A proverb is a short saying that gives advice or expresses truth. Keep reading for proverbs examples around the world and their meanings, and learn more about the values people share.
African Proverbs 👇🏾
- A roaring lion kills nothing.
Meaning: you won’t accomplish your goals by talking about them.
- Only a fool tests the depth of a river with both feet.
Meaning: consider the consequences before making a decision.
- It takes a whole village to raise a child.
Meaning: there is no such thing as too much help when it comes to looking after children.
- The best way to eat an elephant is to cut him up into pieces.
Meaning: you can solve a problem by handling it a little at a time.
- The word of friend makes you cry – the word of an enemy makes you laugh.
Meaning: A friend will tell you the truth, which sometimes hurts, but an enemy will only lead you down the wrong path by giving you advice that seems good but is not.
Arabic Proverbs 👇🏾
- An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.
Meaning: leadership is the most important factor in success.
- Excuses are worse than the original fault.
Meaning: making excuses for a mistake is worse than the mistake itself.
- Secrets are like birds; when they leave your hand, they take flight.
Meaning: you can’t control who knows a secret after you’ve told it to someone.
- Time is money.
Meaning: wasting time is wasting a valuable resource.
- What is learned in youth is carved in stone.
Meaning: childhood experiences affect a person forever.
Asian Proverbs 👇🏾
- A spark can start a fire that burns the entire prairie.
Meaning: a small problem can become a huge problem that can cause major damage.
- Complaining is the weak man’s weapon.
Meaning: strong people solve problems instead of complaining about them.
- Dig the well before you are thirsty.
Meaning: anticipate your needs before you need something.
- Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Meaning: teaching people is better in the long run because it gives them the skills to provide for themselves as opposed to you doing things for them.
- It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books.
Meaning: lived experience is more valuable than enjoying it secondhand.
Greek Proverbs 👇🏾
- A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.
Meaning: making positive steps now – ones that will impact future generations – is the best way to ensure the world becomes a better place.
- How you make your bed is how you are going to sleep.
Meaning: your actions have consequences that reflect on other parts of your life.
- It’s sweet to view the sea when standing on the shore.
Meaning: once a struggle has passed, you won’t look back at it and feel such pain. Bad times will end, and you will feel better.
- The camel does not see her own hump.
Meaning: don’t call out others’ faults when you have your own – it’s quite possible that you just can’t see them.
- Win by persuasion, not by force.
Meaning: gain something by rational discussion, by exercising your knowledge and wisdom, and taking the higher ground rather than overpowering your opponent.
Jewish Proverbs 👇🏾
- Ask about your neighbors before buying the house.
Meaning: don’t surround yourself with negative people.
- If you’re too sweet, you’ll be eaten up; if you’re too bitter, you’ll be spat out.
Meaning: don’t let others take advantage of you, and don’t take advantage of others.
- God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.
Meaning: mothers will protect their children, no matter what.
- The man who appreciates what he has is the richest man of all.
Meaning: when you are satisfied with your life, you are as happy as a rich man.
- You must endure the bad if you want to live to see the good.
Meaning: living through hardships is part of life.
Latin American Proverbs 👇🏾
- Both reputation and money are earned slowly and lost quickly.
Meaning: it takes a long time to build your reputation and earn money, but not very long to lose either.
- If you want to dance, pay the musician.
Meaning: if you want something to happen, make it happen.
- It is better to be by yourself than poorly accompanied.
Meaning: being with the wrong people is worse than being alone.
- Since we cannot get what we like, let us like what we can get.
Meaning: appreciate what you have, even if it’s not very much.
- The fruit is known by the tree.
Meaning: a child’s reputation is determined by their family’s reputation.
Russian Proverbs 👇🏾
- Better to stumble than make a slip of the tongue.
Meaning: saying something wrong can be more painful than taking a bad step.
- Don’t bring your rules to another person’s monastery.
Meaning: respect other people’s cultures.
- Don’t teach a wise person.
Meaning: don’t give advice to people who are more experienced that you are.
- One can’t have two deaths.
Meaning: take risks in life because you only die once, and it probably won’t be today.
- Work is not a wolf that runs away to the forest.
Meaning: you can finish your work anytime – it will still be here when you come back.