English Proverbs & Sayings (1) 7

  • What is a Proverb?

A proverb (from the Latin proverbium), also called a byword or nayword, is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim. If a proverb is distinguished by particularly good phrasing, it may be known as an aphorism.

Proverbs are often borrowed from similar languages and cultures, and sometimes come down to the present through more than one language. Both the Bible (Book of Proverbs) and medieval Latin have played a considerable role in distributing proverbs across Europe, although almost every culture has examples of its own.

Here are the most common American & British proverbs and sayings which use in native English speakers’ daily conversations.

Between the devil and the deep sea:

To choose between two equally bad alternatives in a serious dilemma.

Where there’s a will there’s a way:

When a person really wants to do something, he will find a way of doing it.

A burnt child dreads fire:

A bad experience or a horrifying incident may scar one’s attitude or thinking for a lifetime.

First come, first served:

The first in line will be attended to first.

A friend in need is a friend indeed:

A friend who helps when one is in trouble is a real friend.

Discretion is the better part of valor:

If you say discretion is the better part of valor, you mean that avoiding a dangerous or unpleasant situation is sometimes the most sensible thing to do.


A hungry man is an angry man:

A person who does not get what he wants or needs is a frustrated person and will be easily provoked to rage.

Empty vessels make the most noise:

Those people who have a little knowledge usually talk the most and make the greatest fuss.

A man is as old as he feels:

A person’s age is immaterial – it is only when he thinks and feels that he is ageing that he actually becomes old.

Great talkers are little doers:

Those people who talk a lot and are always teaching others usually do not do much work.

An idle brain is the devil’s workshop:

One who has nothing to do will be tempted to do many mischievous acts.

An ounce of discretion is worth a pound of wit:

It is better to be careful and discrete than to be clever.

Faint heart never won fair lady:

To succeed in life one must have the courage to pursue what he wants.

A penny saved is a penny gained:

By being thrifty one will be able to save up.

A rolling stone gathers no moss:

A person who never settles in one place or who often changes his job will not succeed in life ; one who is always changing his mind will never get anything done.

As you sow, so you shall reap:

One will either enjoy or suffer the consequences of his earlier actions or inactions.

Barking dogs seldom bite:

Those who make loud threats seldom carry them out.

Better late than never:

To do something that is right, profitable, or good a little late is still better than not doing it at all.a_bird_in_the_hand_is_worth_two_in_the_bush

A bird in hand is worth two in the bush:

Something that one already has is better than going after something seemingly more worthwhile that one may not be able to get.

Birds of a feather flock together:

People of the same sort of character or belief always go together.

Call a spade a spade:

If you say that someone calls a spade a spade, you mean that they speak frankly and directly, often about embarrassing or unpleasant subjects; an informal expression.

Charity begins at home :

A person’s first obligation should be to help the member of his own family before he can begin thinking of talking about helping others.

Dead men tell no lies:

(Often used as an argument for killing someone whose knowledge of a secret may cause one loss or get into serious trouble.)

A great talker is a great liar:

A smooth and persuasive talker may be a good liar.

Every cloud has a silver lining:

If you say that every cloud has a silver lining, you mean that every sad or unpleasant situation has a positive side to it. If you talk about silver lining you are talking about something positive
that comes out of a sad or unpleasant situation.

7 thoughts on “English Proverbs & Sayings (1)

  1. adam smile Feb 24,2010 2:43 am

    thanx fr your worthy provernbs and illustrations ……………..really they re useful and we need them a lot …………………………….

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  3. mary Jan 24,2011 11:05 am

    Could u plz tell me what does “good walls make good neighbors” mean? thanks a lot

  4. mary Jan 24,2011 11:14 am

    I got it right now anyway thank u

  5. gehad Jul 12,2011 6:04 pm

    can you please tell me what does “laugh and the worlds laughs with you , weep and you weep alone” mean?  thanks very much 🙂

  6. Nahed Mar 20,2012 1:24 pm

    thanks for the article

  7. Tatiana Jun 28,2012 3:56 pm

    I like it very much! Thanks a lot. 😛

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