132 votes

English equivalent of the Malayalam saying "don't stab/poke the dead body"?

Perhaps Kick someone when they are down Cause further misfortune to someone who is already in a difficult situation. From Oxford. "Don't kick a man when he's down."
rajah9's user avatar
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120 votes

English equivalent of the Persian proverb "When there's fire, wet and dry burn together"

I really like the Persian proverb and see no reason why you couldn't use it in English conversation, although it may require some explanation. However, you could also use a phrase such as the Biblical ...
brokethebuildagain's user avatar
101 votes
Accepted

"Whatever a Russian does, they end up making the Kalashnikov gun"? Are there any similar proverbs in English?

If you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The usual form of this saying is If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, but the above form is used, and might be closer to ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
78 votes

Are there English proverbs that warn against “speaking up” in front of people?

We stole the proverb from you guys¹: The nail which sticks up gets pounded down. Unlike the squeaky wheel, of course, which gets the grease. That the former proverb originated in the East ...
Dan Bron's user avatar
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78 votes
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Proverb: If Something is Managed By Many, Things Are Missed

There is: Too many cooks spoil the broth The Free Dictionary says of the idiom “Too many cooks”: Too many people trying to control, influence, or work on something, with the quality of the ...
Jim's user avatar
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65 votes

"Whatever a Russian does, they end up making the Kalashnikov gun"? Are there any similar proverbs in English?

Another famous aphorism is the following you can't teach an old dog new tricks. said to mean that it is very difficult to teach someone new skills or to change someone's habits or character (...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
62 votes

English equivalent of the Persian proverb "When there's fire, wet and dry burn together"

One expression, which conveys the sense of consequences applying to everyone regardless of whether or not you feel they deserve it, is A rising tide lifts all boats This is often used in US ...
Mr. Shiny and New 安宇's user avatar
60 votes

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

Don’t shit where you eat. Per the Wiktionary entry, (idiomatic, vulgar) One should not cause trouble in a place, group, or situation in which one regularly finds oneself. Usage notes: Often used as ...
KRyan's user avatar
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56 votes
Accepted

Are there English proverbs that warn against “speaking up” in front of people?

There are many such idioms, not so many proverbs that I can think of. Maybe the most famous proverb on keeping silent is from Proverbs 17:28: Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise: ...
anongoodnurse's user avatar
56 votes
Accepted

English equivalent of the Malayalam saying "don't stab/poke the dead body"?

How about - Rub salt into the wound To make something that is already difficult, unpleasant, or painful even worse; to accentuate, aggravate, or intensify a negative situation, emotion, or experience ...
Justin's user avatar
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47 votes

English equivalent of the Persian proverb "When there's fire, wet and dry burn together"

Mr Shiny and New already offered one nautical idiom, but I might suggest "We're all in the same boat" as a closer match to your proverb. The meaning is that whatever happens to the "boat" will ...
bjmc's user avatar
  • 1,347
47 votes

"Whatever a Russian does, they end up making the Kalashnikov gun"? Are there any similar proverbs in English?

Not meant as a compliment, but neither is the Russian aphorism I suspect, it's a very well-known saying that claims people cannot change who they are. a leopard can't/doesn't change its spots ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
45 votes
Accepted

How many birds in the bush?

There have always been “two birds in the bush” I did not find any references that showed there ever being more than two birds, possibly nestling, in a shrub. However, some claim that the version with ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
40 votes

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

If it's not broken, don't fix it. Cambridge Dictionary gives the less formal version: if it ain't broke, don't fix it said when you recognize that something is in a satisfactory state, and there is ...
Edwin Ashworth's user avatar
40 votes

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

How about: Better the devil you know, than the devil you don't. It is often used in relation to dealing with new people - but it would also apply more widely to other choices such as you describe.
user426896's user avatar
38 votes

Idiomatic Expression that basically says "What's bad for you is good for me"

We do have an idiom for this, but it's not sure it's an exact match: One man's loss is another man's gain (Camb) when someone gets an advantage from someone else's bad luck You could use this in ...
John Feltz's user avatar
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32 votes

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

The grass is always greener on the other side Since "variety is the spice of life" implies constantly looking for new experiences as a good thing, this one implies that you should stick to ...
Graham's user avatar
  • 1,609
31 votes

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

An English proverb with the same meaning is: don't bite the hand that feeds (you), according to The Free Dictionary: Do not scorn or treat ill those on whom one depends or derives benefit, for to ...
JJJ's user avatar
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31 votes

What does 'a death by thousand cuts' mean?

This proverb "The Death of a Thousand Cuts" is somewhat analogous to another - "The Straw that Broke The Camel's Back". Both are used in relation to the cause of some undesirable ...
Kingsley's user avatar
  • 311
30 votes
Accepted

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

Bite the hand that feeds you This idiom is used by an observer to say that a party being helped attacks the helper. (The observer has a sense of unfairness about the transaction. But there is probably ...
rajah9's user avatar
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30 votes
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What does 'a death by thousand cuts' mean?

It should be understood that in modern English this is almost always used in a metaphorical sense, and hardly ever refers to a live person or animal. Rather, the reference is typically to a company or ...
Hot Licks's user avatar
  • 27.4k
28 votes

English equivalent of the Malayalam saying "don't stab/poke the dead body"?

Do not add insult to injury carries the connotation of humiliation on top of damage. See for example https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/add+insult+to+injury and the richer explanation in https://www....
XavierStuvw's user avatar
28 votes

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

Two wrongs don't make right, but three lefts do.
fraxinus's user avatar
  • 391
28 votes

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

“No good deed [ever] goes unpunished.” This is more general than how you described your phrase, because it might not be the person you helped who “punishes” you (you might say it when you get in ...
Tim Pederick's user avatar
  • 1,103
26 votes

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

This is by no means as good as the "Too many cooks" expression, but "design by committee" is a pejorative term when too many people on a committee are counterproductive in achieving its goals. Because ...
Zebrafish's user avatar
  • 12.5k
26 votes

Spoken word equivalent for "paper does not refuse ink"

Gregory Titelman, Random House Dictionary of America' Popular Proverbs and Sayings, second edition(2000) identifies a number of related expressions conveying this idea under the general title "Believe ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 163k
25 votes

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

There’s always a bigger fish conveys a similar concept: No matter how large or intimidating a person or thing is, there is likely to be an even larger or more intimidating person or thing ...
user 66974's user avatar
  • 67.3k
24 votes

"When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry." --- What does it mean?

It's a Yiddish proverb, transliterated: Wen der fater gibt men tsu zun, lachen baiden. Wen der zun gibt men tsu fater, vainen baiden. And it's literal translation is as given by the OP. Some ...
deadrat's user avatar
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24 votes
Accepted

Is "Jack of all trades, master of none" really just a part of a longer proverb?

Early versions of the proverbial phrase Martin Manser, The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs (2002) has this entry for the proverb in question: a jack of all trades is master of none Somebody who ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 163k

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