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 English Proverbs and Sayings  


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


 List B :  "bad beginnings... →  a burnt child dreads the fire  



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


  • Bad beginnings lead to bad results.
    • If you start something badly the result will be unsatisfactory.

  • (A) bad cause requires many words.
    • It is difficult to defend a bad cause.

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

  • Bad news travels fast.
    • People tend to circulate bad news very quickly (accidents, illness, etc.).

  • (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 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.

  • Be just before you are generous.
    • Make sure all your debts are paid before you start offering help to others.

  • Beauty is only skin deep.
    • A person's character is more important than their appearance.

  • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
    • Different people have different tastes.

  • Beauty is the wisdom of women. Wisdom is the beauty of men.
    • No comment!

  • Be swift to hear, slow to speak.
    • Listen carefully before speaking.

  • (The) best advice is found on the pillow.
    • A good night's sleep may help us find an answer to our problem.

  • (The) best helping hand is at the end of your sleeve.
    • The best way to get something done is to do it yourself.

  • (The) best things in life are free.
    • You don't have to pay for what is important: happiness, friendship, good health.

  • Better brain than brawn.  
    • It's better to have a brain than muscles.



  • Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.
    • It is preferable to have something sure now than the possibility of something better later.

  • Better be alone than in bad company.
    • Be careful in the choice of the people you associate with.

  • 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.

  • Better flatter a fool than fight him.
    • It's better to avoid disputes with stupid people.

  • Better to drink the milk than to eat the cow.
    • Be careful not to destroy the source of your income or welfare.

  • 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.

  • Better late than never.
    • It's better to do something, even if it's late, than not do it at all.

  • Better lose the saddle than the horse.
    • It's better to stop and accept a small loss than continue and risk losing everything.

  • Better safe than sorry.
    • It's better to be too careful than to be careless and regret it later.

  • Better be untaught than ill-taught.
    • It's better not to be taught at all than to be taught badly.

  • Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
    • Don't trust your enemies.

  • (A) bird in hand is worth two in a bush.
    • It's better to keep what you have than to risk losing it by searching for something else.

  • Birds of a feather flock together.
    • People of the same sort are usually found together.

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

  • Blood is thicker than water.
    • Family relationships are stronger than relationships with other people.

  • Blood will out.
    • A person's background or education will eventually show.

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

  • (A) broken friendship may be soldered but it 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.

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