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 English Proverbs and Sayings  


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


 List I :  "an idle brain..."  →  "it takes all sorts.."   



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


  • (An) idle brain is the devil's workshop.
    • When you are busy working you avoid temptation.

  • In times of prosperity friends are plentiful.
    • You have many friends when you have no difficulties.

  • If a camel gets his nose in a tent, his body will follow.
    • If you let something intrusive enter your life, your life will become difficult.

  • If in February there be no rain, 'tis neither good for hay nor grain.
    • Plants and grains will grow badly if there is no rain in early spring.

  • If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will avoid 100 days of sorrow.
    • Avoid regrets by taking the time to think before speaking or acting angrily.

  • If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.
    • If you try to do two things at the same time, you will not succeed in doing either of them.

  • If two ride a horse, one must ride behind.
    • When two people do something together, one will be the leader and the other will be the subordinate.

  • If you want a friend, be a friend.
    • Friendship must be reciprocal.

  • If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.
    • If just wishing for something were enough to make it happen, then even the poorest of people would have everything they wanted. Wishing alone is not sufficient; you must act as well.

  • Ignorance is bliss.
    • What you do not know causes no worry or sadness. It is sometimes better not to know all the facts.

  • In for a penny, in for a pound.
    • If you start something, it is better to spend the time or money necessary to complete it.

  • In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.
    • A man of even limited ability has an advantage over a person who is less able.

  • It never rains but it pours.
    • Misfortune usually comes in large numbers.

  • It is always darkest before the dawn.
    • The most difficult time is just before the problem is solved.

  • It's no use crying over spilt milk.
    • Don't express regret for something that has happened and cannot be remedied.

  • It takes all sorts to make a world.
    • People vary in character and abilities, and this is a good thing.

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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.