Proverbs

A proverb is a short saying that’s used to convey wisdom or advice. It is widely known within a specific culture or community. Explore the different proverbs in the English language below.

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  • a

  • A bad workman blames his tools
    “A bad workman blames his tools” is used when someone wants to remind another that they shouldn’t blame their tools for their mistakes. Instead, they should take responsibility for whatever they’ve done wrong.
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
    "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" suggests that it’s better to have a certain advantage than the possibility of an advantage.
  • A penny saved is a penny earned
    "A penny saved is a penny earned" is a clever way of suggesting that even the smallest savings can add up when one is in financial need.
  • A stitch in time saves nine
    “A stitch in time saves nine” is an English proverb. It describes the benefits of working hard now in order to save time later. 
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away
    “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” suggests that eating one apple everyday is going to prevent someone from having to go to the doctor.
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
     
  • b

  • Better late than never
    “Better late than never” is an English proverb. It suggests that its good something happened at all, even if it’s late than never occurring. 
  • c

  • Curiosity killed the cat
    “Curiosity killed the cat” is an English proverb. It describes the dangers of being too curious.
  • d

  • Do unto others as you would have done unto you
    “Do unto others as you would have do unto you” asks everyone to treat those around them as they would like to be treated.
  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket
    "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" is an idiom that means “don’t risk everything by committing to one plan or idea”.
  • e

  • Every cloud has a silver lining
    “Every cloud has a silver lining” is an English-language proverb that’s used to convey a feeling of optimism even if a situation seems dark and without hope.
  • f

  • Fortune favors the bold
    “Fortune favors the bold” is a proverb that encourages one to push the limits of what they can do. The more risky, the more likely it is to succeed. 
  • g

  • Good things come to those who wait
    “Good things come to those who wait” is an English proverb. It’s used to describe the benefits of waiting patiently rather than rushing into something.
  • i

  • It ain’t over till the fat lady sings
    "It ain't over till the fat lady sings" refers to the moment in which something is truly over or decided.
  • It’s always darkest before the dawn
    “It’s always darkest before the dawn” is a famous proverb that dates back to at least 1650. It’s used to suggest that one needs to preserve through hard times.
  • l

  • Let sleeping dogs lie
    "Let sleeping dogs lie” is a reminder not to bring unnecessary risk or danger upon oneself.
  • Look before you leap
    “Look before you leap” is a common English proverb. It’s used to remind someone to take their time before making a decision. 
  • n

  • No pain, no gain
    "No pain, no gain" is used to describe the suffering that's necessary in order to achieve one's goals.
  • s

  • Slow and steady wins the race
    “Slow and steady wins the race” is a proverb that suggests one is better off being methodical than rushing into something unprepared.
  • So far so good
    "So far so good” is a commonly used proverb that describes how things are progressing. In this case, everything is good so far. 
  • t

  • The devil is in the details
    “The devil is in the details” is an English proverb that’s used to remind someone to pay attention to the details. 
  • The early bird gets the worm
    “The early bird gets the worm” is an English proverb that dates back to the early 1600s. It refers to the advantage one has when they get started on something quickly, before anyone else.
  • There are other fish in the sea
    “There are other fish in the sea” is a common English proverb that describes the vast number of potential partners one has available to them.
  • Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones
    “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is used to remind people not to criticize others for a flaw that you yourself possess.
  • w

  • Waste not, want not
    “Waste not, want not” asks everyone to pay attention to what they “waste” as that waste might lead to “want.”
  • y

  • You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar
    “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” refers to one's ability to succeed with sweetness over cruelty or unpleasantness.
  • You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink
    “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” is an ancient English proverb used to refer to the stubbornness of human beings.
  • You can't have your cake and eat it too
    "You can’t have your cake and eat it too” is an English proverb that is used to remind someone that they have to make a decision and that decision is going to result in something negative.