List of proverbial phrases

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This is an alphabetical list of widely used and repeated proverbial phrases. Whenever known, the origin of the phrase or proverb is noted. The majority of these phrases can be found at one of the following resources:[clarification needed][a][1][2][3][4][5][6][b][7]

A proverbial phrase or a proverbial expression is type of a conventional saying similar to proverbs and transmitted by oral tradition. The difference is that a proverb is a fixed expression, while a proverbial phrase permits alterations to fit the grammar of the context.[8][9]

In 1768, John Ray defined a proverbial phrase as:

A proverb [or proverbial phrase] is usually defined, an instructive sentence, or common and pithy saying, in which more is generally designed than expressed, famous for its peculiarity or elegance, and therefore adapted by the learned as well as the vulgar, by which it is distinguished from counterfeits which want such authority

— John Ray, A Compleat Collection of English Proverbs, 1798[10]


Phrases beginning with the article "A" should be sought alphabetically under the first letter of the second word.


  • Bad news travels fast[a]
  • Barking dogs seldom bite,[a][b]
  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder[a]
  • Beauty is only skin deep[a][b]
  • Beggars cannot be choosers[a][b]
  • Behind every great man, there is a great woman[a]
  • Better late than never[a]
  • Better safe than sorry[a]
  • Better the Devil you know (than the Devil you do not)[a]
  • Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all[a]
  • Better to light one candle than to curse the darkness[a]
  • Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt[a]
  • Better wear out than rust out.[b]
  • Beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Trojan War, Virgil in the Aeneid[15]
  • Big fish eat little fish[a]
  • Birds of a feather (flock together)[a]
  • Blood is thicker than water
  • Born with a silver spoon in one's mouth
  • Boys will be boys[a]
  • Brevity is the soul of wit (Shakespeare),[a][b]
  • Business before pleasure[a]


  • Caesar's wife must be above suspicion[a]
  • Careless talk costs lives
  • Charity begins at home[a]
  • Cheats never prosper[a]
  • Cheese, wine, and friends must be old to be good.
  • Children should be seen and not heard[a]
  • Christmas comes but once a year[b]
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness[a]
  • Clothes make the man[a]
  • Coffee and love taste best when hot. Ethiopian proverb
  • Cold hands, warm heart[a]
  • Comparisons are odious[a]
  • Count your blessings[a]
  • Courage is the measure of a Man, Beauty is the measure of a Woman[a]
  • Cowards may die many times before their death[a]
  • Crime does not pay[a]
  • Cross the stream where it is shallowest
  • Cut your coat according to your cloth[a][b]
  • Curiosity killed the cat[16]


  • Dead men tell no tales[a]
  • Devil take the hindmost[a]
  • Discretion is the better part of valour[a]
  • Do as I say, not as I do[a]
  • Do as you would be done by[a]
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you[a]
  • Do not bite the hand that feeds you[a]
  • Do not burn your bridges behind you[a]
  • Do not cast your pearls before swine[a]
  • Do not cry over spilled milk
  • Do not change horses in midstream[a]
  • Do not count your chickens before they are hatched[a]
  • Do not cross the bridge till you come to it[a]
  • Do not cut off your nose to spite your face[a]
  • Do not fish for a shark with your hands, fish for hands with a shark.
  • Do not judge a book by its cover[a]
  • Do not keep a dog and bark yourself[a]
  • Do not let the bastards grind you down
  • Do not let the grass grow beneath (one's) feet
  • Do not look a gift horse in the mouth[a]
  • Do not make a mountain out of a mole hill
  • Do not meet troubles half-way[a]
  • Do not put all your eggs in one basket[a]
  • Do not put the cart before the horse[a]
  • Do not put too many irons in the fire
  • Do not put new wine into old bottles[a]
  • Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today
  • Do not rock the boat[a]
  • Do not shut/lock the stable door after the horse has bolted
  • Do not spend it all in one place
  • Do not spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar[a]
  • Do not throw pearls to swine[a]
  • Do not teach your Grandmother to suck eggs[a]
  • Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater[a]
  • Do not try to walk before you can crawl[a]
  • Do not upset the apple-cart[a]
  • Do not wash your dirty linen in public[a]
  • Do not sympathize with those who can not empathize
  • Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Often referred to as the Golden Rule
  • Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom[a]


  • Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise[a][b]. Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790), polymath and Founding Father of the United States
  • Easier said than done
  • East is east, and west is west (and never the twain shall meet)[a]
  • East, west, home is best,[a][b]
  • Easy come, easy go[a]
  • Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper
  • Eat, drink and be merry, (for tomorrow we die)[a]
  • Empty vessels make the most noise[a]
  • Enough is as good as a feast[a]
  • Even a worm will turn[a]
  • Even from a foe a man may learn wisdom.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining[a]
  • Every dog has his day[a]
  • Every Jack has his Jill[a]
  • Every little bit helps[a]
  • Every man for himself (, and the Devil take the hindmost)[a]
  • Every man has his price[a]
  • Every picture tells a story[a]
  • Every stick has two ends[a]
  • Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die[a]
  • Everyone has their price
  • Everything comes to those who wait[b]
  • Every tide has its ebb


  • Failing to plan is planning to fail[a]
  • Faint heart never won fair lady (Scott),[a][b]
  • Fair exchange is no robbery[a]
  • Faith will move mountains[a]
  • Fall seven times, stand up eight.
  • False friends are worse than open enemies.
  • Fake it til' you make it.
  • Familiarity breeds contempt[a]
  • Feed a cold and starve a fever[a]
  • Fight fire with fire[a]
  • Fine feathers make fine birds
  • Finders keepers (, losers weepers)[a]
  • Fine words butter no parsnips[a]
  • First come, first served[a]
  • First impressions are the most lasting[a]
  • First things first[a]
  • Fish always rots from the head downwards[a]
  • Fish and guests smell after three days[a]
  • Flattery will get you nowhere[a]
  • Fools rush in (where angels fear to tread)[a]
  • 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 man was lost[a]
  • Forewarned is forearmed[a]
  • Fortune favours the bold/brave[a]
  • Free is for me[a]
  • Fretting cares make grey hair
  • From the sublime to the ridiculous (is only a step)



  • Half a loaf is better than no bread[a]
  • Handsome is as handsome does[a]
  • Hard cases make bad law[a]
  • Hard work never did anyone any harm[a]
  • Haste makes waste[a]
  • He that goes a-borrowing, goes a-sorrowing[a]
  • He who can, does; he who cannot, teaches[a]
  • He who hesitates is lost[a]
  • He who laughs last laughs longest[a]
  • He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword[a]
  • He who loves the world as his body may be entrusted with the empire. Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC – c. 531 BC)[17]
  • He who makes a beast out of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man[a]
  • He who pays the piper calls the tune[a]
  • He who knows does not speak. He who speaks does not know. Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC – c. 531 BC)[17]
  • He who sups with the Devil should have a long spoon[a]
  • Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned[a]
Heav'n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn'd,
Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn'd.

William Congreve, The Mourning Bride, Act III scene viii

  • Hindsight is always twenty-twenty[a]
  • History repeats itself[a]
  • Home is where the heart is[a]
  • Honesty is the best policy[a]
  • Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.
  • Hope springs eternal[a]
  • Horses for courses[a]
  • Hunger never knows the taste, sleep never knows the comfort[a]
  • History repeats itself, and it does not care what it repeats


  • If anything can go wrong, it will[a]. Also referred to as Murphy's Law
  • If a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well[a]
  • If at first you do not succeed, try, try again[a]
  • If God had meant us to fly, he would have given us wings[a]
  • If ifs and ands were pots and pans, there would be no work for tinkers[a]
  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
  • If it were not for hope the heart would break.
  • If it were a snake, it would have bit you.
  • If the shoe fits, wear it[a]
  • If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain[a]
  • If wealth is lost, nothing is lost. If health is lost, something is lost. If character is lost, everything is lost.[a]
  • If wishes were horses, beggars would ride[a]
  • If you're growing in Age, then you're nearing to the Graveyard[a]
  • If you cannot be good, be careful[a]
  • If you cannot beat them, join them[a]
  • If you cannot live longer, live deeper.
  • If you cannot stand the heat, get out of the kitchen[a]
  • If you give a mouse a cookie, he'll always ask for a glass of milk[a]
  • If you think that you know everything, then you're a Jack ass[a]
  • If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas[a]
  • If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys[a]
  • If you play with fire, you will get burned.
  • If you steal from one author, it is plagiarism; if you steal from many, it is research. Wilson Mizner (1876–1933), American writer and entrepreneur[18]
  • If you want a thing done well, do it yourself[a]
  • If you have never seen the bottom of the tree, you cannot know how tall it stands[a]
  • If you must dance with the Devil, you might as well know his favorite song. (H. Anthony Ribadeneira)[a]
  • If you've got it, flaunt it
  • Ignorance is bliss
  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery[a]
  • In for a penny, in for a pound[a]
  • (March comes) in like a lion, (and goes) out like a lamb
  • In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king[a]
  • In the midst of life, we are in death[a]
  • Into every life a little rain must fall[a]
  • It ain't over till/until it's over
  • It ain't over till the fat lady sings
  • It goes without saying[a]
  • It is a small world
  • It is all grist to the mill[a]
  • It is an ill wind (that blows no one any good)[a]
  • It is best to be on the safe side[a]
  • It is better to be smarter than you appear than to appear smarter than you are.
  • It is better to give than to receive[a]
  • It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all[a]
  • It is better to cultivate a Land with two Bulls, rather working under Boss who never gives Wage when asked[a]
  • It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness[a]
  • It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive[a]
  • It is easy to be wise after the event[a]
  • It is like juggling sand (Ian Murray)[a]
  • It is never too late[a]
  • It is no use crying over spilt milk[a]
  • It is no use locking the stable door after the horse has bolted[a]
  • It is not enough to learn how to ride, you must also learn how to fall.
  • It is on[a]
  • It is the early bird that gets the worm[a]
  • It is the empty can that makes the most noise[a]
  • It is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease[a]
  • It is what it is
  • It needs a Hundred Lies to cover a Single Lie[a]
  • It never rains but it pours[a]
  • It takes a thief to catch a thief[a]
  • It takes a whole village to raise a child
  • It takes all sorts to make a world[a]
  • It takes one to know one[a]
  • It takes two to tango[a]
  • I'm going to have to give you the pink slip[a]
  • It will come back and haunt you[a]
  • It will be the same a hundred years hence.
  • Islands depend on reeds,just as reeds depend on islands.[19]




  • Laugh before breakfast, cry before supper.
  • Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone[a]
  • Laughter is the best medicine[a]
  • Late lunch makes day go faster.
  • Learn a language, and you will avoid a war. Arab proverb[12]
  • Least said, soonest mended[a]
  • Less is more[a]
  • Let bygones be bygones[a]
  • Let not the sun go down on your wrath[a]
  • Let sleeping dogs lie[a]
  • Let the buyer beware[a]
  • Let the cat out of the bag[22]
  • Let the dead bury the dead (N.T.)[a]
  • Let the punishment fit the crime[a]
  • Let well alone[a]
  • Let your hair down.
  • Life begins at forty[a]
  • Life is too short not to do something that matters.
  • Life is not all beer and skittles[a]
  • Life is what you make it[a]
  • Lightning never strikes twice in the same place[a]
  • Like father, like son[a][b]
  • Little pitchers have big ears[a]
  • Little strokes fell great oaks[a]
  • Little things please little minds[a]
  • Live and let live
  • Live for today, for tomorrow never comes[a]
  • Live to fight another day. This saying comes from an English proverbial rhyme, "He who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day".[a]
  • Loose lips sink ships
  • Look before you leap[a]
  • Love is blind. The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act II, Scene 1 (1591)[a]
  • Love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.[23]
  • Love makes the world go around[a]
  • Love will find a way[a]


  • Make hay while the sun shines[a]
  • Make love not war[a]
  • Man does not live by bread alone[a]
  • Manners maketh man[a]
  • Many a little makes a mickle[a]
  • Many a mickle makes a muckle[a]
  • Many a true word is spoken in jest[a]
  • Many hands make light work[a]
  • March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb[a]
  • Marriages are made in heaven[a][a]
  • Marry in haste, repent at leisure[b]
  • Memory is the treasure of the mind
  • Men are blind in their own cause. Heywood Broun (1888–1939), American journalist
  • Men get spoiled by staying, Women get spoiled by wandering[b]
  • Might is right[b]
  • Might makes right
  • Mighty oaks from little acorns grow[a]
  • Milking the bull
  • Misery loves company[a]
  • Moderation in all things[a]
  • Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace, Wednesday's child is full of woe, Thursday's child has far to go, Friday's child is loving and giving, Saturday's child works hard for its living, and a child that is born on the Sabbath day is fair and wise and good and gay.[a]
  • Money does not grow on trees[a]
  • Money earned by deceit, goes by deceit[a]
  • Money is not everything[a]
  • Money makes the world go around[a]
  • Money talks[a]
  • Money makes many things, but also makes devil dance[a]
  • More haste, less speed[a]
  • Mud sticks
  • Music has charms to soothe the savage breast[a]


  • Nature abhors a vacuum[a][b]
  • Necessity is the mother of invention[a]
  • Needs must when the devil drives[a]
  • Never cast a clout until May be out[a]
  • Never reveal a man's wage, and woman's age[a]
  • Never give advice unless asked.
  • Never give a sucker an even break[a]
  • Never judge a book by its cover[a]
  • Never let the sun go down on your anger[a]
  • Never look a gift horse in the mouth[a]
  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today[a]
  • Never speak ill of the dead[a]
  • Never say never[24]
  • Never say die
  • Never tell tales out of school[a]
  • Never too old to learn.
  • Nine tailors make a man,[a][b]
  • No guts, no glory[a]
  • No man can serve two masters[a]
  • No man is an island[a]
  • No names, no pack-drill[a]
  • No news is good news[a]
  • No one can make you feel inferior without your consent[a]
  • No pain, no gain[a]
  • No rest for the wicked[a]
  • Not all those who wander are lost "All that is gold does not glitter" J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)
  • Nothing is certain but death and taxes[a]
  • Nothing succeeds like success,[a][b]
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained[a]


  • Once a(n) _, always a(n) _[a]
  • One might as well throw water into the sea as to do a kindness to rogues
  • One kind word can warm three winter months
  • One who speaks only one language is one person, but one who speaks two languages is two people. Turkish Proverb[12]
  • Oil and water do not mix[a]
  • Old soldiers never die, (they simply/just fade away). From a soldiers' folklore song, the phrase was most notably used by U.S. General Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) in his farewell address to the Congress.[a]
  • Once bitten, twice shy[a]
  • One good turn deserves another[a]
  • One half of the world does not know how the other half lives[a]
  • One hand washes the other[a]
  • One man's meat is another man's poison[a]
  • One man's trash is another man's treasure
  • One might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb[a]
  • One law for the rich and another for the poor[a]
  • One swallow does not make a summer[a]
  • One who believes in Sword, dies by the Sword[a]
  • One year's seeding makes seven years weeding[a]
  • Only fools and horses work[a]
  • Open confession is good for the soul.
  • Opportunity never knocks twice at any man's door[a]
  • Other times other manners.
  • Out of sight, out of mind[a]
  • Out of the frying pan and into the fire
  • Out of the mouths of babes (and sucklings)
  • Over greedy man, over wrathful woman will never flourish[a]


  • Parsley seed goes nine times to the Devil[a]
  • Patience is a virtue[a]
  • Pearls of wisdom[a]
  • Penny wise and pound foolish[a]
  • Penny, Penny. Makes many.
  • People who live in glass houses should not throw stones[a]
  • Physician, heal thyself[a]
  • Possession is nine-tenths of the law[a]
  • Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely[a]
  • Practice makes perfect[a]
  • Practice what you preach[a]
  • Prevention is better than cure[a]
  • Pride comes/goes before a fall (O.T.),[a][b]
  • Procrastination is the thief of time
  • Put your best foot forward[a]
  • Put your money where your mouth is[a]


  • Red sky at night shepherds delight; red sky in the morning, shepherds warning[a]
  • Respect is not given, it is earned.
  • Revenge is a dish best served cold[a]
  • Revenge is sweet[a]
  • Rome was not built in a day[a][b]
  • Right or wrong, my country[a]
  • Rules were made to be broken.


  • See a penny and pick it up, all the day you will have good luck; see a penny and let it lay, bad luck you will have all day[a]
  • See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil[a]
  • Seeing is believing[a]
  • Seek and ye shall find[a]
  • Set a thief to catch a thief[a]
  • Shiny are the distant hills[a]
  • Shrouds have no pockets[a]
  • (Speech is silver but) Silence is golden[a]
  • Slow and steady wins the race[a]
  • Slow but sure[a]
  • Softly, softly, catchee monkey[a]
  • Some are more equal than others
  • Sometimes we are the student. Sometimes we are the master. And sometimes we are merely the lesson – Jacalyn Smith[a]
  • Spare the rod and spoil the child[a]
  • Speak as you find[a]
  • Speak softly and carry a big stick[a]
  • Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me[a]
  • Still waters run deep[a]
  • Strike while the iron is hot[a]
  • Stupid is as stupid does[a]
  • Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan[a]
  • Speak of the devil and he shall/is sure/will appear
  • (A) swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly


  • Take care of the pennies, and the pounds will take care of themselves[a]
  • Talk is cheap[a]
  • Talk of the Devil, and he is bound to appear[a]
  • Tell me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are[25]
  • Tell the truth and shame the Devil (Shakespeare, Henry IV),[a][b]
  • That which does not kill us makes us stronger[a]
  • The age of miracles is past[a]
  • The apple does not fall/never falls far from the tree[a]
  • The best defence is a good offence[a]
  • The best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry[a]
  • The best things in life are free[a]
  • The bigger they are, the harder they fall[a]
  • The boy is father to the man[a]
  • The bread never falls but on its buttered side[a]
  • The child is the father of the man[a]
  • The cobbler always wears the worst shoes[a]
  • The course of true love never did run smooth[a]
  • The customer is always right[a]
  • The darkest hour is just before the dawn[a]
  • The Devil finds work for idle hands to do[a]
  • The Devil looks after his own[a]
  • The die is cast[26]
  • The early bird catches the worm[a]
  • The end justifies the means[a]
  • The enemy of my enemy is my friend
  • The exception which proves the rule[a]
  • The female of the species is more deadly than the male[a]
  • The good die young[a]
  • The grass is always greener (on the other side) (of the fence)[a]
  • The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world[a]
  • The husband is always the last to know[a]
  • The innocent seldom find an uncomfortable pillow. William Cowper, English poet (1731–1800)[27]
  • The labourer is worthy of his hire[a]
  • The law is an ass. From English writer Charles Dickens' novel Oliver Twist
  • The leopard does not change his spots[a]
  • The light is on but nobody is home
  • The longest day must have an end[b]
  • The longest journey starts with a single step[a]
  • The moon is made of green cheese
  • The more the merrier[a]
  • The more things change, the more they stay the same[a]
  • The only disability in life is a bad attitude. Scott Hamilton
  • The only way to understand a woman is to love her[a]
  • The pen is mightier than the sword[a]
  • The pot calling the kettle black
  • The proof of the pudding is in the eating[a]
  • The road to Hell is paved with good intentions[a]
  • The shoemaker's son always goes barefoot[a]
  • The squeaky wheel gets the grease[a]
  • The streets are paved with gold
  • The straw that broke the camel's back[a]
  • The way to a man's heart is through his stomach[a]
  • The work praises the man.
  • The worm will turn
  • There ain't no such thing as a free lunch
  • There are more ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream[a]
  • There are none so blind as those who will not see[a] — attributed variously to Edmund Burke or George Santayana
  • There are two sides to every question[a]
  • There but for the grace of God go I[a]
  • There is an exception to every rule[a]
  • There are always more fish in the sea[a]
  • There is honour among thieves[a]
  • There is many a good tune played on an old fiddle[a]
  • There is many a slip 'twixt cup and lip[a]
  • There is more than one way to skin a cat[a]
  • There is no accounting for tastes[a]
  • There is no fool like an old fool[a]
  • There is no place like home[a]
  • There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out.
  • There is no smoke without fire/Where there is smoke, there is fire[a]
  • There is no such thing as a free lunch[a]
  • There is no such thing as bad publicity[a]
  • There is no time like the present[a]
  • There are none so deaf as those who will not hear[a]
  • There is nowt so queer as folk[a]
  • There is one born every minute[a]
  • There is safety in numbers[a]
  • They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind[a]
  • Third time is a charm[a]
  • Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it[a]
  • Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones[a]
  • Those who know many languages live as many lives as the languages they know. Czech proverb[12]
  • Those who sleep with dogs will rise with fleas[a]
  • Time and tide wait for no man[a]
  • Time flies[a]
  • Time is a great healer[a]
  • Time is money[a]
  • (Only) time will tell[a]
  • 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all[a]
  • To be worn out is to be renewed. Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher (604 BC – c. 531 BC)[17]
  • To each his own.
  • To err is human, to forgive divine[a]
  • To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world. Chinese proverb[12]
  • To the victor go the spoils[a]
  • To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive[a]
  • Tomorrow is another day[a]
  • Tomorrow never comes[a]
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth[a]
  • Too little, too late
  • Too much of a good thing
  • Truth is stranger than fiction[a]
  • Truth is more valuable if it takes you a few years to find it. Often attributed to French author Jules Renard (1864–1910)
  • (The) truth will out[a]
  • Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows fall behind you.
  • Two can play at that game
  • Two heads are better than one[a]
  • Two is company, but three is a crowd,[a][b]
  • Two wrongs (do not) make a right[a]


  • Variety is the spice of life. William Cowper, English poet (1731–1800)[28]
  • Virtue is its own reward


  • Walk softly but carry a big stick. 26th U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, 1900 in letter relating an old African proverb[29]
  • Walls have ears
  • Walnuts and pears you plant for your heirs[a]
  • Waste not, want not[a]
  • Well begun is half done
  • Well done is better than well said.
  • What cannot be cured must be endured[a]
  • What goes around, comes around
  • What goes up must come down[a]
  • What you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts[a]
  • What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander[a]
  • What the eye does not see (the heart does not grieve over.)
  • When in Rome, (do as the Romans do). St. Ambrose 347AD[30]
  • Whatever floats your boat
  • When it rains it pours.
  • When life gives you lemons, make lemonade[a][31]
  • When the cat is away, the mice will play[a]
  • When the going gets tough, the tough get going[a]
  • When the oak is before the ash, then you will only get a splash; when the ash is before the oak, then you may expect a soak[a]
  • When three women gather, it becomes noisy.
  • When you have seen one, you have seen them all
  • What is learnt in the cradle lasts to the tombs.
  • What the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve over[a]
  • Where there is a will there is a way[a]
  • Where there is muck there is brass[a]
  • Where there is life there is hope.
  • Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.[a]
  • While there is life there is hope[a]
  • Who will bell the cat?
  • Whom the Gods love die young[a]
  • Why keep a dog and bark yourself?[a]
  • With great responsibility comes great power
  • Woman is the root of both good and evil[a]
  • Wonders will never cease[a]
  • Work expands so as to fill the time available[a]
  • Worrying never did anyone any good[a]


  • You are never too old to learn[a]
  • You are what you eat[a]
  • You can have too much of a good thing[a]
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink[a]
  • You can never/never can tell
  • You cannot always get what you want
  • You cannot have your cake and eat it too[a]
  • You cannot get blood out of a stone[a]
  • You cannot make a silk purse from a sow's ear[a]
  • You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs[a]
  • You cannot make bricks without straw[a]
  • You cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hounds[a]
  • (You cannot) teach an old dog new tricks[a]
  • You cannot win them all[a]
  • You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar[a]
  • You pay your money and you take your choice[a]
  • Youth is wasted on the young[a]
  • You may/might as well be hanged/hung for a sheep as (for) a lamb
  • You must have rocks in your head[a]
  • You scratch my back and I will scratch yours
  • You've got to separate the wheat from the chaff[a]
  • You've made your bed and you must lie in/on it


  • Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.


  1. "Meanings and Origins of Phrases, Sayings and Idioms". Gary Martin. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  2. Benham, W. Gurney (1926). Putnam's Complete Book of Quotations, Proverbs, and Household Words. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.


  1. ^ "World of Quotes-Proverbs". Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  2. ^ Hazlitt, William Carew (1907). English proverbs and proverbial phrases (PDF). London: Reeves and Turner.
  3. ^ Ray, John (1768). A compleat collection of English proverbs (PDF). London: W. Otridge, S. Bladon.
  4. ^ Mariette, Alphonse (1896). French and English Idioms and Proverbs with Critical and Historical Notes (PDF). Paris: Hachette et cie.
  5. ^ Bohn, Henry G. (1899). A hand-book of proverbs: comprising an entire republication of Ray's Collection of English Proverbs (PDF). London: George Bell and Sons.
  6. ^ Strauss, Emanuel (1997). Concise Dictionary of English Proverbs. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-16050-2.
  7. ^ Apperson, G.L. (1929). English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases: An Historical Dictionary. London: J.M. Dent and Sons.
  8. ^ "Proverbial Phrases from California", by Owen S. Adams, Western Folklore, Vol. 8, No. 2 (1949), pp. 95-116 doi:10.2307/1497581
  9. ^ Arvo Krikmann "the Great Chain Metaphor: An Open Sezame for Proverb Semantics?", Proverbium:Yearbook of International Scholarship, 11 (1994), pp. 117-124.
  10. ^ Ray, John (1768). A compleat collection of English proverbs (PDF). London: W. Otridge, S. Bladon. pp. xi–xii.
  11. ^ Martin, Gary. "'A fool and his money are soon parted' - the meaning and origin of this phrase". Phrasefinder. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  12. ^ a b c d e "Top Ten Best Proverbs About Language Learning". Lingholic. 9 June 2014.
  13. ^ Edward, John Emerich (1949). Dalberg-Acton-Essays on Freedom and Power. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 364.
  14. ^ "Napoleon's Maxims & Quotes-Napoleon on War". Retrieved 9 April 2010.
  15. ^ "Where Does the Expression "Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts" Come From?". Retrieved 8 April 2010.
  16. ^ Martin, Gary. "Curiosity killed the cat". The Phrase Finder. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  17. ^ a b c d "Quotations by Lao Tzu". Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  18. ^ "Sayings of Wilson Mizner". Retrieved 8 April 2010.
  19. ^ Cite error: The named reference MyanmarProverbs was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  20. ^ "Keep your chin up". Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  21. ^ "Oliver's Advice (Barossa)". Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  22. ^ Soniak, Matt (12 July 2012). "What's the Origin of "Let the Cat out of the Bag"?". Mental Floss.
  23. ^ 1 Timothy 6:10
  24. ^ "Charles Dickens Pickwick Papers". Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  25. ^ World of Quotes Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  26. ^ Martin, Gary. "'The die has been cast' - the meaning and origin of this phrase". Phrasefinder. Retrieved 27 June 2017.
  27. ^ "The innocent seldom find an uncomfortable pillow". Retrieved 6 April 2010.
  28. ^ "William Cowper Quotes". Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  29. ^ "Speak Softly. ." Library of Congress. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
  30. ^ "When in Rome..." Retrieved 8 April 2010.
  31. ^ Hubbard, Elbert (1922). Selected Writings of Elbert Hubbard. V. Wm. H. Wise & Co./The Roycrofters. p. 237. Archived from the original on 8 September 2012.

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