Proverbs are small sentences which generally give a life lesson. These phrases have been used in daily conversations for a long time. Proverbs tell a lot about a country’s culture.
These basically are clever sentences which have a hidden meaning if unfolded. Proverbs are based upon experience and are in fact, true in every sphere of life.
For instance, if a person says that, “it is raining cats and dogs.” He does not mean to say that there are cats and dogs falling from the sky rather he is trying to convey the fact that it is raining heavily.
In this article, we will talk briefly about 50 proverbs which can be used in daily lives. Moreover, if you have a boss or a friend who uses a clever form of English, this article can be useful for you to understand and reply promptly.
- 50 English Proverbs with Meanings and Examples
- 1. “Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
- 2. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
- 3. “Strike the iron while it is hot.”
- 4. “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”
- 5. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
- 6. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
- 7. “Don’t cross the bridge until you come on it.”
- 8. “Honesty is the best policy.”
- 9. “Practice makes perfect.”
- 10. “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
- 11. “Look before you leap.”
- 12. “Many hands make light work.”
- 13. “Beggars can’t be choosers.”
- 14. “Don’t make a mountain out of an anthill.”
- 15. “An apple a day keep the doctor away.”
- 16. “Early bird catches the worm.”
- 17. “Better late than never.”
- 18. “The cat is out of the bag.”
- 19. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
- 20. “Always put your best foot forward.”
- 21. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
- 22. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
- 23. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
- 24. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
- 25. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
- 26. “You made your bed now you have to lie in it.”
- 27. “Action speaks louder than a word.”
- 28. “It takes two to tango.”
- 29. “Don’t count your chicken before they hatch.”
- 30. “It’s no use crying over spilled milk.’’
- 31. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
- 32. “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
- 33. “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”
- 34. “First things first.”
- 35. “Still water runs deep.”
- 36. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
- 37. “Curiosity killed the cat.”
- 38. “Learn to walk before you run.”
- 39. “Money does not grow on trees.”
- 40. “My hands are tied.”
- 41. “It’s the tip of the iceberg.”
- 42. “No news is good new.”
- 43. “Out of sight, out of mind.”
- 44. “If you scratch my back, I will scratch yours.”
- 45. “Ignorance is bliss.”
- 46. “Easy come, easy go.”
- 47. “The forbidden fruit is always sweetest.”
- 48. “Every cloud has a silver lining.”
- 49. “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.”
- 50. “Close but no cigar.”
50 English Proverbs with Meanings and Examples
1. “Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
This proverb typically says that one should be satisfied with what they have.
Let’s unfold this a bit, in our daily life it may seem that the person next to you always has things better than you. However, it is important to be content with what you have in life.
2. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
This proverb means that one should never judge something or someone with the appearance it has. One should always try to know about them in depth and then decide, how they actually are. You might make a bad opinion about a person from his looks without actually talking to him. But in reality, he might be a very good person with a lot of experience.
3. “Strike the iron while it is hot.”
This proverb means that one should grasp advantages from a situation if it presents itself to them. One should just make the move exactly when the right moment arrives. You need to do exactly what is needed, when it is needed to fully take advantage of the situation. Not too early not too late.
4. “Too many cooks spoil the broth.”
This famous proverb means that if a task is done by a lot of people, they might mess it up. Because different people have different opinions and they do things differently. Each one of these chefs will try to make the broth according to himself, eventually spoiling it.
5. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
This proverb says about two adjacent desires and that one cannot have both of them simultaneously. By unfolding this proverb, if you eat the cake, you can’t have it anymore. This basically says that one can not have the best of both worlds. Either you have this or you have that.
6. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
If you are somewhere outside of your native country, you should act as everybody around. Basically, adjust according to the situation and modify your acts according to the environment you are in.
7. “Don’t cross the bridge until you come on it.”
This proverb tells that one should not worry about the problems that might come up in the future. If you start worrying about a future problem, you might end up getting stressed. This proverb basically is asking people to live in the present.
8. “Honesty is the best policy.”
This ancient proverb tells us to be honest at all times, whatsoever be the situation. A lie might make you lie several times than actually needed, you could just say the truth and get over with it. Lying puts you in a vulnerable position.
9. “Practice makes perfect.”
According to this proverb, if one keeps on practising some trait or task, he will excel in it with the passage of time and continuous practice. To further explain, if you keep on trying to do something you will fail the first time, you might also fail the second time but eventually you will be perfect.
10. “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
This proverb means that, if you want something to happen with all your heart, you will definitely find out a way to make it happen. Ants can lift up 10 times more weight than themselves. They have a will and make things happen which might seem impossible on paper.
11. “Look before you leap.”
According to this proverb, you need to analyze all the things associated with a task you are going to perform. Let’s take, jumping off a cliff, you should determine the distance and all so as to make a calculated move. You would not want to take the jump and fall instead.
12. “Many hands make light work.”
This proverb means puts emphasis on the strength of unity. For example, if there is a huge log and a person tries to lift it up, he won’t be able to. On the other hand, if a group of people does it, they can do it easily.
13. “Beggars can’t be choosers.”
This proverb tells you that you ought not to complain about a person who is giving you a free thing in form of help. You should accept the help with gratitude. If somebody is offering you something as a form of help, you can’t ask more or a better alternative.
14. “Don’t make a mountain out of an anthill.”
According to this proverb, you should not worry about small things. You should take time to think if the problem is important enough to worry about so much. If you assume that problems are too big, you might not be able to handle them properly.
15. “An apple a day keep the doctor away.”
Apple is a fruit full of vitamin C. According to this proverb, if you eat an apple each day you reduce the chances of being diagnosed with a disease. If there will be lesser chances of any health issue, automatically you would not have to see a doctor.
16. “Early bird catches the worm.”
This proverb means that if you reach a place earlier, you get the best. For example, if you reach a party first, you get to have all those starters which might not last for the latecomers. If there is a sale and you arrive first, you will have the chance to choose from a lot of options and pick the best one.
17. “Better late than never.”
This proverb explains that a thing happening late is better than not happening at all. While the people who arrive first will get the ability to pick out best, but even those who come late will get something, which definitely better than getting anything at all.
18. “The cat is out of the bag.”
This proverb typically means that the secret is out. You might go to a magic show and be amused by the tricks but as the magician makes a mistake and drops the curtain at the wrong time, the cat is out of the bag or his secret is out.
19. “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”
If someone does wrong to you, doing the same to them does not make you any better. If someone abuses you and in anguish, you abuse him back, you are no better than him because you did the exact same thing.
20. “Always put your best foot forward.”
Start any new thing with your best energy and attitude. Your first positive impression on people might get you a better place in life. In an interview, you would want to show those abilities of yours which you think are best in order to make an impression.
21. “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
Good things don’t happen quickly. You need to put in the right efforts to achieve something in your life. If you want to build something good, you need to put in the right material, right efforts and a lot of precision.
22. “It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
This proverb says that one should prevent himself from all the bad things because once bad happens to you, you can’t do anything about it. One should always take all the safety measures that will keep them protected from all the mishappenings.
23. “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
This proverb tells people to always be loyal to those who have done many good things for them in life. One should never betray a person who gives the food or even money to buy food. If you betray them, you can’t be trusted by anyone.
24. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
According to this proverb, if you have a problem, say it. Until you speak out, no one can help you. If you have a problem and decide to stay shut about it, nobody will know about it. Eventually you will keep on facing the same problems again and again.
25. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
If you take up more responsibility than you can handle, you will end up messing up all of them. Take up as many responsibilities which you can perform well. If you take up limited responsibilities and perform them with the precision, you will be better appreciated.
26. “You made your bed now you have to lie in it.”
If you land up in a bad situation, you can not exchange it with someone else. You have to deal with your situation by yourself. Because if there is something just because of you, only you need to take responsibility and deal with it.
27. “Action speaks louder than a word.”
If you only talk about doing good things and never actually do them, it is a waste. If you perform the tasks and not speak even a bit about them, you will be well appreciated. Only talking about doing great things does not count as doing good things.
28. “It takes two to tango.”
This proverb is often used in context to a fight. In a fight, there is never just one person’s fault. If you hit a person who abused you, you both did your part in paying heeds to the fight. You are both responsible and not just one.
29. “Don’t count your chicken before they hatch.”
This means that you should not anticipate something until you are very sure about it. If you are working for a corporation and are viable for a salary, you should not start spending heavily until and unless you receive the salary in the account.
30. “It’s no use crying over spilled milk.’’
There is no use of crying about something that has already happened. You can’t actually do something about it after it happens. If we unfold this proverb even more, if the milk has already been spilled, there is nothing you can do to undo it.
31. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
This proverb tells you to be careful. If you put all your money in just one commodity or stock, you are taking a big risk and you might end up losing everything. To understand this even further, if you lose one bag in which all the money is, you will lose everything that you have.
32. “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
People who get offended if someone insults them should not intend on insulting others. Let’s unfold this proverb, if you live in glass houses and you throw stones at other, it is likely that they will throw a stone at you also. You live in glass houses will incur a greater loss.
33. “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”
If a stone remains at just one place, it will have moss on it. But, if the stone keeps on moving from place to place, there will be no moss on it. All in all, don’t stay idle. Similar is with people, if you remain in one place, people will know you and if you keep on moving nobody will know you.
34. “First things first.”
This proverb tells you to start working on a task that is more important. You can leave the less important tasks for later but start working on those which are very important. All this proverb tells is to prioritize things.
35. “Still water runs deep.”
This proverb basically describes quiet people, who are not that socially active. They might have a deep and interesting personality if unfolded.
36. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
This proverb is usually for people who try to improve things which are already perfect. In the process of making perfect things better, you might actually end up wasting your time and spoiling the perfect things.
37. “Curiosity killed the cat.”
This proverb is for someone who asks a lot of questions. Curiosity is good but not in abundance. One should be curious to know new things, but this want of knowing things should be limited because knowing a lot also may be harmful sometimes.
38. “Learn to walk before you run.”
This proverb teaches you to start learning things in order. If you try to learn the final thing while skipping the basics, you will not be able to learn it ever. It is important to get a hold of the basics first and then move ahead.
39. “Money does not grow on trees.”
This proverb tells that money should be consumed with a check because it does not grow on trees and takes a lot of hard work and time to be acquired. So, you should spend the money very very carefully.
40. “My hands are tied.”
You say this proverb when you can not do something which is outside your authority or something which is unlawful. This does not mean that your hands are actually tied, this proverb shows your inability to do something.
41. “It’s the tip of the iceberg.”
This proverb is usually used in a conversation when a person wants to convey that the actual thing is way more than what is being perceived by the other. For example, if you’re sure that the other person has not understood the whole thing yet, you can tell them ahead that all they’ve got is the tip of the iceberg.
42. “No news is good new.”
This proverb says that if you don’t hear from a relative for a long time, it means that they are in good health. And that everything is okay with them. Also, you shouldn’t start thinking negatively if you don’t get an update about anything or anyone.
43. “Out of sight, out of mind.”
According to this proverb, if you keep on looking at something daily, you will be thinking about it. But, if you don’t see it, you will eventually forget it. So, the things which you want to stop thinking about, stop looking at them daily.
44. “If you scratch my back, I will scratch yours.”
This actually means if you help me, I will help you. If you do a favour for someone, they are indebted to you in return. And even they do something for you to repay that debt.
45. “Ignorance is bliss.”
You might be joyous because you don’t know about something dreadful. Keep yourself that way, you would not want to know about something that would make you sad. For example, you would not want to know in detail about something that you don’t find relevant at all.
46. “Easy come, easy go.”
Easy money and fame can go as quickly because you might have not earned it by yourself. If you earned money and fame using shortcuts, they can go very as quickly as you attained them. Because you did not work enough for it.
47. “The forbidden fruit is always sweetest.”
Forbidden is something which is not allowed to you. Many times people find more joy in doing things which are denied to them. For example, if your mother denied you to go out in the rain, you might find even more satisfying to go out just because your mother denied you for it.
48. “Every cloud has a silver lining.”
This proverb conveys that every bad thing or situation has something good about it. You should never lose hope in a bad situation because there is always a brighter side of every situation.
49. “You can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.”
Sometimes in order to do something great and extraordinary, you need to break a few rules. Sometimes what you need is to think out of the box. If we unfold this proverb we will find, to make an omelette you need to break the egg, there is no other way to do it.
50. “Close but no cigar.”
Back in time cigars were presented to winners of a game. This proverb is basically used for the losers who did good but did not win hence, got no cigar. If you want a cigar or the reward, you’ve got to win. If you lose, forget about it.
With this, we hope that this list of proverbs will come handy if you want to add to your knowledge and see how rich of a language English is.