A simple truth that expresses an idea or fact.

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Is there a set phrase for being polite to a person only when they are present?

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 ...
46
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14answers
7k views

What is the English equivalent to the Chinese/Japanese saying, “塞翁失馬— 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 ...
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15answers
5k views

Are there English equivalents for “as beautiful as butt inside out”?

There is an old saying in Ukrainian folklore, which literally sounds like “[someone is] as beautiful as ass inside out” (“Гарна як срака навиворіт”). It is used when one wants to point a person's ...
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9answers
4k views

Are there English figurative expressions equivalent to Japanese idiom 馬耳東風 meaning a person who doesn’t listen to other’s advice?

North wind tells the arrival of spring season in Japan. And incidentally, we have an idiom, “馬耳東風,” of which literal translation is ‘the east wind to the ears of horse,’ meaning a person who doesn’t ...
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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 ...
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6answers
5k 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 ...
2
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3answers
70 views

Is “Heaven and hell both reside in the details” a well-received English saying?

There is the following passage in the contribution written by Ehud Barak, the former Prime Minister of Israel under the title, “Iran Has Escaped a Noose.” in Time magazine April 2nd issue: “The ...
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3answers
37 views

Proverb to explain the given situation

I am giving a competitive exam. During my exams my brother got ill, so all my family members went to the hospital in order to examine my brother. Home alone, I learn that they will not return for two ...
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3answers
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?
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2answers
330 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?
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8answers
2k 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 ...
5
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1answer
121 views

What does wishbone mean in this Robert Frost quote?

What does the word wishbone mean in the following Robert Frost quotation? Also what is the message conveyed by the quote? Thanks! "A person will sometimes devote all his life to the development ...
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4answers
267 views

Source and meaning of the proverb “Milk says to wine, Welcome friend”

While investigating an unrelated expression, I came across the following proverb in George Herbert, Jacula Prudentum ; or Outlandish Proverbs, Sentences, Etc., second edition (1651): Milk says to ...
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5answers
88 views

Proverb about how sometimes you get two of something you'd rather get one of, and sooner than later

I'm looking for a proverb to describe this situation: You break up with a girl and months elapse without you dating anyone, not for lack of trying. Suddenly, you meet someone and hit it off. ...
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7answers
27k 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.
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8answers
825 views

Proverb for Someone will work, but another will get the benefit

Can you suggest what would be a good proverb for "Someone will work, but another will get the result"? Like for the situation when one person does the hard work, but some other reaps the benefits. ...
3
votes
3answers
84 views

An expression that is the opposite of Mortons's fork

Morton's fork is a situation where all outcomes are unpleasant. Is there an expression or term that describes a similar situation, but instead all outcomes are pleasurable/beneficial except only one ...
16
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3answers
126k views
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4answers
314 views

Idiom or proverb for a thing you are trying hard to find

For example, this idiom is a thing that I'm trying hard to find. It satisfies itself in this situation. The only result I get when I google is "needle in a haystack", but I don't need it because that ...
0
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4answers
115 views

The term “proverbial”, tense mismatch, other grammatical problems

I made an unwittingly controversial remark in a recent draft of an intra-company technical document. I wrote, regarding my acceptance of an exceedingly challenging software engineering task: Like the ...
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6answers
21k views

Origin of the phrases “third time’s the charm” and “third time lucky”?

What would the origin of the saying “Third time’s the charm”? I’ve also heard “third time lucky” used as well. Are these two expressions related to each other?
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4answers
4k 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 ...
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4answers
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English proverb for when a solution comes too late

In Flemish we have a saying "Vijgen na pasen". Translated: "figs after Easter". It means a solution comes too late to be of any use. What is the English equivalent for this? Some googling gives me ...
43
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21answers
7k views

Is there a saying or proverb for a situation where the weakest party will always lose?

Context - One might use it in the following situations: "An employee has an argument with her boss and a dispute follows." (she gets fired a few weeks later) "A student having an argument with his ...
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5answers
3k views

What method of counting puts Twelfth Night on January 6th?

I know English has (or at least had) some strange usages of eve and night, but I still can’t figure out how December 25th and 12 can be combined to come up with January 6th. (This stems from my ...
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5answers
180 views

A proverb or idiom in English for people who pick up a new language very quickly

There's a proverb in my language which goes like --he/she spent just one night with the hen and ended up clucking the following morning. This saying can be used either positively or negatively. I'm ...
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1answer
59 views

Is there a saying or proverb for a situation where the weakest party will always lose? [duplicate]

Yes this a repeat of a previous question, but I could not figure out how to post this answer, so I shall try to re-ask the question and answer it myself: THE HISTORY OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR By ...
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5answers
5k views

What does “If she smokes, she pokes” exactly mean?

What does part she pokes of phrase If she smokes, she pokes exactly mean?
2
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1answer
197 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?
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1answer
1k 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 ...
3
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4answers
1k 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 ...
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3answers
80 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 ...
1
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1answer
123 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 ...
21
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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
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2answers
171 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 ...
2
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3answers
803 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, ...
2
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5answers
277 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 ...
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4answers
4k 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 ...
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3answers
17k views

“Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco”

Is this a proverb? What does it mean and what is the origin?
4
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3answers
2k 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 ...
3
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1answer
158 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
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4answers
3k 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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2answers
110 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
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1answer
337 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 ...
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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 ...
3
votes
2answers
168 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
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3answers
16k 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?
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4answers
456 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
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1answer
218 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
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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 ...