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Proverbs in English

Phonetics:

ˈprɒvɜːb

Pronunciation:

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Proverbs Examples: Timeless English Wisdom Explored

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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Introduction

Have you ever blanked out, confused when you heard expressions like, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” A poor carpenter blames his tools,” or “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?” Why are we talking about building Rome, a carpenter, or an apple falling (wasn’t Newton involved?)

These phrases are not mysterious code words but proverbs.

What is a Proverb?

A proverb is usually a short statement that conveys advice, wisdom, or facts about life. Every language has its set of proverbs and sayings. Learning proverbs with learning English empowers you to learn about the culture of native English speakers. Proverbs with their meanings are necessary to know if you are a non-native English speaker. They are a great aid in increasing your fluency in the language while giving you insight into the cultural aspects of the English language. Proverbs in English for students come in handy, which is what every ESL teacher recommends for expressing complex ideas.

50 Proverbs Examples in English with their Meaning [get your pdf]

We have compiled the most essential proverbs to help you learn significant ‘proverbs with English.’

  1. Don’t judge a book by its cover: In this TikTok-filtered-driven world, do not judge people by appearance.

  2. You can’t have your cake and eat it too: You cannot desire two completely different things and have them both.

  3. Many hands make light work: If everyone works together and cooperates, then tasks will be completed quickly.

  4. Don’t cross the bridge until you come to it: This one is for all the overthinkers; do not think about something that hasn’t happened!

  5. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush: What you already have is probably better than what you don’t.

  6. Practice makes perfect: If you stick to doing something, eventually, you will master it.

  7. Where there’s a will, there’s a way: If you wish to succeed, you will find a way.

  8. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step: It is necessary to start working hard to achieve a goal.

  9. Look before you leap: Do not rush to do things. Instead, make sure you understand what you have to do and the consequences of doing it.

  10. Don’t make a mountain out of an anthill: Do not fret over small mistakes or problems.

  11. The cat is out of the bag: It means the secret is out and is no longer a secret.

  12. Good things come to those who wait: Be patient and keep working hard. You will get the results.

  13. Always put your best foot forward: Start any work or task with enthusiasm and positive energy.

  14. The squeaky wheel gets the grease: You will get help only when you ask for it.

  15. Don’t bite off more than you can chew: Do not take up work or responsibilities that you cannot handle.

  16. It’s no use crying over spilled milk: Do not waste time lamenting over mistakes that have been made. Instead, correct them and find a way to deal with them.

  17. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link: If a team member isn’t performing well, the team will fail.

  18. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket: Do not place all your wealth or assets together.

  19. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones: Better not to point out other people’s flaws and failures when you have also made mistakes.

  20. If you want something done right, you must do it yourself: Do not expect others to do things for you. Do things by yourself if you wish to get the desired results.

  21. A leopard never changes its spots: This means that if a negative quality is part of a person’s character, it will not go away.

  22. First things first: Do not overlook or skip priorities. Instead, tend to them before moving on to less important ones.

  23. Curiosity killed the cat: Do not stick your nose into other people’s business. It will leave you in unpleasant scenarios.

  24. Familiarity breeds contempt: You start finding them annoying when you are around someone for too long.

  25. Learn to walk before you run: Things have to be done sequentially. If you try skipping a step, you will end up making mistakes.

  26. A barking dog rarely bites: It refers to someone who might appear or project themselves to be a threat but isn’t.

  27. Money doesn’t grow on trees: Money is hard to earn, so value it.

  28. Better safe than sorry: It is better to be cautious than to have regrets later.

  29. My hands are tied: When you are unable to do something, even if you want to

  30. It’s the tip of the iceberg: It describes a situation where you are just beginning to see the signs that are part of a bigger problem.

  31. Out of sight, out of mind: It deals with the human tendency to forget things that are not around you or that you do not deal with daily.

  32. You scratch my back, and I will scratch yours: If you do me a favour, I will do something for you.

  33. Beauty is skin-deep: Someone who appears beautiful might not have pleasant qualities as a person.

  34. Ignorance is bliss: You shouldn’t know certain things, and they will not affect you.

  35. Easy come, easy go: If you have not worked hard to get something that comes easily to you, it will disappear quickly.

  36. When the going gets tough, the tough get going: Strong people work harder when the situation becomes difficult.

  37. Fortune favours the bold: People who work to achieve their goals are successful compared to people who do not.

  38. Absence makes the heart grow fonder: When we’re away from loved ones, we long for their company more than at regular times.

  39. Give them an inch, and they will take a mile: When you show generosity towards someone, the person takes undue advantage.

  40. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst: There is always a possibility of a bad event happening. Be prepared for it.

  41. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer: Always keep a watch on your enemies.

  42. The early bird catches the worm: Work hard to achieve a target before anyone who aims for the same target achieves it.

  43. There is no such thing as a free lunch: Anything offered for free isn’t free. There is always a hidden motive accompanying it.

  44. Strike while the iron is hot: Take action when the circumstances are in your favour.

  45. There’s no place like home: Your own home is the most secure and comfortable place to be.

  46. Never look a gift horse in the mouth: Never question if you receive a gift

  47. God helps those who help themselves: You can’t just sit and wait for good things to happen to you. You have to work to achieve your goals.

  48. Cleanliness is next to godliness: Be clean and keep the place around you clean.

  49. All good things must come to an end: You can’t expect good fortune to last forever.

  50. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder: What is beautiful is defined by you. Each person has a different idea about beauty.

Proverbs Examples and Sayings on Life [With Meanings]

Once you know some examples of proverbs, you will realise how commonly they are used. You will spot them sprinkled on Instagram posts and in your favourite book. Proverbs speak about life, and some of the common proverbs examples with their meanings are:

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. 

Meaning: Children resemble their parents in behaviour.

Seeing Sarah’s daughter’s behaviour, I can just say the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Meaning: When we’re away from loved ones, we long for their company more than in standard times.

Being stuck on a different continent, away from my family during the pandemic, I did experience that distance makes the heart grow fonder.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Meaning: What you already have is probably better than what you don’t have at present.

It is okay that you didn’t get the job you expected with an increased salary. You continue to work in your present company. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

All that glitters is not gold.

Meaning: Something that appears valuable or authentic may not be.

After realising the workload that came with Henry’s promotion, I realised that all that glitters is not gold.

A picture is worth a thousand words. 

Meaning: Visuals can convey meanings that go beyond verbal description.

Admiring Van Gogh’s The Starry Night made me realise that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Some of the best proverbs with their meanings are :

Early to bed and rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Taking care of yourself leads to success and productivity.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

People who depend on others must be content with what they receive

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

If you eat healthily, you will remain healthy

Better safe than sorry.

It is better to be cautious than to have regrets later.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

When you are in a new place, adopt the local ways of life.

Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

Don’t make plans based on events that haven’t happened.

Proverbs and Sayings on Books [With Meanings]

Proverbs and sayings give us an insight into life and the wisdom gathered over generations. Each aspect of life has proverbs related to it. Books have been great companions to humans over the ages; thus, some proverbs are also related to their importance. Proverbs in English for students with their meanings related to books are:

  1. Every age has its book: Every generation and every period has its way of life and viewpoints.

  2. A pack of cards is the devil’s prayer book: Books can keep one away from vices.

  3. A closed mind is like a closed book: just a block of wood: A rigid attitude is never open to ideas and change, leading to stagnation. A closed book cannot impart knowledge or wisdom.

  4. Teachers die, but books live on: Books are teachers as they teach us the wisdom of thousands of years. Teachers come and go,

  5. When you read a book for the first time, you get to know a friend; read it for a second time and meet an old friend: You understand a book better when you re-read it.

  6. Every book must be chewed to get out its juice: To gain an in-depth understanding of a subject, a book must be read more than once and reflected upon in light of your and others’ experiences.

  7. A man is happy when he has books but happier when he does not need them: You are content when you read; you can find all the knowledge you need in the books. But you are better when you already have the wisdom from the books.

Famous Proverbs and their Meanings

Memorising ‘Proverbs with English’ is like assimilating nuggets of advice; they are motivational snippets that can give you the proper guidance. Below are some examples of such proverbs examples.

  1. Every cloud has a silver lining: No matter what, there is always a positive side to a difficult situation

  2. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step: It is necessary to start working hard to achieve a goal.

  3. Necessity is the mother of invention: When you need something, you will find a way to create or achieve it.

  4. Two wrongs don’t make a right: Someone’s wrongful conduct should not be your excuse for engaging in the same conduct, even though you are doing it to achieve your aim.

  5. The pen is mightier than the sword: Written words have more impact and can yield more power than violence.

  6. Birds of a feather flock together: People stick together with other like-minded people.

  7. Rome wasn’t built in a day: It conveys that important work takes time.

  8. Time and tide wait for no one: Unlike our efforts, don’t delay taking action, as time cannot be controlled.

  9. Too many cooks spoil the broth: Too many people working on the same thing can produce an inferior result.

  10. When there’s smoke, there’s fire: It usually is if there are rumours or signs that something is true.

  11. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: If something is already working well, don’t try to change it.

  12. You can’t have your cake and eat it too: It’s impossible to satisfy two opposite desires.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most famous proverb?

Many proverbs examples are used often in English, and some of the famous ones are:

  • Honesty is the best policy.
  • The grass is always greener on the other side.
  • A stitch in time saves nine.
  • Better late than never
  • Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
  • Actions speak louder than words.
What is a modern-day proverb?

A modern-day proverb is a proverb that can be related to today’s situation. These proverbs can include the following proverbs examples with their meanings: 

  • All that glitters is not gold. …
  • A picture is worth a thousand words. …
  • All good things come to an end. …
  • Beggars can’t be choosers. …
  • Still waters run deep.
What is a good proverb?

Any ‘proverb with English’ is good as it holds wisdom. You can just about pick up any proverb related to life and find that you can connect it to the events in your life.

What are famous sayings?

Like proverbs, some sayings and quotes inspire and motivate us. Some of the famous ones are:

  1. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” -Walt Disney.

  2. “It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.-Aristotle.

  3. “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”Mother Teresa.

  4. “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.”Albert Einstein.

  5. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – living with the results of other people’s thinking”. -Steve Jobs

  6. “If life were predictable, it would cease to be life and be without flavour.” -Eleanor Roosevelt.

  7. “You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.”Maya Angelou.
What is the proverb of education?

Some unique proverbs in English for students related to education and the importance of knowledge are:

  • Today is the scholar of yesterday.
  • With great learning, a horse, and money, you may travel the world.
  • Learning makes people fit company for themselves.
Which are the best proverbs in the world?

Proverbs, with their meanings, form an integral part of every language and culture. Some of the proverbs from around the globe are;

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb.

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

“Words should be weighed, not counted.”-Yiddish Proverb. 

“If you can’t live longer, live deeper.” – Italian Proverb.

“Do good and throw it in the sea.” – Arab Proverb

“Where love reigns, the impossible may be attained.” – Indian Proverb.

Who wrote Proverbs 14?

Proverbs 14 is the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. It is believed to be associated with King Solomon.

Sometimes, a few words can convey deep meaning, and the following proverbs about success do just that.

  • The start of a journey should never be mistaken for success.
  • Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
  • Nothing succeeds like success.
  • If, at first, you don’t succeed, try again.
  • Do not triumph before the victory.
  • Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.
What is the best quote for students?

The right quotes or proverbs in English for students can help the students grow and reignite their zeal to gain knowledge. Some such quotes that can be used in the classroom are:

  • “Teachers can open the door, but you must enter it yourself.”– Chinese proverb
  • “The man who does not read books has no advantage over the one who cannot read them.” -Mark Twain.
  • “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” – Malcolm X.
  • “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be ignited.”- Plutarch

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” -Albert Einstein.

How many English proverbs are there?

Well, your guess is as good as ours! There are probably thousands of them, as proverbs have been around for a long time and are passed down as wisdom from the older generation to the younger one.

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