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 English Proverbs and Sayings 


Alphabetical lists of commonly-used proverbs and sayings in English.


 List A1:    "a bad excuse..." →  "a hungry wolf..."   



Proverbs and sayings are short statements of wisdom or advice that are transmitted from generation to generation and have passed into general use.


  • A bad excuse is better than none.
    • Always give an excuse when necessary, even if it's a poor one.

  • A bad penny always turns up.
    • An unwanted or disreputable person constantly comes back.

  • A bad tree does not yield good apples.
    • A bad parent does not raise good children.

  • A bad workman blames his tools.
    • Blaming the tools for bad workmanship is an excuse for lack of skill.

  • A barking dog seldom bites.
    • Someone who constantly makes threats rarely carries them out.

  • 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.

  • A black plum is as sweet as a white.
    • People should not be judged by their appearance.

  • A book holds a house of gold.
    • There is a wealth of knowledge in books.

  • 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.

  • A burden of one's own choice is not felt.
    • Something difficult seems easier when it is done voluntarily.

  • A burnt child dreads the fire.
    • A bad experience will make people stay away from certain things..

  • A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor.
    • A person shows their competence or ability when difficulties arise.

  • 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.

  • A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.
    • The strength of a group depends on each individual member.

  • A change is as good as a rest.
    • A change in routine is often as refreshing as a break or a holiday.

  • A constant guest is never welcome.
    • If you come to visit too often, your host will be less pleased to see you.

  • A danger foreseen is half avoided.
    • If you are prepared to face a problem or difficulty, it will be easier to deal with.



  • A day of sorrow is longer than a month of joy.
    • Times goes by very quickly when you are happy and very slowly when you are sad.

  • A drop of ink may make a million think.
    • A thought expressed in writing (perhaps published in a newspaper) can influence a large number of people.

  • 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.

  • A fault confessed is half redressed.
    • A fault confessed is half redressed.

  • A flower blooms more than once.
    • If you miss an occasion, you can avail yourself of it another time.

  • A fly will not get into a closed mouth.
    A closed mouth catches no flies.
    • If you learn when to keep silent you will avoid trouble.

  • A fool and his money are (soon) easily parted.
    • A foolish person usually spends money carelessly.

  • A fool at forty is a fool forever.
    • If a person hasn't matured by the age of 40, they never will.

  • A friend in need is a friend indeed.
    • Someone who helps you when you are in trouble is a real friend.

  • A friend to all is a friend to none.
    • Someone who is a friend to everyone makes none of them feel special.

  • A friend's eye is a good mirror.
    • A real friend will tell you the truth.

  • A good beginning makes a good end.
    • If a task is carefully planned, there's a better chance that it will be well done.

  • A good conscience is a soft pillow.
    • You sleep well when you have nothing to be guilty about.

  • A good example is the best sermon.
    • Giving a good example is better than giving advice.

  • A good mind possesses a kingdom.
    • Intellectual assets are more valuable than material ones.

  • A good name is better than a good face.
    • A good reputation is better than a good appearance.

  • A growing youth has a wolf in his belly.
    • Young boys eat a lot / are often hungry.

  • 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.

  • A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.
    • Patience is more precious than intelligence.

  • A happy heart is better than a full purse.
    • Happiness is better than wealth.

  • A heavy purse gives to a light heart.
    • When you have money you feel more cheerful and secure.

  • A hedge between keeps friendship green.
    • It is important to respect the privacy of others.

  • A hungry belly has no ears.
    • A hungry person is totally concentrated on their need for food and nothing else interests them.

  • A hungry wolf is fixed to no place.
    • A desperate person will go from place to place when they need to satisfy their needs.

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