ADVICE IS CHEAP: 107 ENGLISH PROVERBS AND THEIR MEANING TO ENRICH YOUR WRITTEN AND SPOKEN ENGLISH
A change is as good as a rest! Therefore, contrary to our normal habit of receiving motivational articles, I bring to you today an educational article. I am a Cameroonian and my first language in French but I keep on improving on my English daily. Recently I came across some English proverbs and their meaning which help me to enrich my written and spoken English. Permit me share 107 of them with you.
The proverbs are in bold print while their meanings follow immediately
1) A bad excuse is better than none.= Always give an excuse, even if it’s a poor one.
2) A bad penny always turns up. = An unwanted or disreputable person constantly comes back.
3) A bad tree does not yield good apples. = A bad parent does not raise good children.
4) A bad workman blames his tools. =Blaming the tools for bad workmanship is an excuse for lack of skill.
5) A barking dog seldom bites.= Someone who constantly makes threats rarely carries them out.
6) A bird in hand is worth two in a bush.= It is better to keep what you have rather than to risk losing it by searching for something better.
7) A broken friendship may be soldered but will never be sound.= Friendships can be rebuilt after a dispute but will never be as strong as before.
8) A burden of one’s own choice is not felt.= Something difficult seems easier when it is done voluntarily.
9) A burnt child dreads the fire. =A bad experience will make people stay away from certain things.
10) A cat has nine lives. =1) Cats can survive many accidents because they land on their feet without injury. 2) Nine lives = 3 years to play, 3 years to stray, 3 years to stay.
11) A chain is no stronger than its weakest link. = The strength of a group depends on each individual member.
12) A change is as good as a rest.= A change in routine is often as refreshing as a break or a holiday.
13) A constant guest is never welcome. = If you come to visit too often, your host will be less pleased to see you.
14) A danger foreseen is half avoided. =If you are prepared to face a problem or difficulty, it will be easier to deal with.
15) A dry March, a wet April and a cool May fill barn and cellar and bring much hay. = Harvest predictions are made according to the weather.
16) A fault confessed is half redressed. =Confession is the beginning of forgiveness.
17) A flower blooms more than once. = If you miss an occasion, you can avail yourself of it another time.
18) A fool and his money are (soon) easily parted. = A foolish person usually spends money carelessly.
19) A fool at forty is a fool forever.= If a person hasn’t matured by the age of 40, they never will.
20) A friend in need is a friend indeed. = Someone who helps you when you are in trouble is a real friend.
21) A friend to all is a friend to none.= Someone who is a friend to everyone makes none of them feel special.
22) A friend’s eye is a good mirror.= A real friend will tell you the truth.
23) A good example is the best sermon.= Giving a good example is better than giving advice.
24) A good beginning makes a good end.= If a task is carefully planned, there’s a better chance that it will be well done.
25) A good conscience is a soft pillow. = You sleep well when you have nothing to be guilty about.
26) A guilty conscience needs no accuser.= If you know that you have done something wrong, you don’t need anyone to tell you that you’re guilty.
27) A hungry belly has no ears.= A hungry person is totally concentrated on their need for food and nothing else interests them.
28) A hungry wolf is fixed to no place. =A desperate person will go from place to place when they need to satisfy their needs.
29) A leopard cannot change its spots.= It is impossible for a bad or unpleasant person to become good or pleasant.
30) A lie begets a lie. =Telling one lie will lead you to tell another one.
31) A little fire is quickly trodden out.= If you deal with a minor problem quickly, it will not become a major issue.
32) A loaded wagon makes no noise. =Really wealthy people do not talk about money.
33) A loveless life is living death.= Without affection, life is difficult.
34) A man can die but once.= If death comes now, you will not have to experience it later.
35) A man is as old as he feels himself to be.= Your age doesn’t matter as long as you are fit and healthy.
36) A man is known by the company he keeps. =A person’s character is judged by the type of people with whom they spend their time.
37) A monkey in silk is a monkey no less.= No matter how someone dresses, it’s the same person underneath.
38) A new broom sweeps clean.= A newly-appointed person often makes changes quickly .
39) A problem shared is a problem halved.= It is easier to deal with a problem when you discuss it with someone.
40) A rising tide lifts all boats.= Refers to something that will be helpful to all.
41) A rolling stone gathers no moss= If a person keeps moving from place to place, they gain neither friends nor possessions. Another interpretation is that, by moving often, one avoids being tied down!
42) A rotten apple spoils the barrel.= A dishonest or immoral person can have a bad influence on a group.
43) A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.= Overcoming adversity leads to competence.
44) A stitch in time saves nine.= If you deal with a problem at an early stage you will save time and prevent it from getting worse.
45) A stumble may prevent a fall. =Correcting a small mistake may help you to avoid making a bigger one.
46) A swallow does not make the summer.= One good event does not mean that everything is alright.
47) A watched pot never boils.= If you wait anxiously for something to happen, it seems to take a long time.
48) A young idler, an old beggar.= If you don’t work, you won’t have any money when you’re old.
49) Absence makes the heart grow fonder. =When you are away from someone you love, you love them even more.
50) Accidents will happen.= Some unfortunate events must be accepted as inevitable.
51) Actions speak louder than words.= What a person actually does is more important than what they say they will do.
52) Adversity makes strange bedfellows. =People of all origins who share the same misfortune are drawn together.
53) Advice is cheap.= It doesn’t cost anything to offer advice.
54) Advice is least heeded when most needed.= When a problem is serious, people often do not follow the advice given.
55) Advisers run no risks. =It’s easier to give advice than to act.
56) After dinner rest a while, after supper walk a while.= Dinner is called ‘lunch’ nowadays, and supper has become ‘dinner’.
57) All cats are grey in the dark. =People are undistinguished until they have made a name for themselves.
58) All covet, all lose =If you try to obtain everything, you risk losing everything.
59) All days are short to industry and long to idleness.= Time goes by slowly when you have nothing to do.
60) All good things come to those who wait.= If you are patient you will be rewarded.
61) All that glitters is not gold.= Appearances can be deceptive.
62) All is fair in love and war.= Things that are done in love or war can often be excused.
63) All’s well that ends well.= There is a solution to everything even if there are doubts.
64) All roads lead to Rome= There are many different ways to reach an objective.
65) All things grow with time – except grief. =As time goes by, grief subsides little by little.
66) All things are difficult before they are easy. =With practice everything becomes easier.
67) All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. =Everybody needs a certain amount of relaxation. It is not good to work all the time.
68) An apple a day keeps the doctor away.= Eating an apple every day can help to keep you healthy. Other interpretation: A small preventive treatment wards off serious problems.
69) An empty purse frightens away friends. =When one’s financial situation deteriorates, friends tend to disappear.
70) An Englishman’s home is his castle= An Englishman’s home is a place where he feels safe, enjoys privacy and can do as he wishes.
71) An idle brain is the devil’s workshop. =When you are busy working, you avoid temptation.
72) An onion a day keeps everyone away.= A humoristic version of “an apple a day…”
73) An ounce of discretion is worth a pound of wit.= It is better to be cautious and discreet than to try to be funny.
74) An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.= It is easier to prevent something from happening than to repair the damage or cure the disease later.
75) Anger is the one thing made better by delay.= When you are angry, it is best not to speak or act immediately.
76) Any time means no time.= If the date of an event remains vague, it will never happen.
77) April showers bring May flowers.= Something bad or unpleasant today may bring good things in the future.
78) As you sow, so shall you reap.= You have to accept the consequences of your actions.
79) Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies.= There are subjects one would rather not discuss.
80) Bad news travels fast.= People tend to circulate bad news very quickly (accidents, illness, etc.).
81) (A) bad tree does not yield good apples.= A bad parent does not raise good children.
82) (A) bad workman blames his tools.= Blaming tools for bad workmanship is an excuse for lack of skill.
83) Beauty is only skin deep.= A person’s character is more important than their appearance.
84) Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.= Different people have different tastes.
85) Beauty is the wisdom of women.Wisdom is the beauty of men. Be swift to hear, slow to speak.= Listen carefully before speaking.
88) Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.= It is preferable to have something sure now than the possibility of something better later.
89) Better be alone than in bad company.= Be careful in the choice of the people you associate with.
90) Better be the head of a dog than the tail of a lion.= It’s better to be the leader of a small group than a subordinate in a bigger one.
91) Better flatter a fool than fight him.= It’s better to avoid disputes with stupid people.
92) Better to drink the milk than to eat the cow.= Be careful not to destroy the source of your income or welfare.
93) Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.= It’s better to deal with someone difficult but familiar than change and risk dealing with somebody worse.
94) Better late than never.= It’s better to do something, even if it’s late, than not do it at all.
95) Better lose the saddle than the horse.= It’s better to stop and accept a small loss than continue and risk losing everything.
96) Better safe than sorry.= It’s better to be too careful than to be careless and regret it later.
97) Better be untaught than ill-taught.= It’s better not to be taught at all than to be taught badly.
98) Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.= Don’t trust your enemies.
99) Beauty is only skin deep.= A person’s character is more important than their appearance.
100) Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.= Different people have different tastes.
101) Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.= It is preferable to have something sure now than the possibility of something better later.
103) Better be alone than in bad company.= Be careful in the choice of the people you associate with.
104) Better be the head of a dog than the tail of a lion.= It’s better to be the leader of a small group than a subordinate in a bigger one.
105) Better flatter a fool than fight him.= It’s better to avoid disputes with stupid people.
106) Better to drink the milk than to eat the cow.= Be careful not to destroy the source of your income or welfare.
107) Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.= It’s better to deal with someone difficult but familiar than change and risk dealing with somebody worse.