English Proverbs
Home → English Proverbs


1 2

A bad penny always turns up.

A barking dog never bites.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

A cat may look at a king.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

A change is as good as a rest.

A dog is a man's best friend.

A drowning man will clutch at a straw.

A fish always rots from the head down.

A fool and his money are soon parted.

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

A golden key can open any door.

A good beginning makes a good ending.

A good man is hard to find.

A house divided against itself cannot stand.

A house is not a home.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

A leopard cannot change its spots.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

A little learning is a dangerous thing.

A little of what you fancy does you good.

A man is known by his friends.

A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client.

A miss is as good as a mile.

A new broom sweeps clean.

A nod's as good as a wink to a blind horse.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

A person is known by the company he keeps.

A picture paints a thousand words.

A place for everything and everything in its place.

A poor workman always blames his tools.

A problem shared is a problem halved.

A prophet is not recognized in his own land.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

A soft answer turneth away wrath.

A stitch in time saves nine.

A swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

A time and a place for everything - There's.

A trouble shared is a trouble halved.

A volunteer is worth twenty pressed men.

A watched pot never boils.

A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke.

A woman's place is in the home.

A woman's work is never done.

A word to the wise is enough.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Accidents will happen (in the best-regulated families).

Actions speak louder than words.

Adversity makes strange bedfellows.

After a storm comes a calm.

Age of miracles is past - The.

Ain't over till the fat lady sings - It.

All good things come to he who waits.

All good things must come to an end.

All is grist that comes to the mill.

All publicity is good publicity.

All roads lead to Rome.

All that glitters is not gold.

All the world loves a lover.

All things come to those that wait.

All things must pass.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

All you need is love.

All's fair in love and war.

All's for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

All's well that ends well.

A miss is as good as a mile.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

An army marches on its stomach.

An Englishman's home is his castle.

An exception to every rule - There's.

Always more fish in the sea - There's.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

An ill wind that blows no one any good - It's.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Another day, another dollar.

Any port in a storm.

Appearances can be deceptive.

Apple a day keeps the doctor away - An.

Apple never falls far from the tree - The.

April is the cruellest month.

April showers bring forth May flowers.

Army marches on its stomach - An.

As thick as thieves.

As you make your bed, so you must lie upon it.

As you sow so shall you reap.

Ashes to ashes dust to dust.

Ask a silly question and you'll get a silly answer.

Ask no questions and hear no lies.

Attack is the best form of defence.

Bad money drives out good.

Bad news travels fast.

Bad penny always turns up - A.

Barking dog never bites - A.

Be careful what you wish for.

Beat swords into ploughshares.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Beauty is only skin deep.

Beggars should not be choosers.

Behind every great man there's a great woman.

Best defence is a good offence - The.

Best is the enemy of the good - The.

Best-laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley - The.

Best things in life are free - The.

Better late than never.

Better safe than sorry.

Better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't.

Best to be on the safe side - It's.

Better to give than to receive - It's.

Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all - It's.

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness - It's.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool that to speak and remove all doubt.

Better to travel hopefully than to arrive - It's.

Between two stools one falls to the ground.

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

Beware the Ides of March.

Big fish eat little fish.

Big fleas have little fleas upon their back to bite 'em.

Bigger, the better - The.

Bigger they are, the harder they fall - The.

Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush - A.

Birds of a feather flock together.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Blood is thicker than water.

Blue are the hills that are far away.

Bottom line is the bottom line - The.

Boy is father to the man - The.

Boys will be boys.

Bread always falls buttered side down.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.

Business before pleasure.

Caesar's wife must be above suspicion.

Carpe diem (Pluck the day; Seize the day).

Cat may look at a king - A.

Chain is only as strong as its weakest link - A.

Change is as good as a rest - A.

Charity begins at home.

Charity covers a multitude of sins.

Cheaters never win and winners never cheat.

Cheats never prosper.

Child is father to the man - The.

Children and fools tell the truth.

Children should be seen and not heard.

Christmas comes but once a year.

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

Clothes maketh the man.

Cobbler always wears the worst shoes - The.

Cold hands, warm heart.

Comparisons are odious.

Count your blessings.

Course of true love never did run smooth - The.

Cowards may die many times before their death.

Crime doesn't pay.

Curiosity killed the cat.

Customer is always right - The.

Cut your coat to suit your cloth.

Darkest hour is just before the dawn - The.

Dead men tell no tales.

Devil is in the details - The.

Devil looks after his own - The.

Devil makes work for idle hands to do - The.

Devil take the hindmost - The.

Different strokes for different folks.

Discretion is the better part of valour.

Distance lends enchantment to the view.

Do as I say, not as I do.

Do as you would be done by.

Do unto others as you would have them do to you.

Dog is a man's best friend - A.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Don't burn your bridges behind you.

Don't cast your pearls before swine.

Don't change horses in midstream.

Don't count your chickens before they are hatched.

Don't cross the bridge till you come to it.

Don't cut off your nose to spite your face.

Don't get mad, get even.

Don't keep a dog and bark yourself.

Don't leave your manners on the doorstep.

Don't let the bastards grind you down.

Don't let the cat out of the bag.

Don't let the grass grow under your feet.

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Don't meet troubles half-way.

Don't mix business with pleasure.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Don't put the cart before the horse.

Don't put new wine into old bottles.

Don't rock the boat.

Don't shoot the messenger.

Don't spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar.

Don't shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Don't sweat the small stuff.

Don't throw pearls to swine.

Don't teach your Grandma to suck eggs.

Don't throw good money after bad.

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Don't trust anyone over thirty.

Don't try to run before you can walk.

Don't try to walk before you can crawl.

Don't upset the apple-cart.

Don't wash your dirty linen in public.

Doubt is the beginning not the end of wisdom.

Drowning man will clutch at a straw - A.

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Each to their own.

Early bird catches the worm - The.

East is east, and west is west.

East, west, home's best.

Easy come, easy go.

Easy to be wise after the event - It's.

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Empty vessels make the most noise.

End justifies the means - The.

English are a nation of shopkeepers - The.

Englishman's home is his castle - An.

Enough is as good as a feast.

Enough is enough.

Even a worm will turn.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Every dog has its day.

Every little helps.

Every man for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost.

Every man has his price.

Every picture tells a story.

Every stick has two ends.

Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.

Everything comes to him who waits.

Exception which proves the rule - The.

Eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth - An.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Faint heart never won fair lady.

Fair exchange is no robbery.

Faith will move mountains.

Familiarity breeds contempt.

Fat is in the fire - The.

Feed a cold and starve a fever.

Female of the species is more deadly than the male - The.

Fight fire with fire.

Fight the good fight.

Finders keepers, losers weepers.

Fine words butter no parsnips.

Fire is a good servant but a bad master.

First come, first served.

First impressions are the most lasting.

First things first.

Fish always stink from the head down.

Fish and guests smell after three days.

Flattery will get you nowhere.

Fool and his money are soon parted - A.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

For everything there is a season.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the man was lost.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Forgive and forget.

Fortune favours the brave.

Friend in need is a friend indeed - A.

From the sublime to the ridiculous is only one step.

Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day...

Give a dog a bad name and hang him.

Give a man enough rope and he will hang himself.

Give credit where credit is due.

Give the Devil his due.

Go the extra mile.

God helps those who help themselves.

Goes without saying - It.

Golden key can open any door - A.

Good beginning makes a good ending - A.

Good die young - The.

Good fences make good neighbours.

Good man is hard to find - A.

Good talk saves the food.

Good things come in small packages.

Good things come to those that wait.

Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence - The.

Great minds think alike.

Great oaks from little acorns grow.

Half a loaf is better than no bread.

Hand that rocks the cradle rules the world - The.

Handsome is as handsome does.

Hard cases make bad law.

Hard work never did anyone any harm.

Haste makes waste.

He that goes a-borrowing, goes a-sorrowing.

He who can does, he who cannot, teaches.

He who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day.

He who hesitates is lost.

He who laughs last laughs longest.

He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.

Hear all, see all, say nowt, tak' all, keep all, gie nowt, and if tha ever does owt for nowt do it for thysen.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Hindsight is always twenty-twenty.

History repeats itself.

Hold with the hare and run with the hounds - You can't.

Home is where the heart is.

Honesty is the best policy.

Honey catches more flies than vinegar.

Honour among thieves - There's.

Hope springs eternal.

Horses for courses.

House divided against itself cannot stand - A.

House is not a home - A.

Husband is always the last to know - The.

If anything can go wrong, it will.

If a job is worth doing it is worth doing well.

If at first you don't succeed try, try and try again.

If God had meant us to fly he'd have given us wings.

If ifs and ands were pots and pans there'd be no work for tinkers.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

If life deals you lemons, make lemonade.

If the cap fits, wear it.

If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

If you build it they will come.

If you can't be good, be careful.

If you can't beat em, join em.

If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.

Ignorance is bliss.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

In for a penny, in for a pound.

In the kingdom of the blind the one eyed man is king.

In the midst of life we are in death.

Into every life a little rain must fall.

It ain't over till the fat lady sings.

It goes without saying.

It never rains but it pours.

It takes a thief to catch a thief.

It takes all sorts to make a world.

It takes one to know one.

It takes two to tango.

It's all grist to the mill.

It's an ill wind that blows no one any good.

It's best to be on the safe side.

It's better to give than to receive.

It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

It's better to travel hopefully than to arrive.

It's easy to be wise after the event.

It's never too late.

It's no use crying over spilt milk.

It's no use shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

It's the early bird that catches the worm.

It's the empty can that makes the most noise.

It's the singer not the song.

It's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.

Jack of all trades, master of none.

Jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.

Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step - A.

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Keep your chin up.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Keep your powder dry.

Know which side your bread is buttered.

Labourer is worthy of his hire - The.

Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone.

Laughter is the best medicine.

1 2


English Proverbs

A proverb is a short, pithy saying that expresses a traditionally held truth or piece of advice, based on common sense or experience.

Nothing defines a culture as distinctly as its language, and the element of language that best encapsulates a society's values and beliefs is its proverbs.