A Collection of Wisdom


Costa Rican
Middle Eastern
New Zealander
Nez Perce
North American
The Philippines
Sri Lankan

Afghan / Afghani Proverbs

You stored your milk in a straining metal…and now you’re complaining about bad luck?

There are 25 uncaught birds for a penny.

Everyone thinks his own thoughts are best.

African Proverbs

The world does not make promises to anybody.

Send a boy where he wishes to go, and you will see his best pace.

A man who pays respect to the great paves his own way for greatness.

Tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.

When the heart acts, the body is its slave.

If you live next to the cemetery, you can’t cry for everyone.

A wise man doesn’t know everything—only a fool does.

Looking for something can get in the way of finding it.

Honor a child, and he will honor you.

God conceals himself from the mind of man, but reveals himself to his heart.

Algerian Proverbs

A secret for two is soon a secret for nobody.

Albanian Proverbs

A day without work, a night without sleep.

American Proverbs

Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.

After all is said and done, more is said than done.

The opportunity of a lifetime is seldom so labeled.

An ounce of proof is worth a ton of assertions.

The road to the head lies through the heart.

Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

There are two sides to every story—and then there’s the truth.

We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

If you make yourself into a doormat, people will wipe their feet on you.

Don’t count your chickens before they’ve hatched.

We may give advice, but we cannot give conduct.

A smile is worth a thousand words.

There’s no use asking the cow to pour you a glass of milk.

When the bait’s worth more than the fish, it’s time to stop fishing.

Arabic / Arab / Arabian Proverbs

A sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to our steps as we walk the tightrope of life.

Trust God, but tie up your camel.

Throw a resourceful man into a river, and he’ll probably come out with a fish in his hand.

If you stop every time a dog barks, then your road will never end.

If man’s mouth were silent, then another part would speak.

Many wars have been caused by a single word.

How can the eater of dates prohibit the eating of dates?

It’s better to have a thousand enemies outside of the tent than one inside the tent.

Don’t pour away your water due to a mirage.

Arapaho Proverbs

If you wonder often, the gift of understanding will come.

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Argentine Proverbs

A dog that always barks gets little attention.

A man who develops himself is twice born.

Armenian Proverbs

If you chase two rabbits [at the same time], you will not catch either of them.

When someone’s wealth improves, their home’s columns suddenly appear crooked.

If you speak too much, you will learn too little.

There is no reason for war that reasonable men can’t settle.

On a rainy day, many people volunteer to water the chickens.

Australian Proverbs

Those who lose dreaming are lost.

The clash of ideas brings forth the spark of truth.

We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love; and then we return home.

Austrian Proverbs

(Also see German Proverbs)

A light is still a light, even though the blind man cannot see it.

Azerbaijani Proverbs

Laughter is the remedy for 1001 illnesses.

Basque Proverbs

Things used to be that way, now they’re this way, and who knows what they will be like later?

A strong attack is half the battle won.

Bengali / Bangladeshi Proverbs

The poor search for food, and the rich search for hunger.

You can have your nose broken easily if you put it in other people’s business.

Biblical Proverbs

Do not reprove a scorner, lest he hate you: rebuke a wise person, and he will love you.

Do not boast of tomorrow—for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise, than for a man to hear the song of fools. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fool—this also is vanity.

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not [always] to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill—but time and chance happens to them all.

Bhutanese Proverbs

On the battlefield, there is no distinction between upper and lower class.

You must first walk around a little before you can understand the distance from the valley to the mountain.

Bosnian & Herzegovinan Proverbs

Clean your own yard first before asking others to clean theirs.

Two things rule the world: reward and punishment.

Someone who lies for you will also lie against you.

Bulgarian Proverbs

A gentle word opens an iron gate.

Burkinabe Proverbs

If you haven’t been to two different bazaars, you don’t know the best value.

Burundi Proverbs

The fetus that fears criticism will never be born.

Cambodian / Khmer Proverbs

Don’t trust a hungry man to watch your rice.

Cameroonian Proverbs

By trying repeatedly, the monkey learns how to jump from the tree.

If the fight is tomorrow, why clench your fist today?

Chad / Basutoland Proverbs

A man with too much ambition cannot sleep in peace.

Cherokee Proverbs

Do not allow yesterday to spend up too much of today.

Cheyenne Proverbs

Do not judge a person ‘til you have walked two moons in his moccasins.

Chinese Proverbs

People doing the same things might have different motives.

If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.

Virtue and vice, wisdom and folly are not hereditary.

To make a man of yourself you must toil.

In the midst of great joy, do not promise to give a man anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer a man’s letter.

If for one day one does not meditate upon goodness, all [kinds of] wickedness will spring up of themselves.

A pure heart has few desires.

Show compassion to others’ misfortunes, and rejoice in their excellences.

When you converse, let it be with the wise; when you give food, let it be to the hungry.

The door of good works is difficult to open—but when opened, it is difficult to close.

Doing good gives the greatest happiness; study gives the greatest good.

If the mirror is highly polished, the dust will not stain it; if the heart is enlightened, evil desires will not arise in it.

An hour may destroy the work of a hundred years.

Nowadays, people are shortsighted—they regard the outward appearance as important, but not the virtue.

If you wrangle over things of little importance, then you lose the great Way.

Listening well is as powerful as talking well, and is also as essential to true conversation.

Do not believe that you will reach your destination without leaving the shore.

If you ask for directions rudely, you might end up many miles from your destination.

Listen to all, pluck a feather from every passing goose, but follow no one absolutely.

Better to be without a book than to believe a book entirely.

Cheat your conscience, and a whole life’s happiness is destroyed.

Have but few friends, though much acquaintance.

Close to a blacksmith, learn to hammer out nails; close to a carpenter, learn how to use a saw.

One man spreads a false report, and a hundred report it as truth.

Some people want to be praised for the rest of their lives for what they did well for one day.

The melon seller does not announce, “Bitter melons.”

Solve one problem, and you keep a hundred others away.

If you want to avoid being cheated, ask for prices at three different stores.

If a girl seems as shy as a mouse, you still have to look out for the tiger within her.

Some study shows the need for more.

Near vermilion one gets stained pink; near ink one gets stained black. Near putrid fish you’ll stink; near the epidendrum you’ll be fragrant. [One takes the color and odor of one’s company.]

You may deceive people. You cannot deceive Heaven.

The smallest desire to do good is—though not seen by man—certainly known to Heaven.

It is for me to put forth the utmost effort; it rests with Heaven to give success to my plans.

The error of one moment becomes the sorrow of a whole life.

He who waits for a roast duck to fly in his mouth must wait a very long time.

It is easier to visit friends than to live with them.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

A hobbling cat is better than a fast horse when rats swarm the palace.

In a group of many words, there is bound to be a mistake.

With a helmsman [i.e. leader] that is not nervous, the passengers [i.e. followers] [will feel] secure.

All language is not in books, nor all thoughts in language.

He who has seen little is astonished at much.

If a man keeps his mouth shut, his words become proverbial.

The way to close the mouth of a slanderer is to treat him with contempt.

Great profits, great risks.

Who is the greatest liar? Who talks most of himself.

A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.

Joy is not a horse. You cannot harness it.

When economy goes south, people get political.

If you want to find out about the road ahead, then ask about it from those coming back.

Easy to open a shop, hard to keep it open.

There are two kinds of perfect people: those who are dead, and those who have not been born yet.

A man who cannot tolerate small misfortunes can never accomplish great things.

If you want your children to have a peaceful life, let them suffer a little hunger and a little coldness.

The people who talk the best are not the only ones who can tell you the most interesting things.

The people sitting in the free theatre seats are the first ones to boo.

Ripe fruit falls by itself, but it doesn’t fall in your mouth.

To know another is not to know that person’s face, but to know that person’s heart.

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.

Better the cottage where one is merry than the palace where one weeps.

He who has never been cheated cannot be a good businessman.

He who thinks too much about every step he takes will always stay on one leg.

Of all female qualities, a warm heart is the most valuable.

Before preparing to improve the world, first look around your own home three times.

All things change, and we change with them.

Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

Do not tear down the east wall to repair the west wall.

If you want an audience, start a fight.

Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength.

Learning is a weightless treasure you can always carry easily.

Married couples tell each other a thousand things without speech.

An accidental meeting is more pleasant than a planned one.

Congo Proverbs

He who does not like chattering woman will remain a bachelor.

A day of hunger is not starvation.

If you are too modest, you will go hungry.

The teeth are smiling, but is the heart?

You do not teach the paths of the forest to an old gorilla.

Croatian Proverbs

It is easy for someone to talk about fasting when he has a full belly.

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Cuban Proverbs

Seven sons of one mother, and each one of a different mind.

Every head is a world.

Brief encounters can result in long relationships.

When money talks, everyone else is silent.

How can you trust anyone who doesn’t know how to blush?

Life is short; but it barely takes a second to smile.

Listen to what they say about others, and you will know what they say about you.

Czech / Slovakian / Czechoslovakian Proverbs

What is soon ripe is soon rotten.

The way to be safe is to never feel secure.

Only in water can you learn to swim.

The person who God shows a treasure to must dig it out himself.

Danish Proverbs

Truth must be seasoned to make it palatable.

Money is more eloquent than a dozen members of parliament.

Many a man labors for the day he will never live to see.

Many a man is a good friend but a bad neighbor.

Better to ask twice than to lose your way once.

Dominican Proverbs

A rainbow would be considered even more beautiful if it wasn’t free.

This world’s current nature is to celebrate the dead saints and persecute the living ones.

It’s not the load that kills—it’s the excessive load.

Dutch Proverbs / Holland / Netherlands

He who is outside his door already has a major part of his journey behind him.

Wise people can’t answer the most foolish questions.

Who undertakes many things at once, seldom does any of them well.

Milk the cow, but don’t pull off the udder.

Skill and assurance are an invincible combination/couple.

A praying pirate is definitely a sign of danger.

Egyptian Proverbs

He has his own brain—he can solve his own problems.

English Proverbs

Undertake no more than you can perform.

Do not climb the hill until you get to it.

The measure of our own sacrifice is the measure of our love.

Too much familiarity breeds contempt.

Pride goes before; shame follows after.

Prosperous men seldom mend their faults.

He gains a good deal who loses a vain hope.

Set a thief to catch a thief.

Some are atheists only in fair Wwather.

Strike while the iron is hot.

Better to be safe than sorry.

My mind to me is a kingdom.

Actions speak louder than words.

A good example is the best sermon.

Some are very busy and yet do nothing.

Some have been thought brave because they were afraid to run away.

Half the world does not know how the other half lives.

He that is warm thinks all are so.

Success makes a fool seem wise.

A change is as good as a rest.

If he deceives me once, shame on him; if he deceives me twice, shame on me.

An artist lives everywhere.

In a calm sea, every man is a pilot.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

A stitch in time saves nine.

Creditors have better memories than debtors.

Do not triumph before the victory.

You never miss the water till the well runs dry.

Buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest.

A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.

Cursing the weather is never good farming.

Estonian Proverbs

The work will teach you how to do it.

Ethiopian Proverbs

Advise and counsel him; if he does not listen, let adversity teach him.

A close friend can become a close enemy.

The fool is thirsty in the midst of water.

When the hyena is gone, the dog barks.

Fijian Proverbs

Life is like this: sometimes sun, sometimes rain.

Finnish Proverbs

A bark leaves no marks if you don’t let the dog bite.

Being in love is like feeling the sun from both sides.

French Proverbs

Money is a good servant but a bad master.

One-half of the world laughs at the other half.

No dish pleases all palates alike.

Vanity has no greater foe than vanity.

Promising and performing are two things.

He is past preaching who does not care to do well.

Better be envied than pitied.

Life is half spent before one knows what life is.

A hundred years of idleness are not worth one hour well employed.

A true gentleman will respect woman even in her weakness.

The happiness of the human race in this world does not consist in our being devoid of passions, but in our learning to command them.

Women will believe any lie that is wrapped in praise.

Do not find fault with what you do not understand.

Courtesy that is all on one side cannot last long.

Do not rely on the label of the bag.

Some think they are done when they are only beginning.

No one will get a bargain he does not ask for.

Friends are lost by calling too often and by not calling often enough.

If you want to totally avoid being deceived, get married on February 30th.

One dog’s piss will not pollute the ocean.

It is a double pleasure to deceive the deceiver.

I have so much to do, that I am going to bed.

You cannot be very smart if you have never done anything foolish.

A rich man has more relatives than he knows about.

A good meal should begin with hunger.

Vive la difference.

There are more foolish buyers than foolish sellers.

Comparison is not proof.

Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

Late is worth more than never

Paris was not made in a day.

To want to forget something is to remember it.

When you rely too much on reason, you end up not relying enough on feeling.

There is no such thing as an insignificant enemy.

The meaning is best known to the speaker.

The common property donkey is the worst saddled.

Remember that everyone you ever meet is sure to fear something, to love something, and to have lost something.

Do not talk about a rope in the house of someone whose father was hung.

Gabonese Proverbs

Bad friends will prevent you from having good friends.

Georgian Proverbs

Whomever I love is the most beautiful.

German Proverbs

If you want to perform a good jump, sometimes you need to start by taking a step back.

When you sweep stairs, start at the top.

No person can like all, or be liked by all.

Confidence begets confidence.

An enemy that is surprised is already half-defeated.

To change and to change for the better are two different things.

What good is it to run when you’re on the wrong road?

It’s hard to scare someone who thinks he will benefit from dying.

“It has not” does not mean “it will not.”

Great pains cause us to forget the small ones.

Your friend’s enemy might be your best friend.

If you wish to be valued, make yourself scarce.

A fence between makes love more keen.

There is more disputing about the shell than the kernel.

There are plenty of preachers who don’t hear themselves.

When the thief is seen [stealing], he says he is joking; but when the thief is not seen, he steals.

No lie so gross that it does not find believers.

A good lie finds more believers than a bad truth.

An old lie is often more popular than a new truth.

Truth that is poorly timed is as bad as a lie.

Who does right is born of God.

Who is healthy and free is rich.

Repentance does not bring the lost back.

Lost time never returns.

When there is no love, all faults are seen.

Work is good, as long as you don’t forget to live.

Painted flowers have no scent.

Guard your mouth as well as you guard your chest.

Loving and singing are two things that should not be forced.

Ghanaian Proverbs

The tongue kills a man and the tongue saves a man. (Ashanti)

Only a fool tests the water’s depth with both feet.

One lie spoils a thousand truths.

Greek Proverbs

Think with the wise, but talk with the vulgar.

Every story can be told in different ways.

Many pupils have gained more wealth than their masters.

Many know how to flatter; few know how to praise.

One minute of patience can result in ten years of peace.

Guatemalan Proverbs

A good name hides thievery.

Don’t hate someone for telling the truth.

Haitian Proverbs

To speak French does not mean that you are smart.

[French is seldom spoken in Haiti, and usually used to try to impress others]

Hebrew / Jewish / Israeli Proverbs

The road to Heaven is difficult, but the ways to Hell are easy.

Don’t be too sweet, or else you’ll be eaten up; don’t be too bitter, or else you’ll be spitted out.

Don’t trust someone who tells you all of his troubles and keeps you from all of his joys.

There is no book that contains absolutely nothing bad, and there is no book that contains absolutely nothing good.

If someone is coming to kill you, get up early and kill him first.

A defendant’s confession is worth a hundred witnesses.

A good son-in-law is like the acquisition of a new son; a bad one is like the loss of your daughter.

Jewish Folktales

Hindustani / Hindu Proverbs

Diet cures more than the surgical knife.

Regularity is the best medicine.

No one can be a totally fair judge in his own case.

Dig your well before you are thirsty.

In a treeless country, the castor plant is a big tree.

The living things of the Earth depend on each other just like the limbs and organs of the body.

An elephant, no matter how skinny, is valuable.

Hopi Proverbs

Don’t be afraid to weep—it will free your mind from sad thoughts.

You must live your life from start to finish; no one can do it for you.

Hungarian Proverbs

A habit is first a wanderer, then a guest, and finally the boss.

In much talk there is much irrelevancy.

It’s natural to have some disagreement between husband and wife.

A bashful beggar will have an empty wallet.

Icelandic Proverbs

When your neighbor’s wall breaks, your own is in danger.

A man’s will can be his paradise, but it can also be his hell.

Pissing in your shoes won’t keep your feet warm for very long

A sitting crow starves.

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Indian Proverbs

The baby has not been born yet, and yet you assert that his nose is like his grandfather’s!

When a crow is killed by a storm, the fortuneteller says, “He died by my curse.”

Even if fed milk, a snake will still emit poison.

Pearls are worthless in the desert.

Indonesian Proverbs

Nothing is difficult when you get used to it.

Most people don’t announce their faults with a gong.

Iranian / Persian Proverbs

It takes ten pounds of common sense to carry one pound of learning.

The night hides a world, but reveals a universe.

Solved riddles look easy.

Necessity can change a lion into a fox.

The way a house is decorated will tell much about its owner.

Don’t just take love—experience it.

Every man is king of his own beard.

You can close the city gates, but you can’t close the people’s mouths.

A timely tear is better than a misplaced smile.

A sword in the hands of a drunken slave is less dangerous than science in the hands of the unscrupulous.

Only a heart can find the way to another heart.

A wise man can laugh at his jokes.

The elephant dreams of one thing, and the elephant driver dreams of another.

The fox uses his tale as a witness.

The person who wants a rose must respect the thorn.

A camel that wants fodder stretches out its neck.

Injustice all around is justice!

I used to complain because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.

I used to complain because I had no shoes until I met a man who was dead.

A quality statement often gets no answer.

A greedy man is always poor.

A single rose does not mean that it is spring.

A drowning man is not bothered by rain.

Curiosity is the key to knowledge.

Marriage is an uncut watermelon.

The joy of finding something is often worth more than what is found.

Iraqi Proverbs

All authors should prepare to encounter criticism.

Sometimes you must sacrifice your beard in order to save your head.

Irish Proverbs

A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures in the doctor’s book.

No time for your health today, no health for your time tomorrow.

The thief is sorry he is to be hanged, but not that he is a thief.

Bricks and mortar make a house, but the laughter of children make a home.

Every eye forms its own fancy.

He is bad that will not take advice, but he is a thousand times worse that takes every advice.

Italian Proverbs

Of future and contingent matters, we can have no definite knowledge.

It is easier to threaten than to kill.

He that will not strive in this world should not have come into it.

Sometimes it’s better to give your apple, than eat it yoursself.

There are some who despise pride with greater pride.

He who offends writes on sand, he who is offended on marble.

Live and let live.

Who knows most believes least.

Many a true word is spoken in jest.

Not every question deserves an answer.

Better once than never.

All the brains are not in one head.

If a fox is preaching, beware of your geese.

Good is good, but better beats it.

The person who enjoys good health is rich, even if he doesn’t know it.

Beware of the person with nothing to lose.

As soon as a new law is made, a way around it is devised.

Experience runs a valuable school, but fools learn in no other.

If you dig a pit for others, you might fall into it yourself!

The remedy is often worse than the disease.

Necessity is a great teacher.

Yes and no rule the world.

To the person who watches, everything reveals itself.

The sun passes over filth and is not dirtied.

I might have lost my ring, but I still have my fingers!

Better untaught than ill taught.

Yielding is sometimes the best way of succeeding.

Sometimes it’s better to give your apple away than to eat it yourself.

It’s no time to play chess when the house is on fire.

A bow that is bent too far will break.

Preventing someone from falling is better than helping him get up.

If you stumble more than once over the same stump, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Jamaican Proverbs

Poun ah fret cyaan pay ounce ah det

What good a educayshun if him got noh sens.

All kine ah fish eat man, but only shark get de blame.

Japanese Proverbs

The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.

Even monkeys fall from trees.

A frog in a well does not know the great sea.

Clear sky, cultivate; rainy, read.

A few kind words can warm three winter months.

Time spent laughing is time spent with the kami.

Character can be built on daily routine.

A single arrow is easily broken, but ten in a bundle aren’t.

It’s better to lie a little than to be unhappy.

A crying child thrives.

Flattery is the best persuader.

Without a smiling face do not become a merchant.

All pursuits are mean in comparison with learning.

Man cannot reach perfection in a hundred years; he can fall in a day with time to spare.

Books are preserved minds.

To a person that does not wander, there is not enlightenment.

You can’t see the whole sky through a bamboo tube.

The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour.

Kashmir Proverbs

Saving the mustard seeds in your hand might cause you to miss out on getting a watermelon.

For every hundred lashes needed by the foolish, only one word is needed by the wise.

If a man’s beard is on fire, there are bound to be plenty of people who will want to warm their hands on its heat.

[When well united and synergized,] One plus one equals eleven.

The healthy person experiences a healthy world.

The message spoken to the daughter is often aimed at the daughter-in-law.

The innocent often pay for the acts of the guilty.

Kenyan Proverbs

The enemy you know is better than the one you do not know.

Korean Proverbs

Anyone who goes hungry for three days will be inclined to steal.

Put something off for one day, and ten days will pass.

Even if the sky falls on you, there is a hole you can escape from.

Kurdish Proverbs

Be swift if you are a hammer; be patient if you are an anvil.

A good companion shortens the longest road.

You are as wise as your mind, not your years.

Dealing with yourself is harder than dealing with the rest of the world.

Search yourself, and you will find God.

Kyrgyz Proverbs / Kirghiz

The satiated do not understand the concern of the hungry.

To the person who takes, six is not enough; to the person who gives, five is too much.

One who is extremely intelligent might turn crazy.

Lao Proverbs

When the water rises, the fish eat the ants; when the water falls, the ants eat the fish.

Latin Proverbs

There is no disputing about tastes.

We are born; we die.

While we live, let us live.

You teach the dolphin to swim.

He who increases knowledge increases sorrow.

The hatred of knaves is preferable to their company.

Many will hate you if you love yourself.

Attempt nothing beyond your strength.

He puts up with small annoyances to gain great results.

Every advantage has its disadvantage.

Advice is not a popular thing to give.

Times change, and we change with them.

The gods sell all things to hard labor.

You may drive Nature out with a pitchfork, but she will inevitably return.

A joke should not be carried too far.

Never descend to vulgarity, even in joking.

Every virtue is but half way between two vices.

If you be a jester, keep your wit till you have use for it.

The good hate to sin from love of virtue; the bad hate to sin from fear of punishment.

Some things are better praised by silence than remark.

It is necessary to risk something.

Danger can never be overcome without taking risks.

It is better to be always prepared than to suffer once.

If you desire peace, be ever prepared for war.

He who seeks a reason for everything subverts reason.

The office shows the man.

Latvian Proverbs

No matter how much you eat, save some seeds for sowing.

If the fool has a hump, no one notices it; if the wise man has a pimple, everybody talks about it. (Livonian)

Lebanese Proverbs

Love overlooks defects; hatred magnifies them.

The person who knew you when you were young will seldom respect you as an adult.

Some men build a wine cellar after only finding one grape.

When you return from a trip, bring back something for your family—even if it is only a stone.

If anyone is not willing to accept your point of view, try to see his point of view.

Lower your voice and strengthen your argument.

Liberian Proverbs

Do not look where you fell; look where you slipped.

Gossiping about the enemy can result in a war.

Every head must do its own thinking.

Libyan Proverbs

Each trip gives you its own uniqueness.

If everyone thought the same way, no goods would ever be sold.

Macedonian Proverbs

If my neighbor is happy, my own work will go easier, too.

Malawi Proverbs

While the sun is shining, bask in it!

Malaysian Proverbs

If you are too shy to ask, you might lose your way.

When you go away, the conversation changes.

If you plant grass, you won’t get rice

No matter how big the whale is, a tiny harpoon can kill him.

To truly love your wife, leave her alone every once in a while.

Mali Proverbs

No matter how many house chores you complete, there are always more to be done.

If the rabbit is your enemy, admit he can sprint fast.

Maltese Proverbs

He who thinks about his own grief forgets about the grief of others.

The law is not made for the rich.

Enjoy yourself, for there is nothing in the world we can call our own.

Mexican Proverbs

The rat who only knows about one hole will soon be caught by the cat.

Since excuses were invented, no one is ever in the wrong. *

He who speaks too much is tiresome; he who speaks to little is boring.

He who lingers around will hear bad things spoken about him.

He who follows his own advice must take the consequences.

If you want to live in peace, you mustn’t tell everything you know, or judge everything you see.

If you don’t honor your wife, you are dishonoring yourself.

Mongolian Proverbs

Even foul water will put out a fire.

It is easier to catch an escaped horse than to take back an escaped word.

Myanmar / Burmese Proverbs

Don’t use up your arrows before you go to battle.

Sparrows who mimic peacocks are likely to break a thigh.

If you really want honesty, don’t ask questions you don’t really want answers to.

Namibian Proverbs

The cat and the mouse can’t be neighbors for long.

The zebra told the white horse, “I am white,” and told the black horse, “I am actually black.”

Native American Proverbs

Even a small mouse has anger.

Navajo Proverbs

A spear is a big responsibility.

Nepalese Proverbs

Opportunities come, but do not linger.

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New Zealander Proverbs (incl. Maori)

A house full of people is filled with different points of view.

Don’t spend time with people who don’t respect you.

There is more than one way to achieve a goal.

Take time to enjoy life’s roses.

Persist as tenaciously as you persist in eating.

Nigerian Proverbs

Frowning and fierceness do not prove manliness.

Rain does not make friends with anybody—it falls on any person it meets outside.

The house roof fights the rain, but he who is sheltered ignores it.

Being happy in one’s home is better than being a chief.

You know who you love, but you can’t know who loves you.

Until lions have their own historians, accounts of the hunt will always celebrate the hunter.

A wealthy man will always have followers.

It takes a whole village to raise a child.

Character is religion.

If you say yes, your [personal] God will also say yes.

Nigerien Proverbs

When the music changes, so does the dance.

Norwegian Proverbs

You may go where you want, but you cannot escape yourself.

Afterthought is good, but forethought is better

Bad is called good when worse happens.

Okinawan Proverbs

Even if you hide yourself from the world, don’t lose sight of your real nature.

Respect old people, and be gentle with children.

One who eats plain food is healthy.

Omaha Proverbs

Ask questions from your heart, and you will receive answers from your heart.

It is easy to show braveness from a safe distance.

Omani Proverbs

Live near water, and ask not about sustenance.

Philippine / Filipino / Tagalog Proverbs

If you like what you are doing, nothing is too far and no job is too hard.

Avoiding danger is not cowardice.

Courage without discretion is no good.

Alertness and courage are life’s shield.

No matter how much care is taken, someone will always be misled.

It is easier to dam a river than to stop the flow of gossip.

The child who is given everything he asks for usually won’t succeed in life.

Even if the truth is buried for centuries, it will eventually come out and thrive.

A good character is real beauty that never fades.

The person who makes an error should be taught, and not made fun of.

If you buy things you don’t need, you will soon be selling things you do need.

Polish Proverbs

If each person would sweep before his own house, the city would soon be clean.

God promised me a fur coat, and I am already sweating.

Truth can take you everywhere…including jail!

Portuguese (Portugal) Proverbs

He who is well prepared has already won half of the battle.

Not much can be done when everyone is giving orders.

The dog wags his tail, not for you, but for your bread.

Hell is paved with good intentions, and roofed with lost opportunities.

Pueblo Proverbs

Never sleep while your meat is cooking on the fire.

Puerto Rican Proverbs

Do not fear a stain that disappears with water.

What might not happen in a year might happen in an instant.

Roma / Rom / Gypsy Proverbs

The journey is just as important as the destination.

The dog that trots about finds a bone.

We are all wanders of this earth; our hearts are full of wonder and our souls are full of dreams.

Romanian Proverbs

After the war, many heroes present themselves.

Without other people’s companionship, even paradise would be an unlikable place.

Choose a wife to please yourself, not others.

The eyes have one language everywhere.

Better late than never.

The blessing of having many children has never broken a man’s roof.

Russian Proverbs

Hope in the Lord, but exert yourself.

A hammer breaks glass, but also forms steel.

Trust, but verify.

Everyone has his own Czar in his head.

One day before you is better than ten years behind you.

If the child does not cry, the mother won’t know what it wants.

It is easier to bear a child once a year than to shave everyday.

A person never gets tired working for himself.

You can get used to anything—even hell.

Many people who have gold in the house are looking for copper outside.

Rwandan Proverbs

In the birds’ court, a cockroach never wins his case.

You can outrun what is running after you, but not what is running inside of you.

If you are building something and a nail breaks, should you stop building altogether, or should you change the nail?

Work is good, as long as you don’t forget to live.

Salvadorian / Salvadoran Proverbs

Better to prevent than regret.

Samoan Proverbs

In every generation there are some outstanding chiefs.

A careless person will be taken by surprise by his observant enemy.

The person with burnt fingers asks for tongs.

It is useless to shake the branch that bears no fruit.

Let each person do his share of the work.

Samurai Proverbs

Control your emotion or it will control you.

Sanskrit Proverbs

The greatest hero is the person who controls his desires.

You can’t cook one half of a chicken and expect the other half to lay eggs.

Sauk Proverbs

Look at your own moccasin tracks before pronouncing someone else’s faults.

You cannot purchase friendship—you have to do your part to make it.

Scottish / Scotch

Rather spoil your joke than lose your friend.

Please yourself and you’ll please somebody.

Better to bend than to break.

Be happy while you’re living, for you’re a long time dead.

Many a good tale is spoiled in the telling.

Seneca Proverbs

Before leaving your host, give him a little present—it will serve as a little courtesy, and will not offend.

The more often you ask how much farther you have to go, the longer your quest will feel. *

Senegal Proverbs

If you wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes. If you don’t wait for tomorrow, tomorrow comes.

He may say that he loves you, wait and see what he does for you.

Serbian & Montenegrin Proverbs

We won the war, but we lost peace.

Believing is easier than investigating.

Complain to someone who can help you.

You are not being honest if you burn your tongue and don’t tell everyone else the soup is hot.

Shoshone Proverbs

Some people are smart but not wise.

Singaporean / Malay Proverbs

Where there is a sea, there are pirates.

The person who can see a house in China is unaware of an elephant on his nose.

Sinhala Proverbs

When the dogs bark at the moon, the moon is not brought down because of it.

Sioux Proverbs

When a man moves from nature, his heart becomes hard.

True peace between nations will only happen when there is true peace within people’s souls.

Spanish Proverbs

Let not the tongue utter what the head must pay for.

Though the speaker be a fool, let the hearer be wise.

He who has no shame has no conscience.

What does not happen in a year may happen in a moment.

Tomorrow’s remedy will not ward off the evil of today.

Don’t believe what you see, but only what I tell you.

He who follows his own advice must take the consequences.

Make your affairs known in the marketplace, and one will call them black and another white.

Begin in other people’s way so as to end by having your own way.

What is much desired is not believed when it comes.

Every season brings its joy.

If you want to be respected, you must respect yourself.

The person who plants the lettuce does not always eat the salad.

It is beautiful to do nothing and then rest afterwards.

Give the grateful man more than he asks for.

He who talks a lot is bound to be right sometimes.

I dance to the tune that is played.

If you don’t pay a servant his wages, then he will pay himself.

If someone cannot even keep his own secrets, don’t count on him to keep someone else’s.

Tomorrow is often the busiest time of the year.

The secret of patience is to do something else in the meantime.

Sell publicly and buy privately.

Buy from people who are desperate, and sell to newlyweds.

He that has a good harvest must be able to endure a few thistles.

Every person is a fool in some person’s opinion.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

When the cat’s away, the mice will play

Talking about bulls is not the same thing as being in the bullring.

A gentle breeze blowing in the right direction is better than a pair of strong oars. (Canary Islands)

Sufi Proverbs

Never be enslaved to principles.

When a pickpocket sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets.

Swedish Proverbs

Don’t cross the stream to find water.

Don’t throw away an old bucket until you know the new one holds water.

Those who want to sing will always find a song.

Shared joy is double joy.

Swiss Proverbs

Sometimes you must be silent in order to be heard

Syrian Proverbs

A small house is enough room for a thousand friends.

Taiwanese Proverbs

It takes sweat to work, but only saliva to criticize.

A husband and wife often fight intensely at one moment and then kiss intensely at the next moment.

A beautiful person might not have a beautiful life.

Some prefer liquor, others prefer tofu, and some even like rotten salmon.

Greed will cause pain.

If someone transports dung and does not eat it, don’t conclude that he is an honest person.


Live well. It is the greatest revenge.

The sun will set without your assistance.

If your business does not prosper in one town, try another.

It is better to lend than to give. To give employment is better than either.

Cold water, morning and evening, is better than all the cosmetics.

There is a great difference between him who is ashamed before his own self, and him who is only ashamed before others.

Tamil Proverbs

A good husband might have a bad wife, and a bad wife might have a good husband.

When shopping for a cow, make sure the price of the tail is included.

Tanzanian Proverbs

A person who is not disciplined cannot be cautioned.

Little by little, a little becomes a lot.

Help me during the flood, and I will help you during the drought.

Thai Proverbs

The sweetness of food doesn’t last long, but the sweetness of good words do.

Tibetan Proverbs

Who can say for sure that one will live to see tomorrow?

Landing a single punch on your enemies nose is more satisfying than hearing well-intentioned advice from your elders.

Spreading the news is also multiplying it.

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Tunisian Proverbs

If you see someone riding a bamboo-cane, tell him “What a lovely horse!”

[Allow others to enjoy their own fantasies]

Better to blush than to keep the concern in your heart.

The enemy of your belly: 40 years.

Call someone “master,” and he’ll sell you at an auction.

Those who flee from taxes and rent flee from selling and buying.

He who builds a mill must also have a bell.

Better to wait patiently [for the real] than rush into a thing of illusion.

A thirsty person will accept polluted water.

In dealing with a powerful person, either be nice to him, avoid him, or allow him to speak without answering him.

You hate me, but God will remember me.

Pretend you are crazy, and you will survive.

By telling the truth, your head will be cracked.

A bad year will pass; a bad mind will not pass.

Though I am rich, I still enjoy receiving gifts.

Everyone lives—the person with one coat, the person with two, and even the person with none.

When somebody comes to you and shows you respect, serve him your dinner and make his bed.

Turkish Proverbs

If the time does not suit you, suit yourself to the time.

Baghdad is not remote for a lover.

Few deserve a happy life.

One eats while another watches—that is how revolutions are begun.

Death is a black camel that lies down at every door. Sooner or later you must ride the camel.

There is not a single season without fruit.

If you search for a faultless woman, you will remain a bachelor.

Uighur Proverbs

If a guest doesn’t want to stay, it’s better to let him go.

Who do I to sue for my own faults?

If the boss is full, no one will care if the slave is hungry.

Ugandan Proverbs

The hunter who is tracking an elephant does not stop to throw stones at birds.

The laughter of a child is the light of a house.

Ukrainian Proverbs

No matter how hard you try, a bull will never give milk.

Uzbek Proverbs

Have breakfast yourself; share lunch with your friend; and give dinner to your enemy.

Vietnamese Proverbs

The buffalo that arrives late will have to drink muddy water and eat dry grass.

When you eat, it’s vegetables; when you’re sick, it’s medicine.

It’s better to have lots of children than to have lots of material goods.

No matter how sharp it is, a knife will never cut it’s own handle.

Yiddish Proverbs

Health comes before making a livelihood.

A person should stay alive, if only out of curiosity.

Every answer can result in a new question.

Being too nice can cost a lot.

If one soldier understood the thoughts of another, there would be no wars.

Cold strengthens you more than hunger.

A penny saved is a penny earned, but sometimes a penny is better spent than saved.

God created people because he loves stories.

When brains are needed, brawn won’t help.

Zen Proverbs

If you understand, things are just as they are. If you do not understand, things are just as they are.


A friend is a person with whom you dare to be yourself

Friendships multiply joys and divide griefs.

I will be your friend, but not your vice’s friend.

A friend that you buy with presents will be bought from you.

A wicked companion invites us all to hell.

He will never get to Heaven, that desires to go there alone.

He who imparts wisdom to another purifies and exalts his own mind.

Teaching of others teaches the teacher.

‘Tis in vain to speak reason where it will not be heard.

Argument seldom convinces any one contrary to his inclinations.

If the counsel be good, no matter who gave it.

Truth may sometimes come out of the Devil’s mouth.

Truth needs not many words; but a false tale, a large preamble.

If you pay not a servant his wages, he will pay himself.

Men work but slowly, that have poor wages.

Men are less eager for what they may have than what they cannot obtain.

For one rich man that is content there are a hundred who are not.

If you make money your God, it will plague you like a Devil.

We are born crying, live complaining, and die disappointed.

A man may be happy here and hereafter without much fame or wealth.

It is good pride to desire to be the best of men.

A man may have a just esteem of himself without being proud.

Sickness is felt, but health not at all.

Sickness will spoil the happiness of an emperor, as well as mine.

Against the wild-fire of the mob there’s no defensee.

Do as others do, and few will mock you.

Do as most do, and men will speak well of you.

The envious hurts others something, but himself very much.

A wicked man is his own hell; and his passions and lusts the fiends that torment him.

As virtue is its own reward, so vice is its own punishment.

He that resists his own evil inclinations obeys God.

Do all you can to be good, and you’ll be so.

Good deeds remain; all things else perish.

He benefits himself, that does good to others.

The true gentleman is God’s servant, the world’s master, and his own man.

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.

He that lives a knave will hardly die an honest man.

Heaven is a cheap purchase, whatever it cost.

Man had perished long ago, had it not been for public spirited persons.

Most people are more comfortable with old problems than with new solutions.

Money talks—mostly lies.

A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.

We think all men mortal but ourselves.

We too often love things and use people, when we should be using things and loving people.

Choose a job that you like, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Thirty is the turning point in a man’s life.

You gain power over another person by winning his heart or by breaking his spirit.

The gods delight to see a man struggling to succeed.

It is easier to prevent ill habits than to break them.

A danger foreseen is half avoided.

A fair booty makes many a thief.

A stumble may prevent a fall.

Adversity oftentimes leads to prosperity.

Anger is short-lived in a good man.

Bad excuses are worse than none.

Better go back than lose yourself.

Best dealing with an enemy when you take him at his weakest.

Bitter pills may have wholesome effects.

Correction should not respect so much what is past, as what is to come.

One danger is seldom overcome without another.

None can think so well of others as most do of themselves.

Everyone thinks himself able to advise another.

Every fool can find faults that a great many wise men can’t remedy.

Everything has its time, and that time must be watched.

Fear can keep a man out of danger, but courage only can support him in it.

Flattery fits in the parlor when plain dealing is kicked out of doors.

Friendship and company are a bad excuse for ill actions.

Even doubtful accusations leave a stain behind them.

He invites future injuries, who rewards past ones.

He is no wise man, that cannot play the fool upon occasion.

He is not a virtuous man, that loves it not even in an enemy.

He shall have enough to do, who studies to please fools.

He that falls today may be up again tomorrow.

He that follows Nature is never out of his way.

He that has most time has none to lose.

To blush at vice shows the world you are ashamed of it.

He that has no shame has no conscience.

He that stays in the valley shall never get over the hill.

He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea.

Everyone’s faults are not written in their foreheads.

He that would right understand a man must read his whole story.

At the end of the work, you may judge of the Wwrkman.

Our pity is often misapplied; for none can tell what another feels.

The first step to virtue is to love virtue in another man.

The maintaining of one vice costs more than ten virtues.

He that lives on hope has but a slender diet.

He that speaks ill of his wife dishonors himself.

If we are bound to forgive an enemy, we are not bound to trust him.

If we be enemies to ourselves, whither shall we fly?

It is in vain to use words when deeds are expected.

Justice will not condemn even the Devil himself wrongfully.

Kings have no power over souls.

Man begins to die before he is born.

Many get into a dispute well that cannot get out well.

Natural folly is bad enough; but learned folly is intolerable.

No man can always stand his ground.

One cannot live by selling goods for words.

One may be confuted, and yet not convinced.

Play may be good, but folly can never be of any use.

Praise not the ford till you are safe over.

Quarrels could not last long, were but prudence on one side.

Seek not to reform every one’s dial by your own watch.

Solitude dulls the thought, too much company dissipates it.

Some men's No is better received than others Yea.

That sick man is not to be pitied, who has his cure in his sleeve.

The greatest barkers are not the greatest biters.

The nature of things will not be altered by our fancies of them.

The race is got by running.

The usefullest truths are the plainest.

The vulgar will keep no account of your hits, but of your misses.

The way to be safe is never to be secure.

There is no usual rule without an exception.

They love dancing well, that dance barefoot upon thorns.

Things not understood are admired.

‘Tis harder to unlearn than learn.

This, or any moment, may be your last.

Our whole life is but a greater and longer childhood.

Proverbs are the people’s wisdom. Russian Proverb

Proverbs are short sentences drawn from long experience. Miguel De Cervantes

A proverb is much matter distilled into few words. R. Buckminster Fuller

A proverb is the child of experience. English Proverb

There is often more spiritual force in a proverb than in whole philosophical systems. Thomas Carlyle

The proverb answers where the sermon fails, as a well-charged pistol will do more execution than a whole barrel of gunpowder idly exploded in the air. William Gilmore Simms

Proverbs are mental gems gathered in the diamond fields of the mind. William R. Alger

When an occasion arises, there is a proverb to suit it. Nigerian Proverb

Proverbs are the lamp of speech. Arabic Proverb

Proverbs can be applied to get what you want. Zimbabwean Proverb

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