Questions tagged [proverb-requests]

For questions that ask for an English-language proverb that would be appropriate to use in a particular context.

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68
votes
21answers
14k views

Idiom criticizing a person who has unsolved problems but tries to give someone advice about them

Is there an idiom or expression that refers to a person who has some unsolved problems and tries to give some pieces of advice to, or guide, others for solving the same problems? We Iranians have a ...
62
votes
11answers
17k views

Is there a proverb to express “You are too late and it's your own fault.”?

In Lithuanian language there is a proverb that translated word-for-word would say "The train does not wait for the shitting ones." While sounding somewhat rude, it is perfect for expressing: "You ...
54
votes
13answers
7k views

English equivalent for the Persian idiom “send someone out in pursuit of black chickpeas”

"To send somebody out in pursuit of some black chickpeas" is a Persian idiom that implies 'to make or ask someone to run an errand so that you be able to have/ buy some time in order to deal with your ...
48
votes
18answers
12k views

English equivalent for the Persian proverb “The mountain just gave birth to a mouse”

I'm looking for an idiom or expression to describe a well-known person/ organization/ politician/ government whose achievements in a given situation are smaller than what they had claimed or promised ...
45
votes
29answers
10k views

Is there an English equivalent to the Persian saying “Now that it's my turn, the sky fell down”?

Suppose there are many people standing in a line to receive an expensive item as a free gift, and everyone receives it except for the last person in the line. The last one is told, "Sorry, the gifts ...
44
votes
14answers
20k views

Is there a common saying in English that means “It's just business, I don't feel any shame”

In Gujarati language there is a saying which literally means "no shame in business". It is used in a context where one has to do something unpleasant (or immoral) for the sake of their business (...
34
votes
20answers
15k views

Is there an English equivalent for the Persian proverb “to play with tail of lion”

The Persian proverb to play with tail of lion is used informally. We use it to say that a certain situation is very dangerous. By saying it, we alert the the listener that the act which he or she is ...
31
votes
16answers
4k views

Is there any equivalent to this Persian proverb? “A bad or faulty item should inevitably be kept by its owner”

We use a proverb that implies "A bad property (i.e., a thing belonging to someone) or item should inevitably be tolerated/kept by its owner" when we want to say "This bad item won't be accepted by ...
31
votes
12answers
6k views

Any equivalent to this Persian proverb “The yellow dog is the jackal's brother”?

Suppose you have a new boss and your former boss was a vicious and dictator one. Now you are visiting the new boss for the first time. He seems to be a nice person to you, but one of your colleagues ...
29
votes
6answers
8k views

Proverb for when one person sees something, but someone else takes it [closed]

Is there a proverb that fits the following situation: John and Anderson (while walking): John: [sees a $100 bill lying in the road, and shouts] Yahoo! $100! Anderson: [takes the money and ...
26
votes
16answers
5k views

English equivalent to the Indian saying “Like a thief being stung by a scorpion”

The title is the literal translation of a south Indian proverb, used to describe situations where a person who's already guilty will be proven so, if he voices himself against something. Examples: ...
23
votes
8answers
6k views

Proverb: If Something is Managed By Many, Things Are Missed

I'm wondering if there is a well-known, documented and succinct proverb that matches the idea of: Too many managers or departments overseeing a single task The task fails because there are too many ...
23
votes
22answers
6k views

Idiom request for recommending someone to end their toxic relationship/ friendship with somebody

​​Is there any idiom or proverb for recommending someone to end their relationship/ friendship/ partnership with somebody whose behaviors or actions seem toxic, harmful, and thus really intolerable? ...
22
votes
10answers
8k views

In my native language, we have this obscene saying - don't take a dump in the barrel of honey

The implication is that one must not display a disrespectful behavior in regards to his/her friends or the people he/she knows very well, because as the honey in the barrel won't be edible anymore ...
21
votes
20answers
15k views

What's an expression for a cunningly-fake friend?

I'd like to warn somebody of one of their harmful managers, or even a so-called fake friend, so I say it like this: Don't trust him! He is nothing but a cunning person who is trying to harm you/put ...
21
votes
10answers
8k views

Idiom request for describing a situation in which someone give advantages to their enemy or opponent

I'm looking for an idiom or proverb that can be used for describing a situation in which someone's actions or behaviors are in favor of their opponents or enemies; in other words it seems that they ...
21
votes
7answers
3k views

Is there any phrase, proverb or idiom that convey “the turtle quarreled with the lake”?

There is a proverb in Arabic that literally means: "the turtle quarreled with the lake" It is used when "A" rejects a favor from "B" to hide his dependence on it, as a turtle's life depends on the ...
20
votes
16answers
6k views

Opposite of “Squeaky wheel gets the grease”

I want a fun and playful retort to use against someone who says "The squeaky wheel gets the grease", which, according to the so-named Wikipedia1 article means: The squeaky wheel gets the grease is ...
20
votes
14answers
5k views

Idiom or proverb that implies “ the evidence contradicts what you claim”

Is there any idiom or proverb that means "the evidence contradicts what you claim"? There is a proverb in Persian that says: "Should/ shall we believe the rooster's tail or the fox's oaths to God?...
19
votes
15answers
4k views

Someone whose aspirations exceed abilities or means

What would be a clear and concise way to describe someone whose ambitions or aspirations far exceed his means or abilities?
18
votes
11answers
4k views

Is there an English equivalent for this Tamil proverb - “A painting of a bottle gourd is worthless while preparing stew”?

This is an interesting expression that I came across very recently while reading a Tamil magazine. The literal meaning is that you can't cook the stew by just having a painting of a bottle gourd. ...
16
votes
11answers
5k views

Equivalent of “teri lal” a Hindi phrase which means “you are right” said sarcastically (but not actually meant) [closed]

There is a saying in Hindi in India "teri lal" which translates "yours is red" which means "Whatever the case may be you are right" as in "you are always right". It is a sarcastic way of telling (...
14
votes
6answers
8k views

Is there an English equivalent of the Hindi saying “sau chuhe maar billi haj ko chali”? (After killing/eating 100 mice, the cat goes on a pilgrimage)

In Hindi language, there is a prevalent saying: sau chuhe maar billi haj ko chali which, if directly translated into English, becomes After killing/eating 100 mice, the cat goes on a pilgrimage ...
13
votes
9answers
1k views

Is there any equivalent for this Persian proverb “A lopsided load won't reach the destination”?

There is a proverb in Persian that literally means: "A lopsided load won't reach the (given) destination." It implies that "dishonesty, deviation from the right path, or injustice wouldn't have ...
11
votes
13answers
3k views

Things will change: idiom or proverb

Is there an idiom or maybe a proverb stating that things will not be the same or as you want, forever. For example when telling someone that they might be in a good state or status now, but they will ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

In the darkest nights, the moon is dearly missed

This is the translation of an Arabic proverb which means that during these hard times you miss someone who made life easier, happier, and so on: In the darkest nights, the moon is dearly missed. ...
10
votes
15answers
3k views

“He is an opportunist, there's no need to give him more excuses or opportunities!”

We have a saying in my country: He doesn't need music to start dancing. He is already dancing without music! Which figuratively means: He doesn't need any special, real, or necessary excuses for ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Proverb meaning “to give something to somebody who does not recognize its value”

Can you please tell me an English proverb which means "to give something to somebody who does not recognize the value of that thing"?
10
votes
2answers
3k views

Is “old hen makes good broth” actually used in English?

While looking for the more appropriate English version of the Italian proverb "gallina vecchia fa buon brodo": Proverbio: "è sempre bene fidarsi di chi ha esperienza". - È usato spesso per ...
10
votes
4answers
862 views

Idiom or proverb request for describing or criticising a situation in which the lowliest dare mock a mightiest who has become old

I am looking for an idiom or proverb that can be used in situations which the lowliest dare mock a mightiest because of his/her age and thus considering him/her enfeebled. There is proverb in Persian ...
10
votes
11answers
892 views

Is there an English equivalent for this Kurdish proverb: “every ripe and delicious cantaloupe is eaten by a donkey”

The Kurdish proverb every ripe and delicious cantaloupe (muskmelon) is eaten by a donkey is one of the most interesting proverbs that I have heard in four languages, including Kurdish, Persian, ...
8
votes
12answers
39k views

Idiom for the phrase “someone who gets what he deserved”

Is there an idiom for someone who gets what he deserved? Like someone receiving punishment for his evil deeds or someone getting awarded for his good deeds?
8
votes
21answers
8k views

When someone ruins all the good they have ever done!

Suppose you have a nice and kind friend who helps you whenever possible, but sometimes they say something to you so angrily and sarcastically that you forget about all their kindness and help, because ...
8
votes
5answers
747 views

Is there any English equivalent to the Portuguese proverb “days of plenty, nothing’s eve?”

Days of plenty, nothing’s eves (in Portuguese dias de muito, vésperas de nada) means your days of plenty are eves of days of nothing, i.e. you alternate between splashing out and hardship, usually ...
7
votes
4answers
872 views

A phrase/idiom to describe indulgence in previously no-no stuffs after change of belief [closed]

After a radical change of belief (religion, political view etc.) people sometimes start to indulge in a thing which is a strict no-no by their previously held belief system. For example after leaving ...
7
votes
8answers
4k views

English equivalent of saying “Don’t get in between the nail and the flesh”?

The saying “Don’t get in between the nail and the flesh” from my own language is typically addressed to someone who likes to provide unsolicited help by barging in on a heated conversation between two ...
7
votes
3answers
122 views

A change of mind

In my language we have an expression which literally translated is “He was born a fireman but died in a fire” as a nice methaphor for a big shift in your way of thinking (like from conservative to ...
7
votes
3answers
537 views

Idiom request for critisizing someone who ignores or overlooks their old things or friends, in an annoying manner, after having or finding new ones

I'm looking for and idiom, expression or proverb for criticizing (or describing) a situation in which someone doesn't pay attention to/ like their old things, friends, colleagues, hobbies, etc any ...
6
votes
16answers
5k views

Is there a proverb or idiom describing incompetence?

I am looking for a fancy expression to describe people who have no idea what they are doing. I have a semi-proverb in my mind, but I cannot recall its origins (in particular, I don't think it is ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Expressing that you are prepared because you feared the worst

While others took it easy, you worked and saved like you might be fired at any moment. Now there is a corporate takeover and you're glad you took the pessimistic path. Unlike Cassandra or the ant and ...
6
votes
10answers
6k views

Idiom or expression for criticizing people who ignore you right after getting what they wanted/ were after

There is an idiom in Persian that literally says: "(to be ignored right after) somebody's donkey has crossed or passed (over) the bridge" We use it in situations where someone (now feels relieved and)...
6
votes
7answers
642 views

Expression for internal struggle

In German language, there is the beautiful expression "seinen inneren Schweinehund überwinden", which amounts to "to overcome one's inner pig-dog", and vividly describes the feeling of surpassing the ...
6
votes
6answers
4k views

Is there a proverb for “if there's a simple solution for solving a problem don't choose a more complicated one”? [duplicate]

Is there an idiom/ phrase/ expression or proverb that conveys this meaning: "As long as there is a more simple solution for solving a problem don't choose a more complicated one." or: "when you can ...
6
votes
7answers
2k views

Is there any proverb or idiom that conveys “the world is bound to no man”?

Is there any proverb or idiom that conveys this meaning:" Don't rely on this world, since it is not loyal to man forever, today it is in your hand, tomorrow in mine" (actually it is a Persian saying ...
6
votes
3answers
854 views

What English idiom or proverb is equivalent to this Hindi expression: “Having eaten 900 rats, cat moves to Hajj”

There's a Hindi proverb: नौ सौ चूहे खाकर बिल्ली हज को चली The literal translation is: Having eaten 900 rats, cat moves to Hajj (pilgrimage) This proverb means you adulate yourself pretending ...
5
votes
6answers
3k views

What is the idiom/proverb for “the more you pressure someone they will run away from committing”?

What is the idiom/proverb for the following? the more you pressure someone they will run away from committing/engaging" This is attributed to a girlfriend and boyfriend, parent and child, teachers ...
5
votes
3answers
119 views

A proverb for when one starts taking action after losing many times

Is there a proverb for "when one starts shaping up after losing many times". For example, I have failed in Maths Test many times, but now I am taking it serious and working hard to pass next time. The ...
5
votes
4answers
173 views

English equivalent phrase for “To set a fire and also to go and extinguish it”

Is there equivalent of this Hindi expression Aag (Fire) bhi (also) lagana (to set/ignite) , Bhujane (Extinguish) bhi (also), Khudhi (self) Jana (to go) which means To set a fire and also to ...
5
votes
2answers
173 views

What’s a semi-formal American equivalent for the British expression “value for money”?

I'm searching for an American phrase that would be equivalent to the British “X is great value for money”, one that’s not too colloquial and can be used in a serious product description. I am aware ...
4
votes
3answers
96 views

Is there a proverb/saying which means “someone in authority can break the rules”?

Is there a proverb or saying or expression that means "someone in authority will do anything they want"? Eg: My boss used to warn me about coming late to work, but he was late to work yesterday. I ...