Witty and Wise Chinese Proverbs

Here is a delightful collection of Chinese proverbs which gives us a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Chinese people. Their wise sayings are drawn from experience of their daily lives, observation on subjects ranging from friendship to common sense and folk wisdom. The value of Chinese proverbs has increased with the passing of the ages because they ring as true today as they were thousands of years ago.

Reading Pavilion at Chinese Garden of Friendship - Darling Harbour
Reading Pavilion at Chinese Garden of Friendship - Darling Harbour | Source

  • A single spark can set a prairie on fire.
  • Water can both sustain and sink a ship.
  • Count not what is lost, but what is left.
  • If there is a strong general there will be no weak soldiers.
  • To extend your life by a year take one less bite each meal.
  • Peace only comes when reason rules.
  • Even the tallest tower started form the ground.
  • Eloquence provides only persuasion, but truth buys loyalty.
  • Wisdom is attained by learning when to hold one's tongue.
  • A single tree cannot make a forest

2007 Chinese New Year's Parade -Sydney.
2007 Chinese New Year's Parade -Sydney. | Source

  • If one eats less one will taste more.
  • One hand alone cannot clap, it takes two to quarrel.
  • It does not matter if the cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice.
  • Cowards have dreams, brave men have visions
  • Learning is like the horizon; there is no limit.
  • The old horse will know the way
  • A good friend shields you from the storm
  • Change the skin, wash the heart
  • Sow melon, reap melon; sow beans, reap beans.
  • One sings, all follow.

Chinatown - Melbourne
Chinatown - Melbourne | Source

  • Fortune has a fickle heart and a short memory.
  • Harsh words and poor reasoning never settle anything.
  • Dangerous enemies will meet again in narrow streets.
  • Better to bend in the wind than to break.
  • Do not kill the hen for her eggs.
  • First attain skill; creativity comes later.
  • Make the cap fit the head.
  • A single beam cannot support a great house.
  • Do not be concerned with things outside your door.
  • Wise men may not be learned; learned men may not be wise.

Chinese Round Pavillion- Darling Harbour, Sydney.
Chinese Round Pavillion- Darling Harbour, Sydney. | Source

  • Crows are black the world over.
  • Do not lift a rock only to drop it on your own foot
  • Kill the chicken to frigthen the monkey
  • Wait long, strike fast.
  • Do not wait until you're thirsty to dig a well
  • One who would pick the roses must bear with thorns
  • Failure is the mother of success.
  • Do not climb a tree to look for a fish
  • Only time and effort brings proficiency
  • Distance tests the endurance of a horse; time reveals a man's character.

Chinese Garden of Friendship - Darling Harbour , Sydney
Chinese Garden of Friendship - Darling Harbour , Sydney | Source
  • Man proposes and God disposes.
  • Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.
  • It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.
  • Man fools himself. He prays for a long life and he fears old age.
  • A really great man never puts away the simplicity of a child.
  • Only joy scatters a hundred griefs.
  • Drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dug it.
  • Only he that has traveled the road knows where the holes are deep.
  • Honest advice is unpleasant to the ear.
  • An open book benefits your mind.


  • Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
  • Heaven has a road, but no one travels it, hell has no gate but men will dig to get there.
  • Preserve the old, but know the new.
  • A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.
  • A closed mind is like a closed book, just a block of wood.
  • To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.
  • It is not necessary to light a candle to the sun.
  • Talk doesn't cook rice
  • If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.
  • He who asks is a fool for 5 minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.

More Chinese Proverbs and Sayings

  • Sayings of Confucius
    Sayings from a wise man, born in 551 BCE in a small State of Lu and became one of China's great philosopher.
  • 38 Witty and Wise Chinese Sayings
    Chinese sayings are simple, short and witty but they give a direct message that will reach the heart and mind of the readers, they are condensed truth that are evident in our daily life,
  • Quotations Library
    A collection of Chinese quotes


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Comments 49 comments

Neng 2 years ago

Really a great collection of thoughts, love this one "Water can both sustain and sink a ship." Share useful page here famous Chinese sayings

http://chinesequote.com


jojo 2 years ago

here's one:

"Better a little caution than a big regret."


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idigwebsites 2 years ago from United States

My most favorite: "Do not lift a rock only to drop it on your own foot" :)


Tabithar profile image

Tabithar 2 years ago from KY

I love inspirational proverbs/quotes. Clicking the follow button! :)


Ochala Odol Ochala 3 years ago

Very wonderful collection. Thanks to Chinese


epbooks profile image

epbooks 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

Very enjoyable! This one was one of my favorites: •Do not be concerned with things outside your door. Thanks for compiling this together!


Kim Jong 3 years ago

"Water can both sustain and sink a ship."

Never have "non loyal suporter"


newjerseybt 3 years ago

Birds with wet feet, don't fly high at night.


Tracywang profile image

Tracywang 4 years ago from Guilin,China

Good proverbs, love this one "Water can both sustain and sink a ship." Share useful page here famous Chinese sayings http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/learnin...


louromano profile image

louromano 4 years ago

Very nice pictures and proverbs! Thank you. Great hub.


kezang choden 4 years ago

Really, really loved them.Thanks for sharing


subbuthalavai 4 years ago

Not only a nice, but a very wise collection of wise and witty proverbs. Origin:Chinese. Usage:Universal. Thanks a lot.


Dimsiya 4 years ago

this are awesome proverbs


jwilla 4 years ago

very nice indeed it makes u think .:))


seeshma snnazzler 4 years ago

really a great collection of thoughts


shalom 4 years ago

• Do not climb a tree to look for a fish

sound fun, n true

but i don't get the mean?


coriwbaker 4 years ago

Awesome proverbs. Thanks for collecting and sharing them. I'll also share them.


Xaheen 4 years ago

Those were great! thanks!


Minh Anh 5 years ago

thank you for putting proverbs on the internet.


Corey Joyce 5 years ago

You actually make it appear so easy with your presentation however I to find this topic to be actually one thing that I feel I might by no means understand. It seems too complicated and very large for me. I'm having a look forward for your next publish, I'll try to get the cling of it!


pennyofheaven profile image

pennyofheaven 5 years ago from New Zealand

Excellent Collection! Thanks!


days leaper profile image

days leaper 5 years ago from england

It is very true that these fellows were and are a clever people. I feel I've learned something here. Thank You.


Jason 5 years ago

Very nice pictures and proverbs! Thank you! ^^


Zion 5 years ago

truth makes you stronger,wisdom makes things valuabe,knowledge gives the true value of power


rdpgiri@gmail.com 6 years ago

an excellent collection and a painstaking effort thanks a lot


MM Del Rosario profile image

MM Del Rosario 6 years ago from NSW, Australia Author

I enjoy making this hub and I am continuosly adding more quotes to it .... thanks for all your inspiring comments..

MM


KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

KoffeeKlatch Gals 6 years ago from Sunny Florida

Peace comes when reason rules is my favorite. Great collectin of quotes.


Amy 6 years ago

"Distance tests the endurance of a horse; time reveals a man's character."

My favorite quote, but this is not entirely accurate.

"??????????" originally, I believe (if I'm translating correctly) it's more like, "On a distant road you know a horse's strength; through long days you see a person's heart."

Then again, I'm not a professional translator, and I'm still learning Chinese! :]

Thank you for your efforts! I enjoyed reading.


Abenezer 6 years ago

Wow. What a beauty they are, fantastic delightful colorful, other too..... the give some impression upon once life. It make to diversify my knowledge too...


proverbs man 6 years ago

i know, those are nice pictures.


GojiJuiceGoodness profile image

GojiJuiceGoodness 6 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

Great hub! I love the pictures!


Moulik Mistry profile image

Moulik Mistry 6 years ago from Burdwan, West Bengal, India

Very nice collection - loved the proverbs...


Skylar C. 6 years ago

Nice quotes and pics, thanks for sharing.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

"Learning is like the horizon - there is no limit" - that's my favorite of the Chinese proverbs. And I plan to use it when soliciting new executive coaching clients. Thank you for expanding my horizon.


Sean Leong profile image

Sean Leong 6 years ago from Malaysia

Todd,

What the proverb means is, a person uses the wrong method to accomplish a task.


Sean Leong profile image

Sean Leong 6 years ago from Malaysia

MM,

I think "A single spark can set a prairie on fire" is a quotation by Mao Zedong,a Chinese revolutionary, political theorist and former Communist leader of the People's Republic of China and "It does not matter if the cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice" is a quotation by Deng Xiaoping, a prominent Chinese politician, statesman, theorist, diplomat and former leader of the Communist Party of China.


Todd 6 years ago

What if you cant see the fish from the waters edge. :)

climb the tree?


Ankush 6 years ago

Very to-the-point and practical collection!


tdarby profile image

tdarby 7 years ago

Loved them. Thanks


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 7 years ago

I especially like 'count not what is lost, but what is left'. I too share your love of quotes.


Seán Mc Mahon. 7 years ago

Long and thin may fit in, but short and thick did the the thrick.


heaven 7 years ago

that s really interesting... i would like to read more those things.


jbackus7 profile image

jbackus7 7 years ago

These are great quotes. Nice Hub


Randomized 7 years ago

Chinese sayings are catchy and true! Great work with the compalation.


M.D.R 7 years ago

Amazing compalation of chinese Genius through your choice.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 8 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

A lot of wisdom here. Enjoyed reading these old Chinese proverbs. Nice photos, too.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America

Wonderful!! And the one I took for my company motto:

When you reach the top of the Mountain, climb higher!


MM Del Rosario profile image

MM Del Rosario 9 years ago from NSW, Australia Author

Thanks for dropping by i am glad you enjoy the proverbs and the photos.


jstankevicz profile image

jstankevicz 9 years ago from Cave Creek

Very nice collection of proverbs and photos.

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