A proverb is a short, well-known pithy saying, stating a general truth or piece of advice. Proverbs are popular sayings that provide nuggets of wisdom. Advice given in proverbs are generally based on experience or a traditionally-held truth.
In this article, we have compiled a list of popular English proverbs and their meanings.
You may also like to check out: Proverbs About Life
200 Popular English Proverbs and Their Meanings
Meaning: A disreputable or prodigal person will always return. More generally, this proverb refers to the recurrence of any unwanted event.
Meaning: This proverb is used when someone blames the quality of their equipment or other external factors when they perform a task poorly.
Meaning: Things we already have are more valuable than what we hope to get.
Meaning: When people we love are not with us, we love them even more.
Meaning: An inferior isn’t completely restricted in what they may do in the presence of a superior.
Meaning: One weak part will render the whole weak.
Meaning: Actions are a better reflection of one’s character because it’s easy to say things, but difficult to act on them and follow through.
Meaning: When someone is in a difficult situation, s/he will take any available opportunity to improve it.
Meaning: Foolish people do not know how to hold on to their money.
Meaning: someone who needs your help becomes especially friendly in order to obtain it’
Meaning: sufficient money, or the promise of it, will allow the possessor of it to do anything they wish.
Meaning: A modern-day proverb, bemoaning the difficulty of finding a suitable male partner.
Meaning: Howsoever big a task is, it starts with a small step.
Meaning: A person can’t change its innate character, especially bad.
Meaning: Good experiences eventually come to an end.
Meaning: As long as the outcome is good, problems on the way don’t matter.
Meaning: Things that look good outwardly may not be as valuable or good.
Meaning: Try as hard as you can or give your best.
Meaning: A narrow miss is as bad as a wide miss – they are both misses.
Meaning: An incapable person can gain powerful position if others in the fray are even more incapable.
Meaning: Eating an apple a day will keep you healthy.
Meaning: Foolish or stupid people are the most talkative.
Meaning: If you’ve nothing to do, you’ll likely think of mischief.
Meaning: A little precaution before a crisis hits is better than lot of firefighting afterwards.
Meaning: It is as useful to save money that you already have as it is to earn more.
Meaning: It is easier to show or explain something through a picture than through words.
Meaning: Everything should have somewhere to be stored and that it should be tidily returned there when not in use.
Meaning: Outward appearance may not be what you believe them to be.
Meaning: When in difficulties it is useful to talk to someone about them.
Meaning: A person who is always changing jobs and places has the advantage of less responsibilities, but also the disadvantage of no fixed place to live.
Meaning: Get out of your comfort zone to grow and fulfill your potential.
Meaning: Timely effort prevents more work later.
Meaning: Your actions whether good or bad, determine what you get.
Meaning: The experience of beauty is blissful and lasting.
Meaning: A good beginning makes it easier to accomplish the rest of the project.
Meaning: Time seems to go slower when you are anxiously waiting for something to happen.
Meaning: Bad things/people drive out good things/people
Meaning: human nature is more interested in failure than success of others.
Meaning: People who appear threatening rarely do harm.
Meaning: Turn to peaceful pursuits and away from war.
Meaning: What one person finds beautiful another may not.
Meaning: If you request something to be given you should not question what you are given.
Meaning: A great woman is often ignored or taken for granted.
Meaning: Choose things or people after proper diligence, but once you choose, stick for long.
Meaning: A person’s character, intellect, and other inner qualities are more important than his/ her physical beauty.
Meaning: The most valuable things are often free.
Meaning: To arrive or do something later than expected isn’t good, but it is better than not at all.
Meaning: Good health is more important than money.
Meaning: It is better to remain active than to be idle
Meaning: To fail, due to being unable to choose between two alternatives.
Meaning: Don’t trust your enemies.
Meaning: Those of similar taste congregate in groups.
Meaning: Family bonds are closer than those of outsiders.
Meaning: It is used to express resignation at, or even encouragement of, the bad behaviour of boys, imagining it to be an inevitable consequence of their gender.
Meaning: Make an improvement to an existing product or service.
Meaning: It expresses the overriding demand to take care of one’s family, before caring for others.
Meaning: Those who are pure and wholesome are close to God.
Meaning: A person’s character can’t be judged by his/ her clothing and outward appearance.
Meaning: Cowards suffer the feared effects of death many times over in their lives.
Meaning: Punishment rather than profit is the ultimate consequence of crime.
Meaning: Do things in the easiest possible way.
Meaning: Inquisitiveness can lead one into dangerous situations.
Meaning: The consequences of doing wrong always catch up with the wrongdoer.
Meaning: Different ways of doing things are appropriate for different people.
Meaning: It is wise to be careful and not show unnecessary bravery.
Meaning: Don’t take more responsibility than you can handle.
Meaning: Don’t act badly toward the person who has helped you or from whom you derive some benefits, for you may lose those benefits in future.
Meaning: You should avoid proudly talking of your achievements and success in front of others.
Meaning: Don’t offer something valuable to someone who doesn’t value it.
Meaning: Don’t change your leader or your basic position when part-way through a campaign or a project .
Meaning: Don’t be hasty in evaluating one’s assets.
Meaning: Deal with a situation when it happens and not unnecessarily worry about it in advance.
Meaning: Don’t form an opinion about someone (or something) from their outward appearance.
Meaning: Don’t disadvantage yourself in order to do harm to an adversary.
Meaning: When suffering a loss at the hands of another, don’t waste your energy on anger but work towards redressing the harm done.
Meaning: You should not pay someone to do a task and then do it yourself.
Meaning: You should not destroy something that makes lot of money for you.
Meaning: Don’t disclose a secret either deliberately or inadvertently.
Meaning: Don’t be ungrateful when you receive a gift.
Meaning: Don’t put all your effort into a single course of action, venture, investment, goal, or the like, because if it doesn’t work, you lose everything.
Meaning: Do things in proper order.
Meaning: Don’t waste time taking precautions when the damage has already been done.
Meaning: Don’t discard something valuable while getting rid of something worthless.
Meaning: Don’t create a difficulty
Meaning: One who starts early on the work has higher chance of success.
Meaning: Wherever you travel in the world, your home is the best place to be.
Meaning: When you get something easily through the wrong means, chances are you will lose it the same way.
Meaning: A poor or hungry person cannot discharge his duties well.
Meaning: A man’s home is his refuge.
Meaning: Even the humblest and weakest will retaliate if provoked sufficiently.
Meaning: Every bad or negative situation can result in some benefit to you.
Meaning: Even the unluckiest or the most unfortunate will taste success at some point.
Meaning: Your own actions and decisions decide what you achieve (or don’t) in life.
Meaning: Anyone can be swayed to do something. It’s just that some may demand high price, some low.
Meaning: An exchange of two things of equal value is a reasonable and honest trade.
Meaning: Faith is immensely powerful.
Meaning: Be resilient and try despite failures. That’s how you succeed.
Meaning: If you know a situation, person, or thing well, you stop respecting them and become careless.
Meaning: Respond to an attack by using a similar method as one’s attacker.
Meaning: Nothing concrete is achieved by empty words or flattery.
Meaning: Fools or inexperienced persons get involved in situations or pursue goals without much thought. In contrast, the wise are thoughtful about such situations or goals.
Meaning: If you carry out your plans boldly, the luck is more likely to favor you.
Meaning: Advance warning provides an advantage.
Meaning: Genius is largely the result of hard work, rather than an inspired flash of insight.
Meaning: To leave a place or situation before conditions worsen and it becomes difficult to leave.
Meaning: The ability to work is of greater benefit than a one-off handout.
Meaning: If you give someone a small amount of power or freedom to do something, they may try to get a lot more.
Meaning: God doesn’t help those who don’t try. You’ve to make effort if you want to succeed.
Meaning: Patience is often rewarded.
Meaning: Great enterprises may have modest beginnings.
Meaning: If you share your grief, it’ll get easier to bear.
Meaning: Getting less than what one wants is better than not getting anything.
Meaning: Rushing into a decision may cause mistakes that waste more time than would have been taken by proceeding more carefully.
Meaning: It’s always better to be truthful and honest, even if the opposite may get you the benefits.
Meaning: Be optimistic, but be prepared for a scenario where things can go wrong.
Meaning: If something is working fine, don’t change it unnecessarily.
Meaning: If a description applies to you, then accept it.
Meaning: If things don’t turn the way you want them to, then adjust your way to suit those things.
Meaning: If things were to happen by just wishing them, even the poorest will have everything they want.
Meaning: If you can’t beat your opponent, then work alongside them for mutual benefit.
Meaning: Don’t persist with a task if the pressure of it is too much for you.
Meaning: If you do something dangerous or adventurous, you may get harmed.
Meaning: If you don’t know about something, you don’t need to bother about it.
Meaning: It’s better to be cautious than regret later.
Meaning: It is easy to understand what you could have done to prevent something bad from happening after it has happened.
Meaning: It’s never too late to change your wrong ways or habits.
Meaning: Till the event has completely played, you’re still in with a chance to succeed.
Meaning: There is no point in staying upset over a mistake because you can’t undo what has happened.
Meaning: An argument of quarrel is not one person’s fault.
Meaning: Nothing is irreversible until the final act is played out.
Meaning: A man who can turn his hand to many things.
Meaning: Speak only when necessary and remain alert and observant at all times.
Meaning: Remain cheerful in a difficult situation.
Meaning: Be prepared and save your resources until they are needed.
Meaning: To be aware of which side of a conflict it is in your interests to be on.
Meaning: Thinking positively and laughing will help you to feel better.
Meaning: The notion that simplicity and clarity lead to good design.
Meaning: Learn basic skills first before venturing into complex things.
Meaning: Don’t talk about a bad situation people have forgotten and that could unnecessarily create problem in the present.
Meaning: Life begins to be better in one’s middle age.
Meaning: Misfortune does not occur twice in the same way to the same person.
Meaning: Consider all consequences before taking an action, especially when you can’t retract.
Meaning: Make the most of one’s opportunities while you have the chance.
Meaning: Many small amounts accumulate to make a large amount.
Meaning: Spend money carefully because it’s limited.
Meaning: Money gives one power and influence.
Meaning: A need or problem forces people to come up with innovative solutions.
Meaning: Don’t delay doing something if you can do it immediately.
Meaning: Think twice before placing all your wealth and investments on one thing.
Meaning: It is necessary to suffer or work hard in order to succeed or make progress.
Meaning: Humans need to be part of a community in order to thrive.
Meaning: If you don’t receive any news about someone or something, it means that everything is fine and going normally.
Meaning: When someone is hurt doing something, they are wary of doing it again for fear of being hurt a second time.
when someone does you a good turn, a good turn done in return is appropriate.
Meaning: What may seem to be junk to one person maybe valuable to another.
Meaning: Sometimes you get so focused on small details that you may miss the larger context.
Meaning: If someone or something is not seen for a long time, it’ll be forgotten.
Meaning: Thinking and writing have more influence on people and events than use of force.
Meaning: People who have faults should not criticize other people for having the same faults.
Meaning: You can achieve better results through persuasion than through coercion.
Meaning: Doing something over and over makes one better at it.
Meaning: Behave the way you encourage other people to behave.
Meaning: It is a warning that haughtiness and hubris leads to failure and loss.
Meaning: Putting off an action leads to time wasting. If something is necessary, it is best to act quickly to accomplish it.
Meaning: Respond to a problem by applying oneself and making your best effort.
Meaning: Vengeance is more satisfying when exacted some time after the harm that instigated it.
Meaning: Important work takes time to complete.
Meaning: If you don’t object to what someone says or does, you may be assumed to agree to some extent.
Meaning: Slow and consistent work leads to better chance of success than quick work in spurts.
Meaning: If a person doesn’t speak much, it doesn’t mean they lack depth or are uninteresting.
Meaning: Take advantage of an opportunity as soon as it comes along.
Meaning: A tactic of caution and non-aggression, backed up by the ability to carry out violent action if required.
Meaning: Despite best preparations, things may not go your way.
Meaning: Artisans work for the wealthy but cannot afford their own produce.
Meaning: The view that popular music, is predominantly secular rather than religious.
Meaning: The idea that other people’s situations always seem better than one’s own.
Meaning: A desired result is so important that any method, even a morally bad one, may be used to achieve it.
Meaning: The harder you work, the more good ideas and chances you may make for yourself.
Meaning: You can only judge the quality of something after you have tried, used, or experienced it.
Meaning: There is more than one way to reach the same goal.
Meaning: The best time to do something is right now. So, act now.
Meaning: A group offers more protection than when you are on your own.
Meaning: Good intentions do not matter if a person’s actions lead to bad outcomes.
Meaning: People who complain the most are the ones who get attention or what they want.
Meaning: You’ve no control over passage of time; it’ll keep slipping. So don’t procrastinate, don’t delay things.
Meaning: When too many people work together on a project, the result is inferior.
Meaning: Hope and anticipation are often better than reality.
Meaning: When conditions become difficult, strong people take action.
Meaning: When visiting a foreign land, follow the customs of local people.
Meaning: If you are determined enough, you can find a way to achieve what you want, even if it is difficult.
Meaning: If there are rumors or signs that something is true so it must be at least partly true.
Meaning: When you lose an opportunity to do one thing, an opportunity to do something else appears.
Meaning: Without supervision, people will do as they please, especially in disregarding or breaking rules.
Meaning: It’s easier to win people to your side by persuasion and politeness than by confrontation and threats.
Meaning: You can show people the way to do things, but you can’t force them to act.
Meaning: You can’t force someone into a role for which s/he is not suited.
Meaning: It is hard to achieve something important without causing unpleasant effects.
Meaning: Some actions are irreversible.
Meaning: It is not possible to succeed at everything you do.
Meaning: Old People learn less well than the young.