A simple truth that expresses an idea or fact.

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2
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1answer
54 views

English folk saying or proverb involving the number four (of people)?

We have: "it takes two to tango", "two is company; three is a crowd", etc... Are there any similar sayings that refer to four people?
1
vote
1answer
29 views

Good Things Come In Threes - has a definite positive connotation.

From fairytales to hollywood blockbusters, “the rule of three” (Latin-"omne trium perfectum") principle suggests things that come in threes are inherently more humorous, satisfying and effective ...
6
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7answers
24k 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.
3
votes
4answers
842 views

What does “There’s less to the deal than meets the eye,” mean?

There was the following passage in New Yorker’s (November 18) article that came under the title, ”Is China really going green?”: “But here was President Xi Jinping pledging that, by 2030, his ...
0
votes
3answers
51 views

Correct proverbial anecdote for: To fix a bucket, I need a bucket

An proverbial anecdote I've heard for a problem solving deadlock is something along the lines of: A farmer needs to fix a bucket, which requires this, that then requires that and so on and so ...
21
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16answers
4k views

Is there English proverb or saying equivalent to Chinese / Japanese common proverb 李下に冠を正さず- Don’t touch (redress) your coronet under the plum tree?

Recently I made an inadvertent mistake, which reminded me a familiar Japanese proverb to admonish us to stay away from situation and the likelihood to be suspected as a rule-offender. It is a set of ...
1
vote
1answer
64 views

Is the expression “having a kitten in one's pocket” a proverb or slang?

Is the phrase, from ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ by Alexander Baron having one's kitten in one's pocket a proverb or common slang? How common is this expression? What exactly does it mean and how ...
20
votes
12answers
2k views

Are there any English sayings equivalent to the Japanese proverb, “Go to bed early and wait for the good news”?

When politicians are waiting for the results in a Primary election, your son is waiting for admission to Harvard, an entrepreneur is waiting the bank’s approval for a financial loan, everyone frets ...
2
votes
2answers
142 views

Is this expression a well-established proverb or just a slight variation of a well-established one?

I'm referring to this one: Any man who is his own translator has a fool for an editor. The resemblance that this expression bears to the one about any individual who chooses to represent ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

What does “God sends meat and devil sends cooks” mean?

What does the quote God sends meat and devil sends cooks by Thomas Deloney mean? And if it doesn't have a specific meaning, in which situation can I use it?
2
votes
3answers
457 views

English proverb or saying on “you can't have too many friends”

I'm curious if there's an English proverb or saying that has the meaning "you can't have too many friends". The matter is, we have such a saying in Russian ("Друзей много не бывает"). In other words, ...
42
votes
12answers
6k views

What is the English equivalent to the Chinese/Japanese saying, “塞翁失馬— The life is like Old Sai’s horse”?

Dr. Shinya Yamanaka, 2012 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine, the initiator of all-around (iPS) cells told a recently-held public symposium, quote: “I’m often asked by many people: ‘You ...
2
votes
5answers
234 views

Is there an English equivalent of this common Maldivian Proverb meaning “to do something carelessly or perfunctorily”?

The proverb is "Amaa buneethee fara-h dhiy-un" which basically translates to "To walk along the shore (the point of which is to collect cowrie shells which were used as currency among seafarers and ...
4
votes
5answers
17k 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 ?
0
votes
0answers
28 views

Is there a saying/aphorism/proverb for the following

Is there a saying or proverb for when a person or group of people act politely and with respect towards a certain member of a group in front of a person of respect or elder, and then acts with ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Who is the author of “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”?

I would like to know more about the proverb Absence makes the heart grow fonder. History notes The history of the proverb is proving quite interesting. In his literary work from 1650, Epistolae ...
7
votes
3answers
12k views

“Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco”

Is this a proverb? What does it mean and what is the origin?
4
votes
3answers
996 views

Did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle coin the proverb “A change is as good as a rest”?

The proverb a change is as good as a rest is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as: A change of work or occupation can be as restorative or refreshing as a period of relaxation Cambridge ...
2
votes
1answer
163 views

What does “all words are pegs to hang ideas on” mean?

I have searched for this quote's meaning by Henry Ward Beeccher on the internet, but couldn't find the meaning. What does all words are pegs to hang ideas on means?
3
votes
1answer
80 views

What is the Proverb or Quotation?

Is there a proverb or quote in English that has similarity with this one: "If the big two ox fight then the rubble gets the brunt." This is a Maldivian idiom that explains how juniors get ...
2
votes
4answers
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 ...
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votes
2answers
51 views

Grammar in proverbs

"Tomorrow come never" I have seen it in a dictionary of English idioms. Not "never comes", not "will never come". I am confused. "Tomorrow come never" - is it correct?
3
votes
1answer
196 views

Meaning and use of phrase “proverbial bucket”

I can't understand the meaning of the following sentence and need a short description of the content with an example: The proverbial bucket has not been constructed that would carry my pitiful ...
6
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
16
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3answers
105k views
3
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2answers
131 views

“Made a rhyme without effort” in English from Spanish “Hice verso sin esfuerzo”

In Spanish we can say "Hice verso sin esfuerzo", which means something along the lines of "I made a rhyme without effort", whilst rhyming. What would be an English equivalent of this phrase? I've ...
4
votes
4answers
14k 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?
6
votes
4answers
427 views

Responding to a poor question

There's a proverb in my native language (Norwegian) which is used as a reply to a person who complains about a poor answer given to his/her poor question. It says that the quality of the answer is ...
3
votes
1answer
183 views

Standard English proverb for “When you see a useful resource, you feel lazy to work.”

What would be the standard English proverb for something like this: Your leg starts to ache when you see a horse. OR When you see a useful resource/means, you feel lazy to do the job/work. EDIT: ...
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 ...
6
votes
7answers
1k views

Meaning of “Butter is Gold in the Morning, Silver at Noon, and Lead at Night.”

In his book A Complete Collection of Scottish Proverbs: Explain'd and Made Intelligible to the English (1721), James Kelly offers this interesting saying (page 74, #138): "Butter is Gold in the ...
20
votes
9answers
4k views

Are there English equivalents to a Japanese old saying, “Be the mouth of cock rather than remaining as the tail of ox”?

Every time I hear about the success story of entrepreneurs such as IT business, not to mention Apple, Microsoft, and Soft Bank founders, an old Japanese saying, 鶏口となるとも牛後となる勿れ‐“(Choose to) be the ...
3
votes
1answer
22k 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
560 views

English idiom related to time

I wonder what is the English idiom with the following meaning. "There are two opinions and only time could decide what is true". It should be something like "survive time's exam" or something like ...
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 ...
3
votes
7answers
374 views

A proverb to denote the importance of talking and acting in showing your abilities

There is a proverb in Persian which says: تا مرد سخن نگفته باشد عیب و هنرش نهفته باشه This proverb literally translated means: One's skills and weaknesses won't be seen, unless one talks. ...
1
vote
2answers
657 views

What does “Don’t squat with your spurs on” mean?

My friend e-mailed me a couple days ago a dozen of cowboys’ proverbs included in the book titled, “Don’t squat with your spurs on” by Texas Bix Bender. Though I presume this proverb (Don’t squat ...
12
votes
5answers
6k 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: ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Can “the chickens have come home to roost” have positive as well as negative connotations?

In answering a recent EL&U question (Idiom for the phrase "someone who gets what he deserved"), I cited the phrase "The chickens have come home to roost," and said that it "applies ...
7
votes
4answers
324 views

Ne'er cast a clout till May be out. Meaning?

Today across southern England, it was one of those glorious May mornings of which the poets wrote. The darling buds in bloom, the scent of the blossom hanging like nectar in the air, and the sun up in ...
1
vote
3answers
106 views

proverb means Consider me as you want you will find me as you consider

alot of companies expect effective performance. Nevertheless, it considers its employees as they are beginners (salary, ....). He want to say: if you consider me as a Junior , you find me a ...
1
vote
3answers
169 views

How come “enemy mine” be a short version of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”?

I have found at several places (e.g., here) that Enemy mine is a short version for the proverb: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. This makes little sense to me, as the essence of the ...
0
votes
1answer
81 views

“The omelette is already cooked”?

Today I saw a proverb introduced in a book. The writer said, " "The omelette is already cooked"means it is too late to change what has already been done. I think the phrase is similar to "there is no ...
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 ...
0
votes
2answers
110 views

Only a waning candle sheds its light around

I found above mentioned sentence in a article is it some proverb? What does this mean? Below I am copying paragraph where I found this. May be this would be helpful to answer. Only a waning candle ...
2
votes
3answers
335 views

correct idiom for if you were me

I am looking for an idiom that can be used for this like "if you were me you would have done the same thing " OR something like empathy , think from my sight, is there any idiom for such scenerio? I ...
12
votes
7answers
106k 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?
18
votes
8answers
7k views

The logic behind “better safe than sorry”

It struck me that the phrase "better safe than sorry" is somewhat illogical, or perhaps more accurately, it is so logical and obvious that it seems to carry no meaning at all. My problem with this ...
1
vote
2answers
325 views

Repeat vs Repetition - are they exactly the same?

Can the proverb "Repetition is the mother of studies" be replaced by "Repeat is the mother of studies"? Repeat can also be used as a noun, and according to many dictionaries, both repeat and ...
1
vote
2answers
148 views

How should I understand “He was a wise man who invented beer”?

I love beer, and I recently saw a magnet with this phrase on it: He was a wise man who invented beer My knowledge in English is limited, and I'm not sure if I understand correctly this phrase. ...