Most Familiar English Proverbs With Their Meanings

Proverbs English Eduhyme

Proverbs have become an essential and enduring part of daily speech in all societies and environment. Proverbs are relatively easy for nonnative speakers to learn and use. Once the concept of the proverb is understood, students can often relate it to similar concepts, in their own languages whereas correct.

This article has been developed to help students for better understanding the English. In this article, the only proverbs are included which are most familiar to and most frequently used by native speakers of English. Each proverb is presented in its most common form together with a standard English definition.

This article is an excellent guide for teaching an aspect of English that is such an integral part of the language.

Note – Many of the proverbs have variant forms as well as more than one possible meaning.

  1. Birds of a Feather Flock Together – people of the same type seem to gather together
  2. In Unity There Is Strength – a group of people with the same goals can accomplish more than individuals can
  3. It Takes Two to Tango – when two people work as a team, they are both responsible for the team’s successes and failures
  4. A Man Is Known by the Company He Keeps – a person is believed to be like the people with whom he or she spends time
  5. Misery Loves Company – unhappy people often get satisfaction from having others share their misery
  6. There’s No Place like Home – a person is happiest with his or her family and friends
  7. Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth – too many people trying to take care of something can ruin it
  8. Two Heads Are Better Than One – two people working together can solve a problem quicker and better than a person working alone
  9. Two’s Company, but Three’s a Crowd – couples often enjoy their privacy and dislike having a third person around
  10. An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away – eating an apple every day helps a person to stay healthy
  11. Do As I Say, Not As I Do – follow my advice, but don’t follow my example
  12. If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them – if you can’t defeat your opponents, join forces with them
  13. If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen – if you can’t tolerate the pressures of a particular situation, remove yourself from that situation
  14. Leave Well Enough Alone – don’t try to improve something that is already satisfactory
  15. Look before You Leap – consider all aspects of a situation before you take any action
  16. Make Hay While the Sun Shines – take advantage of an opportunity to do something
  17. Strike While the Iron Is Hot – act at the best possible time
  18. Way to a Man’s Heart Is through His Stomach – the way to gain a man’s love is by preparing food that he enjoys
  19. When in Rome Do As the Romans Do – when traveling, follow the customs of the local people
  20. All That Glitters Is Not Gold – some things are not as valuable as they appear to be
  21. Curiosity Killed the Cat – it is dangerous to be curious
  22. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew – don’t assume more responsibility than you can handle; don’t be overconfident
  23. Don’t Bite the Hand That Feeds You – don’t hurt someone who takes care of you
  24. Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They’re Hatched – don’t plan on the successful results of something until those results actually occur
  25. Don’t Judge a Man until You’ve Walked in His Boots – don’t criticize a person until you’ve tried to do the things he or she does
  26. Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth – don’t complain about something that is given to you
  27. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket – don’t risk losing everything at once
  28. Put Off for Tomorrow What You Can Do Today – don’t unnecessarily postpone doing something
  29. Don’t Put the Cart before the Horse – don’t do things in the wrong order
  30. A Miss Is As Good As a Mile – losing by a narrow margin is no different than losing by a wide margin
  31. The Road to Hell Is Paved with Good Intentions – good intentions don’t always lead to good actions
  32. Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire – when there is evidence of a problem, there probably is a problem
  33. The First Step Is Always the Hardest – the most difficult part of accomplishing something is getting started
  34. Forewarned Is Forearmed – being warned about something before it happens allows a person to prepare for it
  35. He Who Hesitates Is Lost – a person who doesn’t act decisively is unlikely to succeed
  36. No Pain, No Gain – nothing can be accomplished without effort
  37. Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained – you can’t achieve anything if you don’t try
  38. The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword – the written word is more powerful than physical force
  39. Practice Makes Perfect – doing something many times improves one’s skill at it
  40. Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day – important things do not happen overnight
  41. The Squeaking Wheel Gets the Oil – those who complain the loudest get the most attention
  42. You’re Never Too Old to Learn – a person can learn at any age
  43. Beggars Can’t Be Choosers – when a person has nothing, he or she must accept whatever help is offered
  44. Clothes Do Not Make the Man – a person should not be judged by the clothes he or she wears
  45. A Leopard Cannot Change His Spots – a person cannot change his or her basic character once it has been formed
  46. Man Does Not Live by Bread Alone – people’s psychological needs as well as their physical needs must be satisfied if they are to live
  47. Money Does Not Grow on Trees – money is not easily obtained
  48. One Swallow Does Not a Summer Make – one piece of evidence is not enough to prove something
  49. Too Many Chiefs, Not Enough Indians – too many people are giving orders, and not enough people are following orders
  50. You Can Lead a Horse to Water, but You Can’t Make Him Drink – you can propose a course of action to someone, but you can’t force that person to accept it
  51. You Can’t Have Your Cake and Eat It Too – you can’t enjoy the advantages of two conflicting activities at once
  52. You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks – elderly people can’t change their behavior or learn anything new
  53. The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree – children take after their parents
  54. Barking Dogs Seldom Bite – people who threaten others usually do not hurt them
  55. Better a Live Coward Than a Dead Hero – it’s better to run from a life-threatening situation than to fight and risk being killed
  56. A Fool and His Money Are Soon Parted – a foolish person quickly spends his or her money on worthless things
  57. He Who Laughs Last, Laughs Best – the person who succeeds in making the last move has the most fun
  58. Old Habits Die Hard – it is very difficult to change an established pattern of behavior
  59. One Man’s Gravy Is Another Man’s Poison – what is pleasing to one person may not be pleasing to another
  60. The Spirit Is Willing, but the Flesh Is Weak – a person’s body is not always as strong as his or her mind
  61. There Is No Honor among Thieves – one dishonest person cannot trust another
  62. There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat – there are many ways to achieve a goal
  63. There’s No Fool like an Old Fool – a foolish act seems even more foolish when performed by an older person, who should have a lot of wisdom
  64. Variety Is the Spice of Life – differences and changes make life enjoyable
  65. When the Cat’s Away the Mice Will Play – some people will misbehave when they are not being watched
  66. Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder – people often feel more affectionate toward each other when they are apart
  67. Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder – what seems ordinary or ugly to one person might seem beautiful to another
  68. Blood Is Thicker Than Water – members of the same family share stronger ties with each other than they do with others
  69. Familiarity Breeds Contempt – when you know people well you will discover their weaknesses and you may come to scorn them
  70. A Friend in Need Is a Friend Indeed – a true friend will help you in a time of trouble
  71. A Friend Who Shares Is a Friend Who Cares – a true friend unselfishly shares what he or she has
  72. Imitation Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery – trying to be like someone is the most genuine way of praising that person
  73. Love Is Blind – one sees no faults in the person one loves
  74. Actions Speak Louder Than Words – people’s actions are more convincing than their words are
  75. Better Late Than Never – it’s better to do something late than not to do it at all
  76. Better Safe Than Sorry – it is better to choose a safe course of action than a risky one that could lead to regrets
  77. A Bird in the Hand Is Worth Two in the Bush – something you already have is better than something you might get
  78. Charity Begins at Home – one should take care of one’s own family, friends, or fellow citizens before helping other people
  79. Makes Waste – when one hurries too much, one is likely to do a poor job and have to waste time doing it over
  80. Love Makes the World Go Round – when people show respect and consideration for one another, the world is a better place
  81. One Good Turn Deserves Another – a favor should be repaid with another favor
  82. You Have to Take the Good with the Bad – you must accept disappointment along with success
  83. You Reap What You Sow – the amount of effort you put into something determines how much you will get out of it
  84. After the Feast Comes the Reckoning – people must always pay the price of their excesses
  85. Bad News Travels Fast – reports of problems and misfortune spread quickly
  86. The Best Things in Life Are Free – the things that give a person the most happiness don’t cost anything
  87. The Bigger They Are, the Harder They Fall – the more important someone is, the more severe are the consequences of his or her failure
  88. Good Things Come in Small Packages – small containers can hold objects of great value
  89. The Grass Is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence – another place or situation always appears to be better than your own
  90. Hindsight Is Better Than Foresight – people see and understand things more clearly after they’ve happened than before they’ve happened
  91. It Never Rains but It Pours – good and bad things tend to happen in groups
  92. Lightning Never Strikes Twice in the Same Place – the same misfortune won’t happen twice to the same person
  93. Might Makes Right – the stronger of two opponents will always control the situation
  94. No News Is Good News – if one does not hear the outcome of a situation, that outcome must be positive
  95. Nothing Hurts like the Truth – it is painful to discover an unpleasant truth about oneself
  96. Possession Is Nine-Tenths of the Law – the person who possesses something has the strongest claim to owning it
  97. The Proof of the Pudding Is in the Eating – the only way to judge something is to try it
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