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Good Proverbs | What is a proverb

Updated on December 6, 2014
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence
The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

What is a proverb? Examples of proverbs

A proverb is a short, well-known pithy saying, stating a general truth or piece of advice. This is the dictionary definition. For example:

- Haste makes waste

- Where there is a will there is a way

The study of proverbs is called paremiology. Good proverbs are found in many parts of the world, some parts have a richer store of them than others. While each culture may have its own store of proverbs, proverbs are often borrowed across languages, cultures, geographies and time periods.

Typical features of a proverb are its shortness (the average proverb has only about seven words) and the fact that the author is unknown. (If the author were known it would be a quotation)

Why use a proverb?

Sometimes you can use some good proverbs to say something in an indirect and softer manner, rather than directly appearing to advise or direct someone. Since you are just putting forth a general proverb, the listener need not misunderstand it to be a direct attack or criticism.

For example if you sense that John is too impatient, is expecting immediate result for some endeavour, whereas ideally he should give it some time; instead of directly telling, "John! You are always in tearing hurry, you can't expect results overnight. You must learn to have some patience."; you could merely say, "John, as the famous proverb goes, 'All good things comes to he who waits'".

Often using some good proverbs in your speech might enhance your reputation as a speaker

Using a proverb gives weight to your argument/discussion/point of view since you are backed by some authority.

Some interesting proverbs

Contradictory proverbs

Some proverbs are contrary, for eaxmple

'All good things comes to he who waits' and 'Time and tide wait for no man'

'You are never too old to learn' and 'You can't teach an old dog new tricks'

Proverb humour and anti-proverbs

Proverb humour is proverbial! And most often seen on t-shirts.

For example: 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again' , is a proverb traced back to an eighteenth century maxim aimed at encouraging American children to do their homework

The 'anti-proverb' on a t-shirt reads, 'If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you!'

Another example: 'Where there's a will there's a way'

is humorously made as 'Where there's a will there is a relative'

Good proverbs

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

The best proverbs - well known proverbs

Of course no one can really make a universally accepted list of the best proverbs, because it is of course a subjective decision, a matter of opinion as to which are the best proverbs. But here are a few well known proverbs and old sayings, that I found good. These include proverbs bout life, proverbs about friendship and so on.

A friend in need is a friend indeed

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

A penny saved is a penny earned

A stitch in time saves nine

All good things come to he who waits

Don’t cross the bridge till you come to it

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise

Empty vessels make the most noise

Forgive and forget

Half a loaf is better than no bread

Haste makes waste

Honesty is the best policy

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try to try again

It is better to give than to receive

It’s no use crying over spilt milk

Many hands make light work

Necessity is the mother of invention

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today

Prevention is better than cure

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

The early bird catches the worm

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence

Time is money

Tomorrow never comes

Two wrongs don’t make a right

Waste not want not

Where there’s a will there’s a way

A person is known by the company he keeps

A place for everything and everything in its place

Actions speak louder than words

Better safe than sorry

Do unto others as you would have then do to you

Don’t cross the bridge till you come to it

Fortune favours the brave

God helps those who help themselves

He who hesitates is lost

If a job is worth doing it is worth doing well

Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone

A penny saved is a penny earned
A penny saved is a penny earned

What is your favorite proverb?

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    • profile image


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    • wwriter profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from India

      Thank you Greensleeves Hubs for the quotes. I really like the one about war; I wish all the powers that be in the world read and accept this.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 

      7 years ago from Essex, UK

      Nice collection of proverbs wwriter. Some clever and funny proverbs or quotations I like are:

      'Education is expensive, but ignorance can be much more expensive'

      'Never test the depth of water with both feet'

      'It is never too late to be what you might have been'

      'War does not determine who is right - war only determines who is left'

      I love your joke proverb about skydivers, but of course one proverb which is undoubtably wrong (in it's literal sense) is 'lightning never strikes twice in the same place', because of course, it usually does.



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