You are on page 1of 25


A "proverb" is a short, traditional saying in general use. It usually expresses some obvious truth or familiar experience. Here are some proverbs that are well known in English, though some of them come from other languages. Click here for their meanings.

"The best things in life are free." "A stitch in time saves nine." "Still waters run deep." "He teaches ill, who teaches all." "You can't take it with you when you die." "Better untaught than ill taught." "Don't cross your bridges before you come to them." "Soon learnt, soon forgotten." "Even a worm will turn." "It was the last straw that broke the camel's back." "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." "If the stone fall upon the egg, alas for the egg! If the egg fall upon the stone, alas for the egg!" "Where there's a will there's a way." "Marry in haste, and repent at leisure." "One tongue is enough for a woman." "If you wish good advice, consult an old man." "The best advice is found on the pillow."
Page 1 of 25

"All clouds bring not rain." "You can't tell a book by its cover." "Bad news travels fast." "No news is good news." "Live and let live." "Birds of a feather flock together." "Tell me who you go with and I'll tell you who you are."

26 Sayings beginning with A

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings A bad penny always turns up

Nasty or bad people have a habit of showing up or returning.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

It's better to have one of something for certain than to run after two of the same thing and not be sure of getting them.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link

If one link in a chain is weak, and all the other links are strong, the whole chain is weak.
A fool and his money are soon parted

Stupid people spend their money carelessly and soon become poor.
A good husband makes a good wife

If a woman is happy with her husband, she will be a good mate for him.
A good man is hard to find

This saying talks about the difficulties for women in finding a suitable male partner.
A good name is better than riches

Your good reputation is worth more than money.

Page 2 of 25

A good payer is master of another's purse

Someone who is known to always pay exactly as promised can borrow money from other people at any time.
A good paymaster never wants workmen

An employer who pays well is never short of staff.

A just war is better than an unjust peace

Fighting between countries for a fair and good cause is better than no fighting in a situation that is unfair.
A little learning is a dangerous thing

It may be safer not to learn something at all than to half-learn it.

A man is as old as he feels, and a woman as old as she looks

This somewhat sexist saying suggests that men age better than women.
A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse

A very small hint is enough to convey our meaning. It is not always necessary to say what we want explicitly.
A short prayer penetrates heaven

The implication is that brevity is effective in winning the ear of Heaven, and, by extension, anyone from whom we seek help.
A still tongue makes a wise head

Someone who does not talk much, but listens to other people, probably has experience, knowledge and good judgement.
A stitch in time saves nine

Repair something as soon as it is damaged. That's a small repair job. If not, you will have a much bigger and more expensive repair job later. Do it now and you'll need one stitch. Do it later and you'll need 9 stitches!
A watched pot never boils

If you want to heat water until it boils, and you watch it while you wait, then it seems to take a very long time. In the same way, anything that we wait for with eager attention seems to take a very long time: like waiting for someone to arrive, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for a letter to come.
A word to the wise is enough

A very brief warning or explanation is enough for an intelligent person.

All cats are grey in the dark

The implication is that beauty, or physical appearance, is unimportant.

Page 3 of 25

All clouds bring not rain

We can rephrase this: "Not every cloud brings rain." And that's true. Sometimes there are many clouds in the sky, but it doesn't rain. Don't judge things by appearances.
All that glitters is not gold

The attractive exterior of something is not a good indicator of its real nature. It may look valuable, but not be valuable.
All things are difficult before they are easy

The implication is that we should be patient with learning, and with learners. It takes time to learn to do things. What seems easy to us now may have been difficult at first.
All truths are not to be told

Some truths are better left unspoken. It is not always necessary to repeat something even though it be true.
Any port in a storm

In times of danger, any shelter is better than none. In an emergency, we have to accept whatever solution presents itself (for the time being).
Appearances are deceptive

The way something or someone looks from outside may give us the wrong impression.
As soon as man is born he begins to die

The process of dying starts at birth. This saying reminds us of our own mortality, whatever our age.

13 Sayings beginning with B

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Bad news travels fast

"Bad news" means news about "bad" things like accidents, death, illness etc. People tend to tell this type of news quickly. But "good news" (passing an exam, winning some money, getting a job etc) travels more slowly.
Barking dogs seldom bite

Don't be afraid of dogs that bark or people that threaten you (say they will do something bad to you) - in both cases they rarely take action.
Page 4 of 25

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Different people see beauty in different ways. What one person finds beautiful may not appeal to another person.
Beauty is only skin deep

Physical beauty is superficial. A pleasing exterior is no guide to a person's interior or character.

Behind every successful man is a woman

Many men owe their achievements in life to women.

Better safe than sorry

We should be careful in a dangerous situation. It is better to stay safe than to have an accident (and be sorry about it). The full "grammatical" sentence would be: "It is better to be safe than to be sorry."
Better the foot slip than the tongue

It is better to take a bad step in walking than to say the wrong thing in talking. We can do a lot of damage when we say something by mistake. The elliptical nature of this saying may make it difficult to understand. The full version might be something like: "It is better that your foot should slip than that your tongue should slip."
Better untaught than ill taught

This proverb drops the verb "to be" (It is better to be untaught than ill taught). We understand: "It is better not to be taught at all than to be taught badly." It's better not to learn something than to learn it badly.
Beware of a silent man and still water

A large expanse of water that is still and does not move is often deep and dangerous. We should be careful of it. In the same way, we should be careful with a person who does not talk much.
Beware the fury of a patient man

The implication is that the anger of people who are normally slow to anger is, when it eventually comes, terrible.
Birds of a feather flock together

"Birds of a feather" means "birds of the same type". The whole proverb means that people of the same type or sort stay together. They don't mix with people of another type.
Boys will be boys

This somewhat humorous saying is often used to excuse male behaviour (of both boys and adult men).

Page 5 of 25

Brevity is the soul of wit

The real art of speaking (especially when speaking humorously) is to use as few words as possible.

6 Sayings beginning with C

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Charity begins at home

Our first responsibility is to our own family and friends.

Cleanliness is next to godliness

This (humorous) saying suggests that being clean is nearly as good as being godly or very holy.
Cold hands, warm heart

A cool, reserved exterior may hide a kind heart.

Comparisons are odious

Comparison (especially of people) is not productive and can have unpleasant consequences. People should be judged on their own merits.
Count your blessings

Instead of worrying about the problems that we may have, we should think about the good things that we have. We should be grateful for what we have.
Crime doesn't pay

If you engage in illegal activities, you will not make money in the long run.

11 Sayings beginning with D

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Dead men tell no tales

People who are no longer living cannot give evidence.

Death is a remedy for all ills

When we die, all our problems are solved.

Page 6 of 25

Death keeps no calendar

In this saying, "Death" is personified as a spiritual being who may call upon us at any time - he has no appointment book. We never know when we will die.
Death pays all debts

Dying cancels everything, including anything that we owe to other people.

Discretion is the better part of valour

It may sometimes be better to avoid a dangerous situation than to confront it.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you

It is not be a good idea to hurt the person (or company) that pays you or takes care of you.
Don't cross your bridges before you come to them

Don't worry about problems before they arrive.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket

If all your eggs are in one basket and you drop the basket, you lose everything. Don't put all your money in one bank. Don't put all your faith in one person.
Don't rock the boat

This saying advises people not to upset the status quo (or try to change a comfortable, existing situation).
Dumb dogs are dangerous

People who say little or nothing are more dangerous than people who speak a lot.
Dying men speak true

When people are about to die, they usually tell the truth.

8 Sayings beginning with E

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise

It is good for us to sleep early in the evening and wake early in the morning.

Page 7 of 25

Easy come, easy go

If we get something (like money) easily and without effort, we can lose it easily too.
Empty vessels make the most noise

Stupid people speak loudest.

Even a worm will turn

Everybody will revolt if driven too far. Even the lowest of people, or animals, will revolt and hit back at some stage. Even a worm, the simplest of animals, will defend itself.
Even the prayers of an ant reach to Heaven

God hears all living beings.

Every dog has his day

1) Even the lowest of us at some time has a chance to get revenge on an oppressor, no matter how powerful that oppressor may be. 2) We will all have good luck or success at some point in our lives.
Every man has his price

According to this saying, all people can be bribed if you pay enough.
Everything comes to him who waits

Patient people eventually receive all things.

8 Sayings beginning with F

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Facts are stubborn things

We cannot avoid the truth, even when it is not what we want to hear or express.
Faint heart never won fair lady

We should have the courage to pursue what we want if we wish to succeed in life.
Fair exchange is no robbery

Swapping one thing fairly in return for another is not the same as stealing.
Familiarity breeds contempt

When we know someone or something very well, we lose respect for them or it.
Page 8 of 25

First things first

1) Be patient: do things in the logical order. 2) Do the most important things before the less important things.
Forewarned is forearmed

If we know about a possible danger in advance, we have an important advantage.

Fortune favours the bold

Successful people are often those who are prepared to take risks.
Fortune knocks once at every man's door

We all get at least one good opportunity in life; everybody has the opportunity to be successful in life.

11 Sayings beginning with G

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Garbage in, garbage out | GIGO

Incorrect or bad input results in incorrect or bad output.

Give a thief enough rope and he'll hang himself

A bad person will sooner or later be the cause of his own downfall.
Give credit where credit is due

The implication is that even if we are reluctant to praise someone, we should do so if the praise is deserved.
Give the devil his due

We should admit the good qualities of even a bad or undeserving person.

Give, and ye shall receive

This idea from the Bible suggests that when we freely give something (money, love etc) to other people, we will receive the same or more back.
God helps them that help themselves

This semi-humorous saying suggests that we should not rely entirely on God to help us. God will help us if we make an effort.
God moves in a mysterious way

The implication is that God's plan is beyond human understanding. God has a reason for everything, however strange it may seem to us.
Page 9 of 25

Good wine needs no bush

Something of good quality does not need to be advertised.

Graves are of all sizes

People die at all ages; no one is too young to die.

Great minds think alike

This saying suggests that very intelligent people think like each other. It is often said as a joke when two people think of the same thing.
Great oaks from little acorns grow

The normal order of words would be "Great oaks grow from little acorns." We understand: sometimes small and modest things can become very large and impressive things with time.

14 Sayings beginning with H

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Handsome is as handsome does Good character and behaviour are more important than good looks. He teaches ill, who teaches all The unusual structure of this proverb may make it difficult to understand. It becomes easier if we change the structure to "He who teaches all teaches ill." The word "ill" here means "badly". So it means that the teacher who teaches students everything, does not teach well. A good teacher lets students discover some things for themselves. He that complies against his will, is of his own opinion still If you force someone to do something or agree with something, it doesn't mean that they really agree. He that lives by the sword shall die by the sword The way that you treat others is the way that others will treat you. People who commit violence must expect to receive violence. He that will learn to pray, let him go to sea The sea is supremely powerful, and can be a terrifying and awe-inspiring place. He that wills the end wills the means If you are determined to do something you will find the way to do it.

Page 10 of 25

He who hesitates is lost The person who waits too long loses the opportunity; or, more seriously, delay or indecision may have disastrous results. He who laughs last laughs longest This saying advises against anticipating success, or thinking that you have won before you are sure. He who pays the piper calls the tune The person who pays a musician can decide what music he wants to hear. And the person who pays for any service has the right to say exactly what he wants. He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon If you eat with the devil, you need a (very) long spoon so that you can keep your distance. If you mix with bad people, you should be careful not to be influenced by them. A warning not to get too close when dealing with evil people. Health is better than wealth Being free from illness is better than being rich. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned A woman rejected in love can be very angry and dangerous. Honesty is the best policy Both in the short term and in the long term, honesty will repay you better than dishonesty. It is best to be truthful at all times. Hope springs eternal in the human breast The normal interpretation of this saying is that people will always be optimistic and think that something better is coming.

12 Sayings beginning with I

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet. Before complaining, we should think of the context. If a job's worth doing it's worth doing well Don't start some work and then do it badly. If it ain't broke, don't fix it If something is not faulty or damaged, don't try to repair it. If the stone fall upon the egg, alas for the egg! If the egg fall upon the stone, alas for the egg! Life just isn't fair, and this realistic Arab proverb recognizes that. The stone will always break the egg. Life's like that!

Page 11 of 25

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em If you cannot win against someone or something, it may be easier or better to join forces with them. If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys An employer who pays low wages will have bad staff. If you play with fire you get burned If you fool around with something that is potentially dangerous, you must expect to get harmed. If you wish good advice, consult an old man Old people have a lot of experience. If you want to have good advice or recommendations, ask an old person, not a young one. Ignorance of the law is no excuse It is no defence to say that we didn't know that something we did was illegal. It is best to be on the safe side 1) Don't take risks. Be careful and cautious. 2) It's best to be sure. It's best to be absolutely certain. It was the last straw that broke the camel's back There is a limit to everything. We can load the camel with lots of straw, but finally it will be too much and the camel's back will break. And it is only a single straw that breaks its back - the last straw. This can be applied to many things in life. People often say "That's the last straw!" when they will not accept any more of something. It's a man's world Everything in life is arranged to the advantage of men. Life is tough for women.

1 Saying beginning with J

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Jack of all trades, master of none Suggesting that a person who can do many different types of work is probably not very good at any of them.

2 Sayings beginning with K

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Keep your friends close and your enemies closer You'll be safer if you know more about your enemies than you know about your friends. Look after your enemies better than you look after your friends.

Page 12 of 25

Knowledge is power Facts, information and skills give us strength and influence.

8 Sayings beginning with L

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Least said soonest mended When we do or say something bad to someone, a long apology and discussion does not help. In such a case, the less we say the better. Let sleeping dogs lie Don't restart an old argument or conflict. Let the dead bury the dead This is generally taken to imply that we should spend our time and energy on living people, not on dead people. (But see Origin below.) Life is what you make it It is up to you to make of your life what you want. Lightning never strikes twice in the same place The idea here is that the same misfortune or bad luck will not happen again to the same person. This saying is often shortened, with the same meaning, to: "Lightning never strikes twice." (In reality, it has been proven that lightning often does strike two or more times in the same place.) Live and let live This proverb suggest that we should not interfere in other people's business. We should live our own lives and let others live their lives. Look before you leap This saying advises us to think carefully before any action. Don't jump without looking where you are jumping. Look upon death as a going home We may consider dying to be a kind of returning to house and family.

14 Sayings beginning with M

Click on any saying for more information and notes.

Page 13 of 25

Sayings Make hay while the sun shines If we want to make hay, we need sunny weather, so when the sun comes we should take the opportunity to make hay. Thus the proverb suggests that we should make good use of any opportunity while it lasts. Make love not war 1) Sex between people is better than fighting between countries. 2) Peace is better than war. Man does not live by bread alone This proverb suggests that people have a spiritual side as well as a physical side. We need to take care of our spirit as much as our body. Man proposes, God disposes Human beings can make any plans they want, but it's God that decides their success or failure. Many a true word is spoken in jest Something said as a joke may often contain wisdom and truth. Many hands make light work The more people that do a job, the easier the job for each person. Marry in haste, and repent at leisure If we get married quickly, without thinking carefully, we may be sorry later. And we will have plenty of time to be sorry. Mighty oaks from little acorns grow The normal order of words would be "Mighty oaks grow from little acorns." We understand: sometimes small and modest things can become very large and impressive things with time. Money doesn't grow on trees It's not easy to get money. We have to work hard to make money. We can't just walk around and pick it like fruit from the trees. Money is a good servant, but a bad master If you have money, it will serve you and work for you well. But if you owe money to other people, that money will control you in an unpleasant way. Money is the root of all evil According to this saying, all immorality and wickedness is caused by money. This saying is a misquotation, and the original version ("the love of money is the root of all evil") implies that all immorality and wickedness is caused by people loving money, not by money itself. Money isn't everything There are other important things in this world, not just money. Money makes money If you have money, you can use it to get more money through investment.

Page 14 of 25

Money talks If you have a lot of money, it gives you power and influence.

16 Sayings beginning with N

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Nature abhors a vacuum Empty spaces become filled very quickly. Necessity is the mother of invention If we absolutely need to do something that has never been done, we will find a way to do it. It is this need or necessity that forces people to invent things. Neither a borrower nor a lender be Do not borrow things. Do not lend things. Never do evil that good may come of it Do not do something bad to achieve something good. Never speak ill of the dead Show respect to people who have died by not saying anything bad about them. Since dead people can no longer hurt us, or defend themselves, it is better to forget their bad actions and remember only their good ones. Never spur a willing horse Don't urge someone who is already working well to work harder and faster. If you do, he may work less hard or be less eager. No man is an island Human beings do not (or should not) live in isolation. All people are interconnected. A person is not like an island, standing alone and surrounded by sea. No news is good news If we are waiting for news about someone, it's probably good if we hear nothing because "bad news" would arrive quickly. No pain, no gain If we do not do hard work, and suffer some pain, we will achieve or gain nothing. No reply is best It is often advisable not to give any answer. Don't say no. Don't say yes. Say nothing. None so blind as those who will not see Nobody is blinder than the person who decides he does not want to see. Often used in reference to prejudice and intolerance.

Page 15 of 25

None so deaf as those who will not hear Nobody is deafer than the person who decides he does not want to listen. Often used in reference to prejudice and intolerance. Nothing is certain but death and taxes This saying may be seen in three ways: 1) We cannot be 100% sure about anything (except dying and having to pay the taxman - in this case the latter idea being added for humour). 2) We cannot escape taxation (in this case the idea of death serving only to highlight the certainty of taxes). 3) We can be absolutely sure that we will die (in this case the idea of taxes being added for humour). The first interpretation seems to have been the original intent (see Origin below). Nothing is impossible to a willing heart Someone who is eager, keen and determined can achieve anything. Nothing so certain as death We can be 100% sure that we will die. Nothing ventured, nothing gained We can't expect to achieve anything if we never take any risks.

10 Sayings beginning with O

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Oil and water don't mix If you add oil to water, the oil tries to stay separate. This proverb is a way of saying that certain people or characteristics do not go together. Once bitten, twice shy If an animal (such as a dog) bites you one time, you will be extra careful the next time. This saying talks about learning from our mistakes. One good turn deserves another If someone helps you, they merit being helped in return. One might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb If you are going to be killed for stealing a lamb, then why not steal a sheep (which is bigger and more valuable)? In general, it means that if you are going to get the same punishment, you may as well commit the greater offence. One tongue is enough for a woman Some people think that women talk too much. If they already talk too much, they don't need another tongue. One tongue is sufficient (but see Origin below).

Page 16 of 25

Opportunity only knocks once We should take an opportunity (or chance) when it comes. According to this saying, it will not come again. Opportunity seldom knocks twice Take any opportunity or chance when it comes - it may not come again. Out of debt, out of danger When we no longer owe money to anyone, we are safe and secure. The implication is that it is dangerous to owe anyone. Out of office, out of danger The implication is that people in high government or official jobs are not safe. They will be safe only when they leave their job. Out of sight, out of mind When we don't see something, we don't think about it. We soon forget people who are no longer present.

10 Sayings beginning with P

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Patience is a virtue The ability to wait for something without getting angry or upset is a valuable quality in a person. Patience surpasses learning 1) The ability to wait for a long time without getting angry is even better than education. 2) the capacity to accept delay without getting upset will achieve more than study in the end Pay beforehand was never well served If you pay for a service before you receive it, you will not get good service. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones This saying warns us against hypocrisy. We should not criticize other people for things we do ourselves. Poor men go to heaven as soon as rich God makes no distinction between people with money and people without money. Possession is nine points of the law This saying suggests that the person who physically has ownership of something is in a stronger legal position than someone who claims to be the owner. Practice makes perfect The more you do something, the better you become at it. Regular exercise of a skill or activity helps you become expert at it. Page 17 of 25

Prevention is better than cure It's better to take care that a problem does not happen than to have to solve the problem afterwards. It's easier to stop something bad from happening in the first place than to fix the damage after it has happened. Pride comes before a fall If we are too proud about ourselves or something, we will probably meet with failure or disaster. When we are too self-important or conceited, something is sure to happen to make us look foolish. Put the pedal to the metal Go as fast as possible.

1 Saying beginning with Q

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Quietness is a great treasure Silence is valuable.

6 Sayings beginning with R

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Rags to rags in three generations The first generation in a family makes money (goes from rags to riches); the second generation holds or keeps the money; and the third generation squanders or loses the money (and so goes back to rags). Revenge is a dish best served cold This saying suggests that if someone does something bad to us, it is better to pay them back later in time, not immediately. Vengeance may be more satisfying if it is not inflicted immediately. Revenge is sweet When someone does something bad to us, we get a good feeling when we do something bad back to them. Riches have wings Money can disappear easily. Money is like a bird with wings: it can fly away if you are not careful. Rome wasn't built in a day All things take time to create. And great things like the city of Rome take a very long time. So we shouldn't expect to accomplish something or achieve success immediately.

Page 18 of 25

Rules are made to be broken This saying implies that there are times when we should think for ourselves and not obey every rule blindly.

12 Sayings beginning with S

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Say well or be still If you cannot speak good of someone or something, then it is better not to speak. Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours I will help you if you will help me. If you do me a favour I'll do one for you in return. Seeing is believing The idea here is that we usually think something is true when we see it with our own eyes. We have to see something before we can accept its real value, or that it exists at all. Share and share alike Give everyone an equal portion. Silence is golden This saying emphasizes the value of saying nothing. Silence means consent The idea here is that if you don't disagree, you automatically agree. Keeping quiet is the same as giving permission. Slow help is no help When people need help they usually need it immediately. If you delay in helping, it is like not helping at all. Soon learnt, soon forgotten Something that is easy and quick to learn is easy to forget. Speech is silver, silence is golden Speaking is good but saying nothing is better. Discretion can be worth more than even eloquent words. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me A physical attack may injure me but a verbal attack cannot injure me. Still waters run deep Some rivers have rough surfaces with waves. That's usually because the water is shallow and there are rocks near the surface. But deep rivers have no rocks near the surface and the water is smooth and still. "Still waters run deep" means that people who are calm and tranquil on the outside, often have a strong, "deep" personality. Page 19 of 25

Strike while the iron is hot Seize the opportunity! When we have the chance to do something, we should do it immediately. Otherwise it will be too late.

37 Sayings beginning with T

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Talk of the Devil, and he is bound to appear 1. Speaking about the Devil may invite him to come. 2. We often say "Talk of the devil!" (or "Speak of the devil!") when somebody that we have just been speaking about suddenly appears. Tell me who you go with and I'll tell you who you are This proverb suggests that like minds stick together. If I know who your friends are, I know what your character is. The best advice is found on the pillow If we have a problem, we may find the answer after a good night's sleep. People also often say: "I'll sleep on it." The best things in life are free We don't have to pay for the things that are really valuable, like love, friendship and good health. The darkest hour is always before dawn This proverb says that just before the sun rises the sky is at its blackest, suggesting that when times are at their worst for us they will soon get better. The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose 1) Bad people can appear to be good to achieve their objective. 2) Even good things can be twisted to achieve bad ends. The Devil sometimes speaks the truth 1) Sometimes what Satan says is true, to make us more ready to believe his lies. 2) Don't believe everything at face value. Be aware that liars can use the truth to trick us. The early bird catches the worm Birds that wake early in the morning will find worms to eat, but birds that wake late will find no worms. The saying suggests that the same is true for us in life. If we do something early, before other people, we will be successful. The end justifies the means If our objective is good, then it doesn't matter if the way we achieve it is bad or wrong or evil. The greater the sinner, the greater the saint 1) If a bad person can become good, a very bad person can become very good. Someone with great energy for doing bad, may, when he chooses, apply it equally to doing good. 2) Converts are the Page 20 of 25

most zealous. In a day-to-day sense, for example, someone who has given up smoking may preach more about the virtues of not smoking than someone who never smoked. The nearer the Church, the farther from God 1) The implication is that those who are most involved in any religious system, its organizers and high priests, are in danger of separating themselves from God. 2) If written as "The nearer the church, the farther from God", the implication might be a warning about placing too much importance on material buildings, and a reminder that God is everywhere. The pen is mightier than the sword This proverb suggests that written material like books or poetry has more influence than fighting or war. We may also understand from it that ideas (as often set down in writing) are more effective than violence. The rich knows not who is his friend When you have money, you don't know if people are friendly with you because they like you, or because they like your money. The structure of this saying is difficult. In normal English it would be something like: "Rich people do not know who their friends are." The road to hell is paved with good intentions 1) People who believe they are doing good can end up doing bad (the law of unintended consequences). 2) There is no value in simply planning to do good if you don't actually do it. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak Even though we may want to say "No" to temptation (doing something bad), our body may be unable to resist it. The squeaking wheel gets the grease The person who makes the most fuss gets all the attention. The tide must be taken when it comes We should use all opportunities when they come, before it's too late. The wages of sin is death If we sin we die. ("Death" here refers not to physical death but to spiritual death or eternal damnation.) The way to a man's heart is through his stomach Many women have won a man's love by cooking delicious meals for him. They fed his stomach and found love in his heart. The wish is father to the thought Our opinions or beliefs are often influenced by our desires and hopes. The phrase "father to" is used in the sense of parentage: the thought is born from the wish. There are two sides to every question In any dispute or discussion, we should acknowledge that people have different points of view. There is a time to speak and a time to be silent We should know when to say something and when to say nothing. Page 21 of 25

There is safety in numbers You are safer as part of a group of people than as an individual. Being in a group makes people more confident about taking action. There is truth in wine When people are drunk, what they say is often true. People often speak the truth when they lose their self-control. There's no such thing as a free lunch We cannot get something for nothing. We must pay for everything. Nothing in life is free. There's one law for the rich, and another for the poor The legal system treats people with money better than people without money. They also serve who only stand and wait We all have a place in this world and we all perform a function, regardless of our ability or disability. The word order of this sentence may make it more difficult to understand. In normal English it would be something like: "They (those people) who only stand and wait, also serve." They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind A warning that we must expect to suffer serious consequences as the result of our own bad actions. We get back what we give out. Things are not always what they seem Things may look like one thing but be another thing. This saying is often applied to situations, not just things or people. Time and tide wait for no man 1) Nobody can stop the progression of time. 2) We should act on favourable opportunities immediately, without delay. Too many cooks spoil the broth Sometimes it is better to have one or a few people do a job than to have many people do it. If too many people are involved, the task will not be done well. Truth has no answer It is difficult to argue against facts. We cannot refute what is true. Truth is stranger than fiction Real life can be more amazing and difficult to believe than made-up stories. Truth needs no colours Facts are facts. What is true is true, and it does not need decoration. Truth will out In the end, what is true will come to be known. The truth always appears eventually, despite all efforts to hide it. It is impossible to keep something secret forever. Two heads are better than one Two people can usually solve a problem more easily than one person. Page 22 of 25

Two wrongs do not make a right If somebody does something bad to you, it will not make things ok if you do something bad to them in return.

1 Saying beginning with U

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings United we stand, divided we fall If we work together we can be successful. If we fight each other we will fail.

2 Sayings beginning with V

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Variety is the spice of life Monotony is bad for us. We need plenty of change. It adds interest to our lives, just as spice adds interest to food. Virtue is its own reward When we do something virtuous or good, we don't need any reward or compensation. The knowledge that we have done good is reward enough.

12 Sayings beginning with W

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Waste not, want not If we do not waste things we will not be short of things. If we use our resources carefully, we shall never be in need. We must learn to walk before we can run We have to be patient when learning. Babies crawl before they walk. And children walk before they run. We cannot do difficult tasks before we can do easy tasks. What you see is what you get 1) There is nothing hidden. What you are looking at is the real thing. 2) In computing, the way something displays on the screen is the way it will display in print (or other media) -- hence the acronym WYSIWYG.

Page 23 of 25

What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander In any question, what is appropriate in one case is also appropriate in the other case. When one door shuts, another opens An optimistic view on life, in which a refusal or failure is always followed by another opportunity. When the cat's away the mice will play This famous saying suggests that when a person in authority is not present, the people under his rule will enjoy their freedom. When the devil cannot come, he will send The implication is that the devil is very persistent. He will always find a way to tempt us. If the devil cannot bring temptation to us himself, he will find someone else to bring it. When the going gets tough, the tough get going When a situation is difficult or dangerous, strong people work harder to resolve the problem. This saying relies on a difficult play on words; it could be rephrased word-for-word as: "When the situation becomes hard, strong people start working." Where there's a will there's a way If we have the determination to do something, we can always find the path or method to do it. Where there's muck there's brass There is money to be made in dirt and dirty jobs. For example, many people have made fortunes by processing rubbish or waste materials. Women will have the last word A man cannot win an argument with a woman. Women talk more than men. They can always add something more to what they are saying. Would you buy a used car from this man? Do you trust this man? I don't.

5 Sayings beginning with Y

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink You can show people the way to find something or to do something, but you cannot force them to act after that. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs Sometimes, when we want to create or achieve something, we must sacrifice or destroy another thing to do it.

Page 24 of 25

You can't take it with you when you die When we die we leave everything on earth. We don't take anything with us. Even the richest people cannot take their money with them after death. This proverb reminds us that some material or worldly things are not really so valuable as we may think. You can't tell a book by its cover You cannot judge what something or someone is like by looking at the exterior. You don't keep a dog and bark yourself If you pay someone to do a job, or you have servants to do it, it makes no sense to do the job yourself.

2 Sayings beginning with Z

Click on any saying for more information and notes.
Sayings Zeal without prudence is frenzy If the energy of zeal is not counterbalanced by thought, then it is not zeal but a kind of mental derangement. Zeal, when it is a virtue, is a dangerous one According to this saying, "good zeal" cannot exist. It seems that zeal is inherently dangerous. When zeal is not a virtue, by definition it is not good. When zeal is a virtue, according to this saying it is dangerous, which is also not good. This saying relies heavily on paradox for its effect.

Page 25 of 25