Selected proverbs



Selected proverbs

A proverb is a short, traditional saying in general use. It usually expresses some obvious truth or familiar experience. Here are some proverbs that are well known in English, though some of them come from other languages. You can also see the meanings of these proverbs.


“The best things in life are free.”

We don’t have to pay for the things that are really valuable, like love, friendship and good health.


“A stitch in time saves nine.”

Repair something as soon as it is damaged. That’s a small repair job. If not, you will have a much bigger and more expensive repair job later.


“Still waters run deep.”

Deep rivers have no rocks near the surface and the water is smooth and still. The proverb means that people who are calm and tranquil on the outside, often have a strong, “deep” personality.


“He teaches ill, who teaches all.”

The word “ill” here means “badly”. So it means that the teacher who teaches students everything, does not teach well. A good teacher lets students discover some things for themselves.


“You can’t take it with you when you die.”

When we die we leave everything on earth. We don’t take anything with us. Even the richest people cannot take their money with them after death.


“Better untaught than ill taught.”

We understand: “It is better not to be taught at all than to be taught badly.” It’s better not to learn something than to learn it badly.


“Don’t cross your bridges before you come to them.”

Don’t worry about problems before they arrive.


“Soon learnt, soon forgotten.”

Something that is easy to learn is easy to forget.


“It was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.”

There is a limit to everything. We can load the camel with lots of straw, but finally it will be too much and the camel’s back will break. People often say “That’s the last straw!” when they will not accept any more of something.


“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

Many women have won a man’s love by cooking delicious meals for him. They fed his stomach and found love in his heart.


“Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

If we have the determination to do something, we can always find the path or method to do it.


“If you wish good advice, consult an old man.”

Old people have a lot of experience. If you want to have good advice or recommendations, ask an old person, not a young one.


“The best advice is found on the pillow.”

If we have a problem, we may find the answer after a good night’s sleep. People also often say: “I’ll sleep on it.”


“You can’t tell a book by its cover.”

We need to read a book to know if it’s good or bad. We cannot know what it’s like just by looking at the front or back cover. This proverb is applied to everything, not only books.


“Bad news travels fast.”

“Bad news” means news about “bad” things like accidents, death, illness etc. People tend to tell this type of news quickly.


“No news is good news.”

If we are waiting for news about someone, it’s probably good if we hear nothing because “bad news” would arrive quickly.


“Live and let live.”

This proverb suggests that we should not interfere in other people’s business. We should live our own lives and let others live their lives.


“Birds of a feather flock together.”

“Birds of a feather” means “birds of the same type”. The whole proverb means that people of the same type or sort stay together. They don’t mix with people of another type.

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