Sunday, 14 November 2010


Proverbs are old sayings that provide advice, warnings and morals and have been handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. They tend to be short and memorable and can be grouped by key elements e.g. time, gossip, wealth etc. Some proverbs have literal meanings while others are metaphorical. Although proverbs can be found in all cultures, the Chinese are renowned for their wide selection.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
When the cat’s away, the mice will play.
If the dog is not at home, he barks not. [African proverb]
The absent are always in the wrong.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Present to the eye, present to the mind. [Chinese proverb]
Long absent, soon forgotten.
The absent get farther off every day. [Japanese proverb]

Variety is the spice of life.
Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.
One cannot put back the clock.
There is nothing permanent except change.
Preserve the old, but know the new. [Chinese proverb]
There is nothing new under the sun.

You cannot have it both ways.
You cannot have your cake and eat it. (you need to make a choice)
Of two evils choose the least.

The early bird catches the worm.
First come, first served.
Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealth and wise.
Sooner begun, sooner done.
A stitch in time saves nine. (if something is done now you avoid future trouble)

There’s no smoke without fire. (gossip generally has an element of truth in it)
An ill tongue may do much.
Go abroad and you’ll hear news of home.
Whispered words are heard afar. [Chinese proverb]
If the Nile knows your secret it will soon be known in the desert. [African proverb]
Walls have ears.

Every man is the architect of his own fortune.
As you make your bed, so you must lie on it.
It takes two to tango.
A bad workman always blames his tools.
The absent party is always to blame.
When one falls, it is not one’s foot that is to blame. [Chinese proverb]
Idle folk lack no excuses.

There is safety in numbers.
Better safe than sorry.
It’s best to be on the safe side.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. (don't invest all your efforts in just one thing)

The best things come in small packages.
Small is beautiful.
Every little helps.
Little and often fills the purse.
Of a small spark, a great fire.

Time cures all things.
Time is money.
Time tests all things.
Time will tell.
Time flies.
For the busy man time passes quickly. [Chinese proverb]
Time and tide wait for no man.
What greater crime than loss of time?
There is a time and place for everything.
History repeats itself.

Travel broadens the mind.
There’s no place like home.
Dry bread at home is better than roast meat abroad.
Home is where the heart is.
Better at home than a mile from it. [Chinese proverb]

He that has money has what he wants.
A rich man can do no wrong.
The rich knows not who is his friend.
Riches have wings. (wealth may be short-lived)
Riches take away more pleasures than they give. [Chinese proverb]
Money is the root of all evil.
Money makes the man.
The best things in life are free.
Money isn’t everything.
Health is better than wealth.
You can’t take it with you when you die.
Money makes money. (the best source of wealth is wealth itself)

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