Table of Contents
- What are proverbs?
- Difference between proverbs and idioms
- 20 most common proverbs in English!
- 1. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence
- 2. Don’t judge a book by its cover
- 3. Better late than never
- 4. Rome wasn’t built in a day
- 5. Still waters run deep
- 6. Curiosity killed the cat
- 7. Out of sight, out of mind
- 8. Easy come, easy go
- 9. The forbidden fruit is always the sweetest
- 10. Tip of the iceberg
- 11. Learn to walk before you run
- 12. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
- 13. Better to be safe than sorry
- 14. The early bird catches the worm
- 15. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill
- 16. Always put your best foot forward
- 17. Honesty is the best policy
- 18. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you
- 19. My hands are tied
- 20. First things first
- Key takeaways:
An expression of life, proverbs in English are statements that aim to motivate, inspire and give advice on the dos and don’ts humankind must adhere to in order to experience positive outcomes. These sayings represent the truth of life and the different perspectives and ideologies that individuals hold. So, in this article, we have curated a list of some of the most popular proverbs for you to keep in mind every step of the way.
What are proverbs?
Before we get to the exciting bit of the article, it is important to clear our concepts. So, what exactly are proverbs? A short, crisp yet intuitive saying that finds its roots in the traditions it emerges from, a proverb is ingrained with wisdom, values, morals, and traditional perspectives. The phrases are essentially truths perceived through personal experiences or common sensibilities. Proverbs are an ensemble within the folklore genre and are often figurative and non-literal verbal expressions.
Difference between proverbs and idioms
Proverbs in English are well-known sayings to impart advice on life or are commonly considered true. In contrast, idioms are phrases fabricated by weaving individual words together but cannot be comprehended by the literal meaning of those words.
Still confused? Let us help you understand it better.
Much like idioms, proverbs also have an inner message that is not evident via individual words. However, unlike idioms where those individual words don’t make sense at all and are not deducible without prior context, proverbs make sense literally. Still, the true intent and the message it wants to communicate are not the same as its literal meaning.
Idiom – On the same page
Have you ever been left confused by someone telling you, “We’re on the same page”? With a thousand questions running in your mind, with the primary focus being- “are we talking about humans or a book?” it is quite understandable to be frazzled if you don’t already know what the phrase means.
Meaning – ‘On the same page’ actually means to be in agreement with one another.
Proverb – An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Since elementary school, how often have we been taught that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. The cautionary proverb is a catchphrase that holds your attention all while sending its intended advice without using words that would otherwise immediately sound intimidating.
Meaning – The phrase means, ‘Eat healthy to stay healthy’.
20 most common proverbs in English!
1. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence
This proverb in English means that no matter where we are placed in life, we always compare it to the circumstances someone else is in and degrade our accomplishments while praising the life they lead.
2. Don’t judge a book by its cover
It is very easy for us to judge someone based on their outward appearance without truly knowing their story. The proverb advises us not to form such an opinion based on external characteristics.
3. Better late than never
Even if your goals are delayed, it is better to take the necessary steps at some point in time rather than not do it at all.
4. Rome wasn’t built in a day
It takes time to achieve great things. Great legacies aren’t built overnight.
5. Still waters run deep
It is said that a person who is generally timid and quiet has a deep underlying personality that is not evident to the world outside.
6. Curiosity killed the cat
It is better not to interfere in things that don’t concern you, for you could unintentionally call for danger upon yourself.
7. Out of sight, out of mind
You tend to forget about things that you don’t hear of or see for a period of time.
8. Easy come, easy go
The saying indicates that money goes as quickly as earned when spent on futile things. The proverb advises you to be judicious with your finances.
9. The forbidden fruit is always the sweetest
The things that we should keep away from are the most desirable to us.
10. Tip of the iceberg
The statement describes a situation where only a tiny part of a larger picture is visible to outsiders.
11. Learn to walk before you run
Before you proceed onto the segments that require more details and expertise, get your foundation and base concept right first.
12. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Don’t over promise and under deliver. It is always advisable to take up responsibility for only the work you know you can handle at one time.
13. Better to be safe than sorry
It is better to exercise caution from the very beginning than face the unwanted consequences and potential dangers.
14. The early bird catches the worm
Those who make an effort to wake up early and start their day in a productive manner instead of letting lethargy take over are the ones who succeed in life.
15. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill
Don’t exaggerate minor problems and turn them into massive ones when they are actually pretty insignificant and minor.
16. Always put your best foot forward
Always be the best version of yourself and make the best impression on those around you with your attributes.
17. Honesty is the best policy
It is said that a lie can never be covered up; it will be revealed at some point, so it is better, to be honest about things. Lies increase the chances of risk and danger, whereas being honest with people can help you out of unfavorable situations.
18. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you
Don’t betray and ill-treat a person you depend on to take care of you in some possible way.
19. My hands are tied
This means that the person cannot be of assistance in a situation where you might need their help.
20. First things first
This proverb advises you to set your priorities right and work on the things that hold more importance at a given point than the rest of your tasks.
- Idioms and proverbs are not the same.
- Proverbs are short-life advice containing wisdom and the truth of life.
- Proverbs are based on common sense or perceived truth.
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Q1. Are proverbs metaphors?
Answer- Proverbs are verbally expressed by employing metaphorical and formulaic language.
Q2. Under which literary segment do proverbs fall?
Answer- The origination of proverbs can be traced back to folk literature, having its roots deep in fables and stories that were verbally narrated and passed down.
Q3. Do proverbs play an important role in literature?
Answer- Proverbs play a significant role in English literature since the primary goal is to educate and advise the mass. It aims to give the readers an insight into the consequences their actions could bring about. Authors use proverbs to enhance the intent and meaning behind their portrayal of certain situations and send their readers a clear word of advice.