Tag Info

Hot answers tagged

89

The house always wins is a proverb that comes out of gambling, where the house, the people running the gambling establishment, are setting up the rules so that they themselves are favored.


57

The most common English phrase for this is between a rock and a hard place. It means: In difficulty, faced with a choice between two unsatisfactory options. Specifically, to say you are caught between a rock and a hard place means that you are in a dilemma. The exact dilemma seems to be exactly what you're describing--Morton's fork, which is: a ...


48

Life is swings and roundabouts This is a shortened version of the fairground proverb 'What you lose on the swings you win on the roundabouts', current from the beginning of the twentieth century in various forms. It is used to mean that things will balance out in the end. Source: Penguin Dictionary of Cliches (British & Australian) also what ...


47

We do have an expression, "in one ear and out the other" His boss's admonition went in one ear and out the other and he was fired. One could also say, "His boss's admonition fell on deaf ears.


44

The following comes to mind: Better to be a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big pond. Although for 鶏口となるも牛後となるなかれ, http://kotowaza-allguide.com/ke/keikoutonarumo.html gives the following, which I personally had never heard: Better be the head of a dog than the tail of a lion. Better be first in a village than second at ...


42

There's an English proverb that seems to cover this situation (ironically or otherwise), namely: Might is right which also exists as Might makes right The explanation plus example at thefreedictionary.com reads as follows: The belief that you can do what you want because you are the most powerful person or country: To allow this ...


40

I would think the idiom we are looking for is closer to Provide him with a fighting chance or a level playing field As for the Don't kick a man... I would contest that the rival in the narrative might not have been down, just lacking salt... I think the saying reflects something earlier than when the enemy is down (but could possibly also be used in that ...


40

As Marc pointed out in his answer, there is an Australian version, although his wording is much more proper than I would expect from us Aussies. I have always heard it expressed as "Tall poppies get cut short". Also, check out Tall Poppy Syndrome.


37

Try 'One door closes, another opens'. Doors tend to play an important part in western opportunity metaphor. Is the door open or closed to you?


37

One popular⁷ saying for this is If a stone falls on an egg, alas for the egg. If an egg falls on a stone, alas for the egg. According to various sources, it is of Arab origin; of Chinese origin; of Cypriot Greek origin; et al. (1,2,3,4,5,6). Part of the lyrics for a song about this appear on a mudcat.org webpage. The chorus: If a rock falls on ...


34

I know the questioner wanted proverbs that value conformity, but this proverb comes to mind immediately: The squeaky wheel gets the grease It has the exact opposite meaning to the proverb in the question, but the sentiment is similar: it describes what happens to something (or someone) that draws attention to itself (himself). If the questioner is ...


34

The most obvious parallel is "butt ugly", common in the US. But, I think that sraka as a term for the buttocks probably is related to srat', срать , some form of which means "to shit" in all Slavic languages, as far as I know. Sraka means magpie (the bird) in some Slavic languages, by the way- there are some funny misunderstandings when speakers of ...


33

It may seem like a long shot but consider the quote from Milton's Paradise Lost: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven. even though it may carry additional (sarcastic ?) meaning.


32

I heard this phrase used, I think by a Korean, in a documentary called BBoy Planet. There, it was translated as "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down", which seems to carry the meaning better into English. English phrases with similar connotations might include... Keep your head down. Don't stick your neck out. It's difficult because, as you ...


32

Blessing in disguise This English idiom is pretty straightforward, and it fits the immediate meaning of old Sai losing his horse (although in the full story, the chain of events turns sour and sweet alternately). When old Sai lost his horse, you could say this is a blessing in disguise, as the horse later returns with a herd. This link here also uses this ...


30

This is like "it's better to buy insurance and not need it (than it is to not have insurance and need it)." In this phrase, being safe requires effort to be in that condition, but the effort is small compared to what loss might occur if that effort weren't made. Examples are: It's better to check behind your car every time you back out of your driveway, ...


29

There are a number of these in English. Between a rock and a hard place. Between Scylla and Charybdis. Between the devil and the deep blue sea. As well as the closely related expression: Out of the frying pan and into the fire.


29

A common, humorous way of saying that someone has an ugly face is to say that they have a face only a mother could love. Naturally, a mother will always find her child beautiful—the implication here is that absolutely no one else will. It is relatively offensive, but it doesn’t sound anywhere near as offensive as the Ukrainian version, where you’re ...


28

There is a proverb for this: The weakest go to the wall From the book "The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs" By Martin H. Manser (2007):


27

Consider every cloud has a silver lining. Every bad situation has some good aspect to it. This proverb is usually said as an encouragement to a person who is overcome by some difficulty and is unable to see any positive way forward. [The Phrase Finder] This source attributes the origin to John Milton: Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634 ...


25

A horses teeth are regarded as a good guide to its age. When you buy a horse you check its teeth to see if they match the age of the horse according to the seller. If someone gives you a horse as a gift, it is considered ungrateful to check its teeth. You are pointedly drawing attention to your doubts about the quality of the gift.


24

A gift horse is a horse that was a gift, quite simply. When given a horse, it would be bad manners to inspect the horse's mouth to see if it has bad teeth. This can be applied as an analogy to any gift: Don't inspect it to make sure it matches some standard you have, just be grateful!


24

He who has the gold makes the rules. I can't find a reliable origin for this, but it seems common in political and economic criticism. It appears to be a perversion of the Golden Rule.


23

I'm going to suggest you to remain above suspicion. Because, the main idea in your question is "don't do things that can make you look suspicious". The idiom "above suspicion" comes from Caesar's famous statement about his wife: Caesar's wife must be above suspicion. above suspicion - [for one] to be honest enough that no one would suspect ...


22

The concept behind the phrase is that some areas of life are so important and overwhelming that you cannot blame someone for acting in their own best interest. For war, this implies that spies, torture, lying, backstabbing, making deals with enemies, selling out allies, bombing civilians, wounding instead of killing, and so on are "fair game" in the sense ...


22

While I initially interpreted the phrase with a modern understanding of "care", as in to tend to, I did a check on the etymology of "care" to see if it could have possibly have another meaning and this is what I found on Etymonline.com: care (n.) Old English caru, cearu "sorrow, anxiety, grief," also "burdens of mind; serious mental attention," from ...


22

People should not only avoid impropriety but also avoid even the Appearance of impropriety.


21

Ups and downs comes to mind rises and falls of fortune; good and bad times: ebb and flow is similar but to my mind does not have the same connotation of good and bad. A decline and increase, constant fluctuations. For example, He was fascinated by the ebb and flow of the Church's influence over the centuries. source: reference.com


19

Based on your historical narrative, it seems that an ideal counterpart would emphasize a spirit of fairness that trumps an opportunity to exploit a weakness during some struggle between two opponents. That being said, an English saying that I would offer is: Don't kick him when he's down. The saying refers to some kind of fistfight between two ...


19

In addition to phrases such as "play fair" and "don't kick a man when he's down" is the concept of Chivalry. When used in a modern day context, this entails standards of conduct such as courtesy, generosity, valour and fairness towards one's antagonists. Originally (and still today, when used in a historical context) Chivalry meant the code of conduct ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible