Questions tagged [proverbs]

A simple truth that expresses an idea or fact.

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17 views

What’s the difference between “from your lips” and “from your lips to God’s ears”? [duplicate]

I read in one website that the former is a short version of the later, but I found no other source saying so. Also, I know the meaning of the former, but I’m not sure what “from your lips” mean. Is it ...
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1answer
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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.
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56 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 ...
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3answers
56 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", ...
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2answers
85 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 ...
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0answers
44 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 ...
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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....
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
55 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 ...
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11answers
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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 "...
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1answer
45 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 ...
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55 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 ...
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1answer
60 views

Looking for an idiom

I need to know which one of these idioms fits this description - you unwittingly adopt the views, habits of a person with whom you socialize or are on friendly terms/close intercourse with people ...
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1answer
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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."...
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
76 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 ...
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2answers
168 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?
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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?
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3answers
108 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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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2answers
220 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 ...
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5answers
190 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 ...
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3answers
71 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 ...
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7answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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10answers
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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 ...
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3answers
142 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 ...
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1answer
180 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 ...
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1answer
463 views

“Compass” as in “compass their ends” — meaning in context

Anatomy of the sentence: Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing I know this is the origin of "all that is necessary for evil to ...
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2answers
2k views

Early use of “there's always a bigger fish”

The old fisherman's proverb popularized by Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace has a history of uses in literal contexts (fishing), however after the release of Phantom Menace the metaphorical use of the ...
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1answer
80 views

Is there a proverb for “a problem looks so simple when you know the solution”?

I think I have seen one or two proverbs before that are used in situations where someone thinks a problem/puzzle is very easy but only because he/she has heard the answer to the problem/puzzle. Is ...
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English equivalent of this Tagalog proverb [duplicate]

We have a saying in Tagalog: Aanhin pa ang damo, kung patay na ang kabayo. which literally translates to English as What is grass good for, if the horse is already dead. Basically, the idea is,...
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Is there a word/idiom/proverb for this Hindi phrase? [duplicate]

I'd like to know if there is anything for this in English which is roughly: Shoot many arrows, one will fit. I am from India and we have an idiom dedicated to it in Hindi but I, literally, ...
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1answer
174 views

What's another idiom/proverb for there is more to something than meets the eye?

I have to make an idiom/proverb for 'there is more to something than meets the eye' in the context of culture; that often, traditions and customs are just symbolic/representative of bigger things. ...
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1answer
179 views

English equivalent of Konkani proverb “kam natilo achari bhurganchi kule tasto” (When jobless, a carpenter takes to even filing children's buttocks)

English equivalent of Konkani proverb "kam (job) natilo (not having) achari (Carpenter) bhurganchi (Children's) kule (buttocks) tasto (files)" (When jobless, a Clueless carpenter takes to even filing (...
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276 views

Is there a close equivalent to Russian saying “Chem dalshe v les tem bolshe drov”

So far I found only one reference which is not helpful https://www.quora.com/What-does-the-Russian-saying-the-deeper-into-the-forest-the-fatter-the-partisans-mean
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894 views

What would be english equivalent of Hindi proverb char aane ki murgi barah aane ka masala-Chicken is dirt cheap but its ingredients are costing a bomb

What would be english equivalent of Hindi proverb "char aane (Rs. 0.25) ki murgi (Chicken) barah aane (Rs. 0.75) ka masala (spice)" is an old phrase around 60's and the 70's India which mean Chicken ...
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1answer
355 views

Is there an English version for “Unum castigabis, centum emendabis”?

The Latin saying Unum castigabis, centum emendabis is commonly and currently used in Italian as “punirne uno per educarne cento”. Literally the expression means “punish one, to correct one hundred”....
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1answer
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'A mind is like a parachute'—who coined this expression, and when?

I recently received a Facebook notification from an online quotation site, which attributed the following saying to Frank Zappa: A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open. I ...
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What is the equivalent proverb/idiom for Hindi saying in English?

Muh mein ram ram bagal mein churi It means Speak praise on the face and stab him from behind.
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7answers
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English equivalent of the Malayalam saying “don't stab/poke the dead body”?

ശവത്തിൽ കുത്തരുത് (śavattil kuttarut) is a Malayalam saying that in literal translation means "Don't stab/poke the dead body". The meaning would be something like: don't humiliate a person when he is ...
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169 views

What proverb describes getting out from trouble but ending up in another one? [duplicate]

I remember reading something like "out from something's mouth/jaws (like a dragon) and into another..."
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5answers
480 views

An epigram for when one bad thing happens, it causes a chain reaction of bad things [duplicate]

I'm not talking about Domino Effect or Murphy's Law, it's something else. I used to know it, but for the life of me, I can't seem to remember. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I think it was "...
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1answer
416 views

What does “A horse may stumble, though he has four feet.” mean?

English is not much of my first language, so I apologise for that first. I've search around on Google, and notice that it's sort of a Dutch Proverb, but not much explanation about what it means. May ...
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3answers
4k views

How many birds in the bush?

There is a well known proverb, A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush However, I have discovered that the earliest English version of this proverb according to phrases.org.uk is found in John ...
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1answer
262 views

What's the meaning of “The Pole is wise when the damage is done”

I came across this line while reading the Novel Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. In the novel, Abel uses this line when he sees his hotel burned to the ground. I searched a lot but found just one ...
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7k views

Those who speak do not know, those who know do not speak

We have this idiom-like saying in Turkish. The idea is that there are certain things, topics, etc., if one talks about it, it strongly suggests that he has no idea what he is talking about, else he ...
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1answer
470 views

Double meanings of English proverbs

I recently read a long list of English proverbs and strongly felt that a considerable number of them have a double meaning, despite that the explanations of the proverbs provide only one meaning for ...
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1answer
160 views

When whores talk about honor [duplicate]

There is a proverb or saying in Arabic and the exact translation is... "When whores talk about honor" ...this is said when someone points out other people's mistakes while he/she makes the same ...
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1answer
1k views

A similar English proverb to Hindi/Urdu [duplicate]

We all have heard this proverb in Urdu and Hindi धोबी का कुत्ता न घर का न घाट का Literal translation The dog of the washerman belongs to neither the riverbank nor the house An alternative: ...

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