A simple truth that expresses an idea or fact.

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8
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2answers
656 views

What is the similar meaning proverb in English?

We have a proverb in Bengali, if I translate it directly into English, it emerges as: Who is in there in the temple? I did not eat the banana! Meaning in the temple banana is used for prayer to ...
3
votes
5answers
273 views

Few lawyers die well, few physicians live well

What is the meaning of the proverb "Few lawyers die well, few physicians live well"? I think "few physicians live well" has to do with the fact that the salary of physicians was once very low, but ...
18
votes
6answers
3k views

Time and tide wait for no man

In the old proverb: Time and tide wait for no man. Our first record of the proverb is from St Marher in 1225: And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet. When it was ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Idiom for opportunistically exploiting a situation to one's advantage

I was wondering what various figures of speech could be used to describe a situation where somebody exploits a situation in order to push their own agenda. For example in Persian we have 'Catching a ...
0
votes
1answer
563 views

Explanation of the proverb “Beauty is only skin deep…” [closed]

Can someone help me understand the following proverb? beauty is only skin deep but ugliness cuts clean through to the bone I know it means something like true beauty is on the inside, but I want ...
1
vote
1answer
387 views

Proverb about the origin of the English language [closed]

Is there a nice proverb that highlights the foreign (e.g. German and French) origins of the English language? I remember that I've once read something like English is the bastard child of a ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

“Nobody does something for nothing”

I have a proverb in my native tongue saying something like "there is no cat chasing fish for God" which implies that anyone who does anything that may seem beneficial to you, is doing it for ...
2
votes
1answer
403 views

“Disappointment is the nurse of wisdom.”

Is this an English proverb? On quotations websites, it is often attributed to Sir Boyle Roche, but it is not listed on WikiQuote (I added it to the list of unsourced quotes on the discussion page). ...
6
votes
2answers
61k views

Origin of “do not argue with idiots” [closed]

What is the origin of the phrase “do not argue with idiots”? Please cite some credible references. From googling around, I found these three variations. One came from the Bible but I couldn’t find ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

Proverb: “have fate without destiny”

I was looking for an English equivalent of the Chinese proverb (有缘无分) which describes couples who meet but who do not for whatever reason stay together. My friend (native speaker, no Chinese ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

Is “life is hard without jam” in use?

I am looking for a translation of the French "la vie est dure sans confiture". Babel Fish gives me "life is hard without jam". But I am not sure whether this phrase is really in use. Are there ...
12
votes
5answers
5k views

Is there honour among thieves or not?

I'm not sure which one of these apparently flatly contradictory proverbs I heard first but I have definitely heard both several times. One of them is: There is honour among thieves. Another is: ...
4
votes
3answers
12k views

What's the difference between a proverb and an idiom?

I think I have a notion what is what but maybe you know a good definition what is what? For example "Hindsight is always 20:20" — is that a proverb or an idiom?
2
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “separated at birth” mean?

Sometimes, you come across someone saying something (usually tongue-in-cheek), which might go like this: Tom: I really love eating noodles while watching Star Trek. Linda: Wow, I do exactly the ...
20
votes
12answers
11k views

Proverb or expression for a situation with two choices, both leading to a different kind of trouble

I'm searching for a proverb or expression that describes a situation which has two choices or two ways out (that is, somewhat of a forced choice) where both lead to some kind of trouble (but not the ...
8
votes
8answers
4k views

Proverb or expression for someone taking on too much

What is an appropriate proverb or expression that means one has: Taken on too many tasks Set out to do something that one isn't qualified to do and hence probably will fail Set out to do something ...
5
votes
1answer
890 views

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

A recent question on Skeptics SE, brought up an interesting debate on the origin of this proverb. Particularly, in the comments to this answer we were wondering whether apple really refers to the ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

What construction does ‘A wise man is never less alone than when alone’ have?

I think this proverb roughly means that a wise man isn’t lonely even if he is without company. However, when considering its construction, my understanding is starting to get shaky. Let me explain ...
3
votes
3answers
7k views

What does “Way out of a paper bag” mean?

What do they mean when they say "He can't find himself way out of paper bag?" Or "Couldn't manage himself out of paper bag?" Also what is the history of this statement? What is the origin?
7
votes
2answers
87k views

Can someone explain the phrase “All is fair in love and war”?

What are its origins and what does it really mean?
3
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is “xxxx doth not a yyyy make” considered valid English?

Reading doth not a writer make. This sounds all wrong so why it is acceptable to use? The word order looks to be all out sequence (Object-Subject-Verb). It should be "reading does not make you a ...
6
votes
6answers
21k views

What is the meaning of “Many a mickle makes a muckle”?

I've heard this phrase, and don't know what a "mickle" or a "muckle" is. Hence I have no idea at all what the phrase itself is supposed to mean.
10
votes
7answers
79k views

Don't look a gift-horse in the mouth

Don't look a gift-horse in the mouth. What is a gift-horse? Why shouldn't you look in its mouth? What does this idiom actually mean and how is it used?
8
votes
5answers
991 views

Is there a saying in English corresponding to “Another loach under the willow tree”?

In Japanese there's a saying "another loach" in the short form, "look for another loach under the same willow tree" in the long form. This saying is for ridiculing a person who blindly repeats what ...
4
votes
4answers
14k views

Origin of the phrase “third time's the charm” / “third time lucky”?

What would the origin of the saying "Third time's the charm" ? I've also heard it used as "third time lucky" ....Does anyone know if they are related ?
4
votes
3answers
1k views

How to use “It ain't over till the fat lady sings”?

I know the meaning of this phrase: One should not assume the outcome of some activity (e.g. a sports game) until it has actually finished. I'm curious as to whether it would more likely be used when ...
4
votes
1answer
16k views

When is “no rest for the wicked” used?

I've stumbled over some dialogue in a textbook, where some people have a chat at work, and at the end, when they get back to their urgent tasks, one character says (emph. mine): Well, I'd better ...
6
votes
13answers
2k views

Are there any English sayings to the effect that little changes may lead to big changes?

Can you think of any sayings about change, especially ones expressing how a big change must begin with a little change? how certain institutions, ideas, or God remain eternally unchanged? Note: ...