Questions tagged [proverbs]

For questions about English proverbs, well-known sentences, often with a literal as well as a figurative meaning, which are appropriate for certain situations.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
22 votes
9 answers
5k views

What's the English saying for "That the ancestors are successful is inferior to that the descendants are successful"?

There goes a Chinese maxim "前人 强 不如 后人 强". 前人= former generation, ancestor; 后人= later generation, descendant; 强= strong, powerful; 不如= not as good/well as, inferior to, less desirable than. ...
user avatar
19 votes
9 answers
4k views

"Even vinegar, once you've gotten it for free, tastes sweet": Is there an English equivalent for this saying?

There's a slang word in Russian, халява (pronounced halyava), meaning something that you get for free and without any effort despite its obvious monetary or effortful value. This something isn't ...
user avatar
  • 9,283
16 votes
11 answers
7k views

Is there an idiom that says not to change a perfectly good thing?

Is there an idiom/word/proverb that says not to change a perfectly good thing or something that works?
user avatar
  • 169
12 votes
7 answers
5k views

Is there an idiom about how humanely killing something is better than letting it live in pain?

The thing in question can be a wounded animal or a dysfunctional relationship. In mild sense, it can be an object or idea that requires a lot of investment for it, and when it turns out that it not ...
user avatar
  • 2,410
11 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is there a proverb that means "to solve two problems at once"?

In my language, we have a proverb that means "to solve two problems with only one solution". It would be literally translated as: I've killed two bunnies with only one hit How would this be said ...
user avatar
  • 213
10 votes
3 answers
5k views

A person lacking money who shows off a lot

There is a proverb in our language which is used when someone tries to show off and pretend to be very rich and also try to spend much money, and somehow prepare well-brand clothes to keep up with the ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
10 votes
4 answers
3k views

He that is silent, gathers stones [closed]

I came across the following proverb at this site. He that is silent, gathers stones. Can anyone explain its meaning? Thanks in advance.
user avatar
  • 471
10 votes
6 answers
2k views

A proverb that is used to imply that you have unexpectedly faced a big problem

What would you say when unexpectedly finding yourself in big trouble while everything itself is not going very well and an irrevocable, unpleasant happening takes place suddenly in the manner that you ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
9 votes
7 answers
11k views

A proverb or idiom which can roughly mean "He has taken up more jobs than he can handle"

I need a proverb or idiom which can roughly mean "He has taken up more jobs than he can handle". Something like "His head is in ten different places".
user avatar
  • 807
7 votes
1 answer
979 views

"Speak of the devil and he shall appear"- Why is "shall" allowed here?

Speak of the devil and he shall appear First the thing struck me was use of "shall" because "shall" has taken it's place pretty much in language museum. It appears via the Wikipedia article that it ...
user avatar
  • 6,281
6 votes
2 answers
650 views

"Squeezing out of a dead man" proverb

There is a proverb with meaning "although the resource is almost empty, we still try to get something from it, regardless of that our attempts are most likely meaningless". I recall that I've heard a ...
user avatar
6 votes
7 answers
2k views

Is there an English equivalent to this Japanese proverb?

My boss asked me if his translation of a Japanese proverb was accurate the other day. Unfortunately, I don't have the Japanese written down with me, but I can describe it. His translation was "better ...
user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
2k views

an English proverb meaning "the good suffer with the bad"

In my native language, when we want to describe a situation in which a group of people suffer a special consequence regardless of how they performed or whether they deserve that or not, we say "(When ...
user avatar
  • 7,465
5 votes
3 answers
6k views

Idiom for trying to avoid misfortune, but it happens anyway

Is there an idiom, proverb or expression in English describing a situation in which a person is trying really hard to avoid misfortune (by taking precautions) but what exactly he`s trying to distance ...
user avatar
  • 279
5 votes
1 answer
2k views

What is an idiom used for when we say something unfortunate and it comes true?

There is a Chinese idiom 乌鸦嘴 or Crow's Mouth which means saying something unfortunate, and then it comes true. For example: Anthony: I think there will be a thunderstorm later [Some time passes ...
user avatar
  • 151
5 votes
2 answers
861 views

A proverb meaning, "he wanted to do a good thing for others, but he ended up being blamed/hurt"

In my native language when someone is well-intended to help someone else and does something but he ends up taking the blame or getting hurt, we say, "he wanted to be blessed by God, but got burnt by ...
user avatar
  • 7,465
5 votes
4 answers
2k views

Proverb request: too much of something makes its value decrease or disappear

I am looking for a saying which means "too much of something makes the value of it decrease, or sometimes people doesn't value it at all". I know there is a phrase "to take something for granted", but ...
user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
2k views

Need a proverb for a poor man who struggles for better life

I need a proverb for a person who is poor in his native place and migrates to another country for better living, but there too, he still remains poor. So how can we call that person in proverb. In my ...
user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
359 views

An idiom for “Until you punish the offender, they will not give up offenses”

In writing I've come across an idiom of my language that means: Until you punish the offender, they will not give up offenses. What is the English idiom for this? Let me add some explanation to ...
user avatar
  • 1,269
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

Corresponding English saying for a Spanish one about misfortunes and circumstances?

There is a saying in Spanish that doesn't translate very well into English: Cuando las barbas de tu vecino veas pelar, pon las tuyas a remojar. When you see your neighbour's beard plucking[?], get ...
user avatar
  • 2,430
3 votes
2 answers
311 views

The English equivalent of the proverb "They sowed 'if', but it didn't grow"

In my native language, we have a proverb that its word-by-word translation is: They sowed 'if' (as if it was seeds and they had sowed it in the ground), but it didn't grow. It means, make sure that ...
user avatar
  • 7,465
3 votes
1 answer
151 views

What is the English expression for "rafting to the upstream, swimming to the edge"

What is the English expression for the state that someone has to be "sick" beforehand, then at the end achieving the best result? In my native language, it's said: Rafting to the upstream areas (...
user avatar
  • 1,659
3 votes
1 answer
386 views

Is there an idioms for "nothing is yet clear"

I usually say that something is not clear yet like "it is still in the wind" when something is uncertain. Is there any English idiom or proverb that describe this saying?
user avatar
  • 135
3 votes
1 answer
54 views

An expression or idiom to describe "magnifying" a news or an occurance

How would you call the action of someone who hears a news, magnifies it and then transmits it to someone else which would resault in an untrue story about (somebody / an event) comparing the original ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
3 votes
4 answers
112 views

An English proverb or idiom that describes you shouldn’t condemn the weak

Do not ever condemn a straw/dust that comes under your foot. If it ever rises up and goes into your eye, it will cause a lot of pain! That’s an English translation.Kabir Das says that you should not ...
user avatar
  • 381
2 votes
3 answers
481 views

Is there a proverb meaning that "one cannot give what one does not herself have"?

Is there a proverb meaning that "one cannot give what one does not herself have"?
user avatar
  • 1,948
2 votes
3 answers
2k views

When one problem is added to the previous one

Let's assume someone has a big problem and is dealing with it. While he/she has not solved the first problem, another problem comes up and adds to the previous one. I wonder how you would explain this ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
2 votes
3 answers
182 views

Is there proverb about war and mother?

In Ukrainian, there is proverb "Кому війна, кому мати рідна". I would translate it into English as following: "What is war for one, that is mother for another". This means that while some people are ...
user avatar
  • 123
2 votes
2 answers
321 views

Even some useless stuff would be of use some day

Is there any common idiom or expression in English which can convey such a message that: anything that is of no use, will be used someday for sure. It is a translated proverb which believes do not ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
2 votes
2 answers
484 views

Is there a proverb with the meaning never/nobody knows when?

I need a proverb with ironical sense. To answer a "when" question with the meaning never or nobody knows when. for example, in Russian it will be like - когда рак на горе свистнет. I'm interested in ...
user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
4k views

What does X is the new Y mean, and why do we say this?

In English, I sometimes hear a phrase like green is the new black. Literally, this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. What does it mean when someone says X is the new Y, when this makes no sense ...
user avatar
  • 4,677
2 votes
3 answers
64 views

Many experiences in many occasions are needed for a person in order to be counted as wise

There is a proverbial hemistich in my language about a person who is not well-experienced yet. It says: An unexperienced person should travel a lot in order to be wiser / experienced. [literal ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
2 votes
6 answers
2k views

An idiom or proverb for very easy to find but you are unable to see the object, which is very beside or close to you

For example: A speaker said to a listener go in and bring me the chair. He went in and looked for it but couldn't find, then the speaker said, " Where were you looking for the chair? It is beside ...
user avatar
  • 372
2 votes
3 answers
711 views

proverb for about chance and love

I searched for an English proverb for about this subject: you should want (love) a person who he wants (loves) you, too In Persian, the phrase is this: خواهی که جهان در کف اقبال تو باشد خواهان ...
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
340 views

Equivalent of a Hindi proverb: Only a jeweller can identify a diamond

There’s a saying in Hindi: “Only a jeweller can identify a diamond.” Example: The master found the art hidden inside Viddiya and made her a famous lyricist. It’s true only a jeweller can identify a ...
user avatar
  • 381
2 votes
2 answers
830 views

Meaning of "gathering stone" in song lyrics

I need explanation of a line in lyrics by Glen Hansard from the song "Moving On." I struggle to understand the meaning of "(not here) gathering stone". Well, If you've got blood in your heart If ...
user avatar
  • 65
2 votes
2 answers
331 views

Is there any similar idiom/proverb to Japanese proverb -Gesu no kanguri

There is a saying 下衆の勘繰り(Gesu no kanguri) in Japanese. "Gesu" means a person who is mean, lowly, or base in his/her heart. "Kanguri" means interpreting falsely someone's intention as bad. A ...
user avatar
  • 1,976
2 votes
3 answers
3k views

English proverbs

I would just like to ask if anyone could give me any English proverbs which mean: "one may escape from someone but it isn't for forever, early or late he/ she will be caught"? Context: imagine that ...
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
351 views

A proverb to imply two people cannot get along together

For two people who usually don't get along and often argue for any insignificant matter or in general don't see eye to eye, there is a proverb in our language which says: Their water does not ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
2 votes
2 answers
411 views

I need a proverb

We often say, in our native language, that Horses cannot fatten while grazing during the battle hours. which means that one cannot prepare himself at a time when something is impending upon him. ...
user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
60 views

saying request for "one success after another"

Is there a saying to the effect that when a person has a sucess, another soon follows?
user avatar
  • 4,818
2 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is there an idiom or proverb that implies simplicity is good?

Is there an idiom or proverb that implies simplicity is good? I was trying to find some idioms or proverbs that implied simplicity is good, and I was looking for some idioms or proverbs that implied ...
user avatar
  • 5,827
2 votes
1 answer
100 views

The current equivalent for the proverb: "No fish-seller cries stinking fish"

Please imagine: A sales person / manufacturing company's directing manager ets. is marketing their recently produced goods or any other product in order to either be sold or be launched into the ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
2 votes
1 answer
113 views

A proverb to imply the message that: "To all mothers their children seem to be the most beautiful"

As we all well aware about mothers emotions toward their children since birthgiving up to the end! Usually, all mothers think deep down inside that their children are the most beautiful and no other ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
2 votes
2 answers
3k views

Idiom Many go out for wool and come home shorn

We've got a saying in Spain: ir por lana, volver trasquilado I've found that in English already exists a similar proverb: Many go out for wool and come home shorn whose meaning is also ...
user avatar
  • 6,767
2 votes
3 answers
9k views

English saying similar/equivalent to: "When you give, you receive twice as much."

In Greece we have a saying: If you give, you will receive twice as much. Does an equivalent saying exist in English, and if so, what is it?
user avatar
  • 3,546
1 vote
4 answers
1k views

A proverb for "You can pay your dues and enjoy the fruits of your labor for the rest of your life" in AE

Scenario 1) Imagine someone is living a hard life because they have to save their income to invest in a very worthwhile field that can be very helpful in their future financially. You want to ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
1 vote
2 answers
247 views

Why "The pump don't work ..." correct here?

"The pump don't work 'Cause the vandals took the handle." -- Bob Dylan I came across this sentence in a book. It looks like the author quoted that sentence written by Bob Dylan -- who might be a ...
user avatar
  • 12.5k
1 vote
2 answers
448 views

An English equivalent for "all truth will not bear telling"

We all believe that telling the truth is fine. But sometimes there are some occasions in which you'de better keep someone in the dark about something (possibly on their own or someone else's favor) or ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k
1 vote
2 answers
764 views

An equivalent for the proverb "A creaking door hangs longest or..."

Please have a look on the following scenarios and let me know what is the current English equivalent for the meaning in my question that can be used to fill in the blanks: Please imagine a couple ...
user avatar
  • 13.8k