"Whenever you see a deaf man running follow him, he has seen an impending danger not just heard it."- Has anything proverbial in this sentence?

  • Let's hope you never see a dead man running! Seriously though 'dead man walking' is an idiom and yours has a certain familiarity, perhaps due to that. – chasly - supports Monica Jul 18 '15 at 18:20
  • If it's been repeated twice it's a proverb. – Hot Licks Jul 18 '15 at 19:20
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    Two repeats do not a proverb make. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 18 '15 at 20:56
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    It has the sound of a proverb, but it's not. There are many reasons a deaf man might run: he's late for an appointment, a creditor is chasing him, he's paranoid and believes he's being chased by a demon, he's eager to get home before his puppy wets the carpet. Why in heaven's name would we want to follow him? Proverbs contain truth or good advice: A rolling stone gathers no moss, don't judge a book by its cover, don't count your chickens before they hatch, no use crying over spilt milk, no man is an island, early bird, gift horse, ain't broke, bite the hand, etc, etc., etc. – anongoodnurse Jul 18 '15 at 21:23
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    I'm just puzzled as to how, if one saw a man running, one would know whether he was deaf. Perhaps if we shout at him and he doesn't answer...? – WS2 Jul 18 '15 at 22:18


a short, well-known pithy saying, stating a general truth or piece of advice

Google Dictionary

Note the word "well-known" in that definition. I don't think this is - at least not in English. However, as prosd says, the phrasing sounds quite proverb-like.

  • Is it brevity and the soundness of idea behind it that makes an expression a proverb? – Syam Kumar. V Jul 18 '15 at 18:27
  • @SyamKumar.V - Look at that definition again. A proverb has to have all of those characteristics. – chasly - supports Monica Jul 18 '15 at 18:31
  • Do proverbs have regional bearings,well that is to say a proverb popular in Australia need to be popular in Wales. – Syam Kumar. V Jul 18 '15 at 18:57

I've never heard anyone say this, but there's a sort of phrasing which makes a sentence sound proverbial, and this has it.


I interpret this as meaning that one should rely on perception of reality (eyes) rather than on what people say.


Collins: a short, memorable, and often highly condensed saying embodying, esp with bold imagery, some commonplace fact or experience

Dictionary.com: a wise saying or precept; a didactic sentence

Merriam-Webster: a brief popular saying (such as “Too many cooks spoil the broth”) that gives advice about how people should live or that expresses a belief that is generally thought to be true

Oxford: a short pithy saying in general use, stating a general truth or piece of advice

Cambridge: a short statement, usually known by many people for a long time, that gives advice or expresses some common truth

Macmillan: a short well-known statement that gives practical advice about life

Many sources consider "well-known" to be essential to a proverb. Therefore, since this statement is not well-known in any English-speaking culture, it would not commonly be regarded as an American/British/etc proverb. However, if there were a culture in which the statement were in common use, it would be considered a proverb in that culture.

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