People are uniquely unpredictable:

there’s nothing new under the sun What is thought to be a novelty is often shown to be nothing more than a revival or reintroduction of an old idea; also used as a comment on the changeless nature of things:

a thing you don’t want is dear at any price Do not be tempted to buy something you do not need just because it is cheap:

there’s nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse Riding is a healthy pastime:

they also serve who only stand and wait You can be often be helpful without actively doing anything; also used to commend or encourage patience and endurance:

they that dance must pay the piper Those who gain pleasure or benefit from something must be prepared to bear the costs or suffer the consequences:

they that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind People who provoke trouble or violence—or behave in a reckless manner—will suffer far worse consequences:

a thing of beauty is a joy forever Beautiful things bring lasting pleasure; often used to imply that the memory of something beautiful stays with you for a long time afterward:

things come in threes According to popular superstition, two similar occurrences—bad or good—are inevitably followed by a third:

things past cannot be recalled It is too late for regret after something is done; sometimes used to advise caution:

thinking is very far from knowing Opinion and conjecture are not the same as knowledge and certainty:

think much, speak little, and write less It is best to think long and hard about something before expressing any thoughts about it.

those who can, do; those who can’t,teach People who are incapable of putting their knowledge and skills to practical use go into education:

those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it Those who forget, are ignorant of, or fail to learn from the mistakes of earlier generations are likely to make the same mistakes themselves:

this, too, shall pass Do not despair—an unpleasant situation or a difficult period will not last forever:

those who hide can find The person who finds something is often the person who hid it in the first place:

those who know don’t speak; those who speak don’t know Those who talk the most volubly are usually those who know the least about the subject in question:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
who knows most, speaks least.

the thread breaks where it is weakest A weak point in a thread or anything else is likely to be the point where the whole thing fails:
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
a chain is no stronger than its weakest link.

threatened men live long Threats are often not carried out, and people who have been warned are on their guard and therefore in less danger than others; sometimes said in defiant response to a threat or warning:

those who play at bowls must look out for rubbers It is foolish to embark on or participate in an enterprise without being aware of or taking account of the problems you may encounter:

thought is free Anybody may think whatever he or she likes:

three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead It is impossible for two or more people to keep a secret:

throw dirt enough, and some will stick A reputation that is constantly attacked cannot remain undamaged—if false accusations or defamatory remarks are repeated often enough, people will begin to believe them:

throw out a sprat to catch a mackerel It is worth making a small sacrifice to gain something of much greater value:

thrift is a great revenue Saving and frugality lead to financial gain:

time hangs heavy on idle hands Time seems to pass more slowly when we have little or nothing to do:

time and tide wait for no man Nobody can afford to delay or be delayed:

time is a great healer Grief, shock,wounded feelings, and so on will fade with time:
Proverbs expressing similar meaning:
patience is a remedy for every sorrow; time works wonders.
time is the rider that breaks youth Young people become less wild and more sensible with age:

times change, and we with time Customs,values, and circumstances are constantly changing, and we must adapt ourselves accordingly:

today is yesterday’s tomorrow
You cannot go on putting things off, because the future becomes the present:

today you, tomorrow me What happens to one person one day could happen to another person the next day:

to each his own Everybody has his or her own tastes and idiosyncrasies:


tomorrow is another day
Don’t worry about what has happened today—things may improve tomorrow; also used with reference to making a fresh start:

too many chiefs and not enough Indians There are too many people giving orders and not enough following them, or too many people in charge and not enough to do the work:

too many cooks spoil the broth :Too many people trying to help can be a hindrance; also used of too many people working on the same project, often pulling in different directions.

the tongue always returns to the sore tooth: People cannot help thinking or talking about what is bothering them most at a particular time.

toot your own horn lest the same be never tooted :Sing your own praises, in case nobody else does.

trade follows the flag One nation may colonize another for commercial purposes.

to the pure all things are pure :Virtuous people tend to be unaware of the wickedness or evil that is around them; sometimes used to imply naivety.

travel broadens the mind: People become more broad-minded and knowledgeable by visiting other countries and learning about the customs, culture, and lifestyle of those who live there.

to the victor belong the spoils :The winner of a contest or battle gets everything that goes with victory:
touch wood If nothing goes wrong, everything will turn out satisfactorily.

a traveler may lie with authority: People who have traveled may boast of their experiences without fear of contradiction.

the tree is known by its fruit :People should judged by what they do or produce—specifically, by their children—rather than by first impressions or outward appearance.

true blue will never stain: Persons of real integrity can never be corrupted.

trust everybody, but cut the cards: Have faith in the honesty and integrity of those around you, but remain on your guard and take precautions in case you are wrong.

trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle Perfection is a great thing, but not easy to achieve, and attention to detail is of the utmost importance.

trust not a new friend nor an old enemy :It is foolish to trust either a friend of short standing or someone else who may harbor hostile feelings.

truth is the first casualty of war: When war breaks out, the truth quickly succumbs to propaganda and rumor.

trust not one night’s ice: Do not rely upon something that has yet to be tried and tested.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
first try and then trust.

truth is truth to the end of the reckoning:The truth can never be changed:

truth lies at the bottom of a well: It is often very difficult to discover the truth.

truth is stranger than fiction: The truth is often far more unlikely than anything that can be dreamed up by the imagination.


two of a trade never agree Members of the same trade or profession often do not get on with one another, because of rivalry.

two boys are half a boy, and three boys are no boy at all: When two or more boys work together, they distract each other and do less work between them than a single boy working alone.


U



uneasy lies the head that wears a crown: Those in power are weighed down by responsibilities, feelings of insecurity, or fears of losing their position and can never rest easy.

use legs and have legs The body, among other things, will continue to work properly only if kept in regular use.

the used key is always bright :Activity, work, and exercise keep the mind and body in good form.

V


variety is the spice of life: Change and difference make life interesting.

virtue is its own reward :The satisfaction of knowing you have done the right thing is all that is needed.

the voice of the people is the voice of God The will of the people must be obeyed; also used to imply that the people are always right.

the vicar of Bray will be vicar of Bray still Some people doggedly cling to office or other privileges however much circumstances might change around them.

W

walnuts and pears you plant for your heirs: Walnut trees and pear trees take a long time to produce fruit.

wanton kittens make sober cats People who live wildly or extravagantly in their youth usually develop into sensible and responsible adults.

war is too important to be left to the generals: Those in authority cannot be relied on to do their job properly; applied to warfare, diplomacy, or government.

war will cease when men refuse to fight: There will always be war while there are people who are prepared to serve in the armed forces; a pacifist slogan.

water seeks its own level People tend to be drawn toward, or to end up with, others of the same background, class,intelligence, or experience.

waste not, want not: If you make full and careful use of your resources, you will never be in need; applied to everything from the eating up of leftover food to domestic and industrial recycling.

a watched pot never boils: It seems that things take longer to happen when you watch or wait with impatience.

the weakest go to the wall: In any conflict or struggle, the weakest will always lose, be defeated, fail, or be ruined.

water is the only drink for a wise man Wise people avoid drinking alcohol.

wear your learning like your watch, in a private pocket: Do not make a show of your knowledge or education.

we all have our cross to bear: Nobody is exempt from suffering—we all have our own problems and afflictions.

wedlock is a padlock: Marriage brings with it many restrictions on personal freedom.

wealth makes many friends: Many people want to be the friend of a rich person.
Proverb expressing similar meaning:
he that has a full purse never wanted a friend.

the wearer best knows where the shoe pinches: Nobody can fully understand another person’s hardship or suffering.

welcome is the best cheer: Welcoming your guests with friendly hospitality is more important than giving them fine food.

a wet May brings plenty of hay: Wet weather in May means the hay harvest will be good later in the year.

what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive: Once you have told one lie, you find yourself supporting it with other related lies, constructing an elaborate network of deceit from which it is not easy to escape.

we must eat a peck of dirt before we die: Everybody must suffer a certain amount of unpleasantness during his or her lifetime; also used literally, as when eating unwashed food.

what can’t be cured must be endured: If something cannot be put right, we must learn to put up with it.

we must learn to walk before we can run: It is necessary to learn the basics before progressing to more advanced things.

what can you expect from a pig but a grunt? Boorish or uncouth people cannot be expected to behave in any other way; used as an insult when such a person says or does something rude.

whatever man has done, man may do: If one person has succeeded in doing something, it should not be impossible for another person to do it too.

what goes up must come down: The law of gravity must be obeyed; also used figuratively of any rise and fall.

what has happened once can happen again: Something that has a precedent cannot be dismissed as impossible, and may recur.

what goes around, comes around: Those who say or do bad things to other people are likely to find themselves on the receiving end of similar criticism or treatment in the future; also used to imply that everybody eventually gets his or her just deserts.

what’s bred in the bone will come out in the flesh: Inherited characteristics be come evident in each new generation.

what’s good for General Motors is good for America: Anything that benefits business and commerce is of benefit to the country as a whole.

what’s got over the devil’s back is spent under his belly :Money that is acquired by illicit or immoral means is spent in a similar manner.

what’s yours is mine, and what’s mine is my own: People often expect free use of what belongs to others while refusing to share their own property.

what’s new cannot be true: People are always skeptical about new ideas.

what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over: Nobody can be upset by something that he or she is unaware of.

what’s past is prologue: Everything that has gone before is just the introduction to what is still to come.

what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander: What is appropriate for one person is equally appropriate for another person in a similar situation.

what the soldier said isn’t evidence: Gossip, hearsay, and rumor are not reliable sources of the truth:

what will be, will be: What is destined to happen cannot be prevented.

what you see is what you get: Things or people are exactly as they seem; used to imply honesty, straightforwardness, etc.

what you don’t know can’t hurt you: It is often better to remain in ignorance of things that could distress you.

what you’ve never had you never miss: People do not feel the lack of something they have never possessed or enjoyed.

what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts: Gains and losses tend to balance one another overall.

the wheel comes full circle: Things eventually reach a situation resembling that from which they began.

when a dog bites a man, that is not news; but when a man bites a dog, that is news: The media are only interested in unusual or outrageous stories.

the wheel of fortune is forever in motion: People’s fortunes are constantly changing—somebody who has good luck one year may have bad luck the next, and vice versa.

when all fruit fails, welcome haws: We must accept with gratitude whatever is available, even if it is not exactly what we want or need.

when Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman? The class system has not always existed and is therefore invalid or irrelevant.

when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail People with a restricted range of knowledge or options often try to apply the same solution to every problem.

when Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war: A contest or struggle between equally matched opponents is a long and fierce battle.

when in Rome, do as the Romans do You should always follow the customs, rules, and laws of the place where you are.

when house and land are gone and spent,then learning is most excellent: It is important to have a good education to fall back on if you lose or use up all your money and material assets.

when poverty comes in at the door,love flies out of the window Financial problems can cause the breakdown of a marriage or other loving relationship.

when in doubt, do nothing: If you are unsure what to do, it is best to do nothing at all.

when the cat’s away, the mice will play: People do as they please in the absence of those in authority.

when the going gets tough, the tough get going: In times of crisis, those who are most resilient and determined take action and prove their worth.

when thieves fall out, honest men come by their own: A dispute between criminals is to the advantage of their victims,either because they betray one another and reveal the truth, or because they are too busy arguing to commit the crime in the first place.

when you go to dance, take heed whom you take by the hand: Beware of getting involved with dishonest or unscrupulous people.

where bees are, there is honey: Wherever there are industrious people, wealth is produced; also used of other types of people whose presence is indicative or suggestive of something.

when you are in a hole, stop digging: When you have landed yourself in trouble, such as through a foolish remark or action, do not say or do anything to make the situation worse.

where God builds a church, the devil will build a chapel Any force for good, such as progress or reform, is inevitably accompanied—or closely followed—by something bad; not exclusively used in religious contexts.

when you argue with a fool, make sure he isn’t similarly engaged do not assume that you are more intelligent or knowledgeable than the person you are arguing with.

where the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered:People are drawn together, or to a particular place, when they think they will gain something to their advantage.

where there’s no vision, the people perish: People need hopes and dreams to sustain them.

which came first, the chicken or the egg? It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between cause and effect.

while the grass grows, the steed starves: If somebody has to wait a long time for something, it may arrive too late to be of use.

whiskey and gasoline don’t mix do not drive an automobile after drinking alcohol.

while two dogs are fighting for a bone,a third runs away with it :When two parties are engaged in a dispute, their attention is distracted from what is going on around them, and both may end up as losers.

who has land has war: There will always be disputes over the ownership of land.

whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad: Those who commit acts of great folly are heading for disaster, the implication being that such people lose their sanity or good sense because they are destined for this end.

who repairs not his gutters repairs his whole house Those who neglect small repairs will fi nd they have to make much bigger ones later.

who says A must say B If you say or do one thing, you must be prepared to say or do what logically follows.

whose bread I eat, his song I sing: People show loyalty to, or comply with the demands of, those who employ, pay, or feed them.

Y

you can’t put an old head on young shoulders: It is unreasonable to expect young people to be as sensible or knowledgeable as their elders.

you can’t make bricks without straw :You cannot produce anything without the necessary materials or resources.

you can’t put a square peg in a round hole: Do not give somebody a job for which he or she is unsuited or unqualified; also used of other situations in which a person is a misfit.

you can’t put new wine in old bottles: The introduction of new methods,ideas, items, or components into
something old and well established—or old and decrepit—can have disastrous consequences.

you can’t shift an old tree without it dying: Relocation is not good for old people.

you can’t step twice into the same river :Things are constantly changing.

you can’t run with the hare and hunt with the hounds: You cannot support two opposing parties at the same time.

you can’t take it with you: You might as well spend your money while you are alive, because it can’t be carried with you into the next world.

you can’t serve God and mammon :A devout or virtuous way of life is incompatible with the pursuit of material wealth and possessions.

you can’t teach an old dog new tricks: Old people are often unwilling or unable to learn new skills or adopt
new methods.

you can’t unscramble eggs: Damage cannot be undone, and changes cannot be reversed.

you can’t win ’em all: Nobody: can hope to succeed every time.

you have to take the rough with the smooth: Everything has pleasant and unpleasant—or difficult and easy—aspects

you never know what you can do until you try: People are often surprised to discover what they are capable of when they make an effort.

a young man married is a young man marred: It is not good to marry too young.

a young barber and an old physician: Youth is fine in a barber but undesirable in a doctor.

young men may die, but old men must die: Death is a possibility at any age, but a certainty in old age.

the young cock crows as he heard the old one: The young learn by the example of their elders.

young folks think old folks to be fools,but old folks know young folks to be fools: Young people think they are wiser than their elders, but the opposite is true.

young saint, old devil: Those who behave best when they are young are often those who behave worst when they are old.

you pays your money and you takes your choice: It is up to you which item, course of action, or theory you choose;used when there is an element of chance involved, or when there is little difference between the options available.

you should know a man seven years before you stir his fire: You should not be too familiar with people, or interfere in their domestic affairs, until you have known them for some time.

you snooze, you lose Those who fail to keep alert will lose out.

you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours: Favors will be reciprocated; often used to imply corruption, or a covert arrangement between the parties concerned.

youth must be served: Young people should be allowed to have their own way, helped, or treated with forbearance.

youth will have its fling: Young people should be forgiven for their excesses or improprieties.

Z

zeal without knowledge is a runaway horse: Uninformed enthusiasm will only lead to disaster.
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