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Proverbs

Proverbs are long life experiences, told in one short sentence

Cultures from all over the world have their own proverbs, although sometimes proverbs are borrowed from another language or are extracts from literary works.

As it represents the wisdom of a population, a proverb is mainly based on a population’s experience about everyday life, logic and common sense. From this perspective, a proverb can reveal a lot about its people.

Proverbs can be about everyday experiences on common topics like

life

bad news travel fast

love

absence makes the heart grow fonder

work

ability can take you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there

or they can give specific advice about how to behave in particular situations

before criticizing a man, walk a mile in his shoes

a blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword

or how to do something

a candle loses nothing by lighting another candle

desperate times call for desperate measures

Medical advice is very common

an apple a day keeps the doctor away

as well as  proverbs that praise animals’ behaviour in particular situations

the early bird catches the worm

Proverbs are usually built on linguistic features like rhyme, assonance, alliteration, parallelism, metaphors, similes and personification, they are short and easy to learn and remember.

I have grouped some according to their themes. You will notice that most of them have an equivalent in the Italian language. In this way, they will be easier to remember for you.

Love

The course of true love never did run smooth.

Love is blind

Lucky at cards, unlucky at love

Hope

All things come to those who wait

The darkest hour is just before the dawn

The best of things come in small packages

Advice

(medical)

Eat to live, don’t live to eat

The best doctors are Dr Diet, Dr Quiet and Dr Merryman

Appetite comes with eating

Prevention is better than cure

(animals)

The leopard does not change his spots

Three things cannot be trusted: a cow’s horn, a dog’s tooth, and a horse’s hoof

Eagles don’t catch flies

The early bird catches the worm

A barking dog never bites

Curiosity killed the cat

(general)

Try try but don’t cry

Never judge a book by its cover

Forewarned is forearmed

Revenge is a dish best served cold

Don’t cry before you’re hurt.

Fall down seven times, stand up eight

Everyone must row with the oars he has

Wisdom

(animals)

A mouse may help a lion

Dog does not eat dog

All cats are grey in the dark.

Fish and  guests stink after three days

Birds of a feather flock together

(general)

All that glitters is not gold

Silence is golden

Practice makes perfect

Bad news travels fast

Actions speak louder than words

All’s well that ends well.

Better to be envied than pitied

Experience is the best teacher

Dream of a funeral and you hear of a marriage

Necessity is the mother of invention

No news is good news

One nail drives out another

(time)

Time heals all wounds

Slow but sure

All things come to those who wait

Better late than never

(men)

Clothes make the man

You’re never too old to learn

Nobody’s perfect

A great talker is a great liar

A friend in need is a friend indeed

How many proverbs did you recognize as also existing in your own language?

Have a look at www.creativeproverbs.com (the link is in the NETtips reading section on the right) to learn more about proverbs from all over the world!

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