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Questions tagged [proverbs]

A simple truth that expresses an idea or fact.

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The usage of the idiom "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

The idiom "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" conveys [at least] the idea that merely having good intentions is insufficient; one must also take action to realize those ...
hh_sonja's user avatar
  • 353
0 votes
2 answers
55 views

How to parse and punctuate the saying: "United we stand, divided we fall."

Personally, I think the phrase should be punctuated like this: "United, we stand; divided, we fall." The thing is, I could envision "United we stand" without a comma perhaps ...
Ben Mo Juan's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
65 views

What is the term/phrase in academic English Literature given to idioms/figure-of-speech/proverbs/narratives that are oxymorons/self-contradictory? [closed]

Unless the employer stuffs my mouth with gold until I gag, I will Not work for them. What is the term/phrase in academic English Literature given to idioms/figure-of-speech/proverbs/narratives that ...
crazyTech's user avatar
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2 answers
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"you might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb" grammatical analysis

How is the last part of "you might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb" grammatically correct, that is "as for a lamb"? Don't we use the structure "as for a something&...
Saim Doruklu's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
252 views

Can a proverb be used as a double entendre?

My colleague and I have different interpretations of what a double entendre can be. I attempted to make my case using the song “when it rains it pours” sung by Luke Combs as an example. From what I ...
Tonytwotoes's user avatar
12 votes
8 answers
2k views

Idiomatic expression for "putting off a task until a disaster strikes" [duplicate]

In Russian language there is a proverb "Пока гром не грянет, мужик не перекрестится". Literal translation would be something like this: the peasant will not cross himself before it begins to ...
Vladimir Baranov's user avatar
1 vote
3 answers
190 views

Ignorance is the opposite of bliss

The proverb "ignorance is bliss" is used to express that somebody feels better by not knowing all the details about a topic. In an existing thread titled "ignorance is not bliss", ...
Mew's user avatar
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7 votes
2 answers
344 views

Is there such a thing as a new adage?

I was brought up to understand that a proverb that is described as an adage is, by virtue of its longevity, old. Take, for exapmle, the Old Testament book of Proverbs, some of which date back ...
Lesley's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
1k views

What's the English equivalent of the Italian 'sputare nel piatto dove si mangia'?

There's an Italian expression, 'sputare nel piatto dove si mangia', that literally means 'to spit on the plate where you eat', but really means: to have an attitude of contempt, of strong criticism ...
user6376297's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

Origin and evolution of the proverb "A closed mouth catches no flies"

"A closed mouth catches no flies" is a proverb, and the origins of proverbs are almost always strange and murky; I'm not really expecting a definitive answer here. Wiktionary attributes the ...
Heartspring's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
13k views

Where does this proverb come from? “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”

I am attempting to find the origin or source of this proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together” Most sources say that this is a translation of an African proverb,...
dmcgill50's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
246 views

How common is the phrase: "Blessed be nothing"?

The phrase itself is found in one of Emerson's essays: "Blessed be nothing," and "the worse things are, the better they are," are proverbs which express the transcendentalism of ...
James's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
199 views

What is the meaning of "As bare as a bird’s tail?"

I initially found it in a 17th century English-Dutch Dictionary, page 37 I then found it in https://www.bartleby.com/ As bare as a bird’s tail. 1361 Twelve Mery Gestys of the Widow Edyth, 1525, by ...
Bob516's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
236 views

Is "Irish potatoes are not boiled twice" a valid proverb?

This "proverb" was used 40 years ago in my dad's school by an English teacher. My dad says his teacher used it to mean, "Instructions will not be repeated". For example, if a ...
Sage of Seven Paths's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
41 views

Saying or expression about modesty [duplicate]

I am looking for a saying or expression in English that is equivalent to "what is an ant that you want to make a meal from?" meaning that, I dont consider myself that important to make such ...
Hemn's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
46 views

Are proverbs and metaphors the same thing? [duplicate]

Are all proverbs considered metaphors or does it depend? Here are a couple of proverbs for which I would like to know if they are metaphors or just statements: Rome wasn't built in a day. The best-...
Michael Munta's user avatar
6 votes
4 answers
4k views

What does 'a death by thousand cuts' mean? [closed]

I learned this is an ancient technique of torture originating from imperial China. But nowadays a lot of articles and blogs use this proverbial expression. I want to know: What does it mean in a ...
banikr's user avatar
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0 votes
4 answers
80 views

Effect called when humans overvalue one good event after series of Bad events and Overexaggeration one single bad event after series of Good events

What is the effect called on humans when When you have seen series of bad events happen to you, and then the next tend to overvalue an negligible good thing happening as a gratitude or grand success ...
AMN's user avatar
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0 answers
20 views

Saying, proverb, phrase for the idea of Absurdity of concentrating on pointless, over-the-top pleasantries than subject that matters the most [duplicate]

We have newly appointed 75+ power-hog manager (old school but in pejorative sense), affected by second childhood and treated like a lame duck (too good to do anything productive). He is infatuated by ...
AMN's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
694 views

What is a saying for "a bookish inexperience preaching the experienced"

Like Preaching to the choir means to speak for or against something to people who already agree with one's opinions. What is saying when an idealist, bookish inexperience, fresh-out-of-college ...
AMN's user avatar
  • 3,102
11 votes
8 answers
3k views

English equivalent of "To those you try to help, he says I am only right." [closed]

There is an old Indian Marathi saying (Mhan in marathi) Jyacha karava bhala to mhanato majhach khara (Pronunciation: Jya-ch K-ra-v Bh-l, To Mh-n-to Ma-zch Kh-r) It means Those you try to help say ...
AMN's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
337 views

Any similar idioms to "Don't blow your own horn/trumpet"? [closed]

I am looking for idioms in English which convey a message that a person should not testify about his own character. Any ideas?
Moyshe Zuchmir's user avatar
23 votes
24 answers
7k views

What's the equal and opposite proverb of "Variety is the spice of life"?

It is a little-known law that most proverbs have an equal and opposite. For example... Too many cooks spoil the broth: Many hands make light work. Fortune favours the brave: Fools rush in where ...
it's a hire car baby's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
81 views

Synonym for asking for a discount just before closing a deal

In persian we have this phrase which translates to "the seasoning for the deal" or "نمک معامله" in the exact literature. Now, a realtor friend, as it is common in persian culture, ...
shayan's user avatar
  • 263
2 votes
1 answer
52 views

Is there a proverb that describes a self-important person of low standing?

For example, when someone thinks they rule the roost in a company, but in reality they don't have an important position.
BeatsMe's user avatar
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1 vote
3 answers
71 views

Does "don't cry over lost Bitcoins" really work? [closed]

There's the old saying: Don't cry over spilled milk! Its meaning, AFAIK, is that you should not cry/be sad/get hung up over losing something trivial which can easily be replaced. If you spill some ...
Domino's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
86 views

An idiom expressing the circularity of tool making

Is there an idiom or a proverb like "in order to make a knife you need to use another knife", or, better, "in order to make a sharp knife you need to use a duller knife", ...
Evan Aad's user avatar
  • 131
0 votes
2 answers
104 views

Proverb, quote or phrase which convey that the approach, ideas that are meant to improve the system or process are the onces which fail them [duplicate]

I am looking for a proverb, quote or phrase describing the processes (or structures or ideas) which are supposed to bring in efficiency, enhance the gaps and increases in-efficiencies, but instead ...
AMN's user avatar
  • 3,102
1 vote
0 answers
792 views

Metaphor similar to "one apple spoils the whole bunch"?

I am trying to describe sectarianism that starts from the oldest generation and seeps down to their children and grandchildren and I am getting major writer's block when trying to find a metaphorical ...
Amrynn's user avatar
  • 11
1 vote
0 answers
47 views

proverbial idiom that fits the point that "Main contractor asking (polite forcing) subcontractor to spoon feed his own duty in its entirety"

In business, a main contractor is the one who takes up the responsibility of the whole project which he understands he can undertake in its entirety, some without and part with help of a subcontractor....
AMN's user avatar
  • 3,102
3 votes
3 answers
912 views

Does English have a version of "pouring water on a goose"?

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/verkan Det där har lika mycket verkan som att hälla vatten på en gås. That has as much effect as pouring water on a goose. It means that something is futile or ...
Youcef N.'s user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
365 views

Idioms: Exploiting/Taking Advantage of Others (negative connotation) [duplicate]

Could you please give me an idiom, proverb, or saying that describes someone who exploits and take advantage of others? An idiomatic expression that has a negative connotation. Or maybe to say that ...
Leen Aljadid's user avatar
9 votes
11 answers
14k views

What is a good proverb in response to "two wrongs don't make a right"?

In an ideal world, I know "two wrongs do not make a right" but in the real world (or at least mine) I have often found that although they may not make a right, they often stop further "...
Sagar's user avatar
  • 109
0 votes
1 answer
140 views

Is there a proverb in English to convey the meaning "Attempting to catch a flying bird by accidentally releasing the one in hand."? [duplicate]

Attempting to catch a flying bird by accidentally releasing the one in hand. For example, pursuing other attractive objects for getting more benefit but accidentally losing the benefits from the ...
Display Name's user avatar
  • 1,945
0 votes
1 answer
159 views

fantasy and reality sayings

You should never act out a fantasy because the reality never matches up. Is this a famous saying (especially about sexual fantasies)? Or is there any sayings or quotes similar to this? I read this in ...
ayasasu's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
204 views

The bigger the tree, the further the fruit falls

I overheard this once, but can't seem to find the origin of this quote. I checked Bartlet, Times, Yale, and Oxford, so I'm positive I heard it wrong. It might have been "the taller the tree."...
Kfir's user avatar
  • 129
0 votes
1 answer
75 views

what is its proverb in English [duplicate]

there is a famous proverb in Nepal, i.e. कागले कान समात्यो भन्दैमा म कागको पछि लग्नु. The meaning of this proverb to believe other blindly. For example: "The man said someone that the crow ...
madan's user avatar
  • 3
1 vote
2 answers
362 views

Idioms or expressions defining either getting paid fully or being appreciated

I am looking for a common English expression/idiom that defines a situation below: I have done some work for someone, and in return, they are not going to pay me the full payment. Then I will tell ...
Mojtaba Zare's user avatar
-1 votes
2 answers
614 views

What does "You can't bolt your door with a boiled carrot" mean?

There's an Irish expression: "You can't bolt your door with a boiled carrot." Are there any Irishmen or women who can tell me what it means?
Nathan Casey's user avatar
18 votes
8 answers
5k views

Spoken word equivalent for "paper does not refuse ink"

This phrase advises a healthy skepticism of the written word. Is there a similar idiom that advises skepticism of the spoken word?
gatorback's user avatar
  • 301
0 votes
3 answers
974 views

Idiom/proverb: if you keep calling someone a mouse, they might start thinking they're a mouse

I know there is a similar idiom in English and in other languages like Chinese languages, but I can't remember the exact idiom. It's something like "if you keep calling an elephant a mouse, it might ...
Nergüi's user avatar
  • 97
2 votes
1 answer
83 views

How would a native speaker react to the proverbial phrase: "Life is lethal"?

Would it sound completely wrong? Would it be understood humoristically? Would "deadly" be better? It's an attempt to translate the humoristic German sentence: Das Leben ist tödlich. I often ...
Patrick2000's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
676 views

English alternative for 'gesture for wise, stick for fool'

There is a proverb in Urdu language which translates to "gesture for wise, stick for fool". We use it to mean that a gesture is enough for a wise person, he will understand only by gesture and fool is ...
user avatar
3 votes
5 answers
198 views

Phrase for "Night Haystacker"

I want a proverb, a metaphor, or a figure of speech about someone who collects non-selectively and carries a heavy load that hurts him. He wants to quickly unload it. In Arabic, we say a night ...
Nour Negm 's user avatar
0 votes
3 answers
84 views

Is there an expression in English for "being asked to act on your own suggestion"? [duplicate]

Is there an expression in English for "being asked to act on your own suggestion"? Here's an example of the scenario that I'm thinking about: Wife: Husband, the living room light is broken. We ...
Prakhar's user avatar
11 votes
7 answers
3k views

English idiomatic proverb that expresses "work makes the doer"?

Latvian language (one of the Baltic languages, others being Lithuanian and extinct Prussian language) has proverb (with alliterations) Darbs dara darītāju, which can be translated literally into ...
TomR's user avatar
  • 279
0 votes
2 answers
5k views

Quote similar to "the pen is mightier than the sword"

I'm looking for a quote that is similar to "the pen is mightier than the sword", which is commonly credited to Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. The quote should state the same thing, namely, that words ...
Jan Kleinow's user avatar
21 votes
10 answers
4k views

Is there an adage in English for "realizing you are not the biggest"?

There is an adage in South Asia which literally translates to: A camel has finally seen the mountain. Which basically goes back to a story where a camel used to think that it was the tallest until it ...
fahadash's user avatar
  • 311
3 votes
3 answers
176 views

Proverb that means "Even something done completely wrong might yield a slightly good result (but that doesn't mean it should be done)"

It somewhere on the lines of "Even a dead clock is right twice a day". The proverb is sarcastic. I know it exists, I have just forgotten it. It describes: Something that is abused or used not in a ...
Anurag 's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
743 views

A proverb/idiom synonymous to "changing horses in the midstream"

Is there a synonym to the idiom in the title which uses the simile of changing table cloth during the meal/dinner and if so, how is it properly worded? Heard it in a US movie dubbed in my native ...
Баян Купи-ка's user avatar

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