Proverbs, Axioms, Aphorisms Maxims, Adages and their Meaning

 A bad penny always turns up.

A barking dog never bites

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

A cat may look at a king.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

A change is as good as a rest.

A dog is a man’s best friend.

A drowning man will clutch at a straw.

A fish always rots from the head down.

A fool and his money are soon parted.

A friend in need is a friend indeed.

A golden key can open any door.

A good beginning makes a good ending

A good man is hard to find.

A house divided against itself cannot stand

A house is not a home

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

A leopard cannot change its spots.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

A little learning is a dangerous thing.

A little of what you fancy does you good.

A man is known by his friends

A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client.

A miss is as good as a mile.

A new broom sweeps clean

A nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse.

A penny saved is a penny earned.

A person is known by the company he keeps

A picture paints a thousand words.

A place for everything and everything in its place.

A poor workman always blames his tools

A problem shared is a problem halved.

A prophet is not recognized in his own land

A rising tide lifts all boats

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

A soft answer turneth away wrath

A stitch in time saves nine.

A swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

A time and a place for everything – There’s

A trouble shared is a trouble halved

A volunteer is worth twenty pressed men

A watched pot never boils.

A woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke

A woman’s place is in the home.

A woman’s work is never done

A word to the wise is enough

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Accidents will happen (in the best-regulated families).

Actions speak louder than words.

Adversity makes strange bedfellows.

After a storm comes a calm

Age of miracles is past – The

Ain’t over till the fat lady sings – It

All good things come to he who waits.

All good things must come to an end

All is grist that comes to the mill.

All publicity is good publicity.

All roads lead to Rome

All that glisters is not gold.

All that glitters is not gold

All the world loves a lover

All things come to those that wait.

All things must pass.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

All you need is love

All’s fair in love and war.

All’s for the best in the best of all possible worlds

All’s well that ends well.

A miss is as good as a mile.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

An army marches on its stomach

An Englishman’s home is his castle.

An exception to every rule – There’s

Always more fish in the sea – There’s

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth

An ill wind that blows no one any good – It’s

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Another day, another dollar.

Any port in a storm.

Appearances can be deceptive

Apple a day keeps the doctor away – An

Apple never falls far from the tree – The

April is the cruellest month

April showers bring forth May flowers

Army marches on its stomach – An

As thick as thieves.

As you make your bed, so you must lie upon it

As you sow so shall you reap.

Ashes to ashes dust to dust.

Ask a silly question and you’ll get a silly answer.

Ask no questions and hear no lies

Attack is the best form of defence.

Bad money drives out good.

Bad news travels fast.

Bad penny always turns up – A

Barking dog never bites – A

Be careful what you wish for

Beat swords into ploughshares.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Beauty is only skin deep.

Beggars should not be choosers.

Behind every great man there’s a great woman.

Best defence is a good offence – The

Best is the enemy of the good – The

Best-laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley – The

Best things in life are free – The

Better late than never.

Better safe than sorry

Better the Devil you know than the Devil you don’t

Best to be on the safe side – It’s

Better to give than to receive – It’s

Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all – It’s

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness – It’s

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool that to speak and remove all doubt

Better to travel hopefully than to arrive – It’s

Between two stools one falls to the ground.

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

Beware the Ides of March.

Big fish eat little fish

Big fleas have little fleas upon their back to bite ’em.

Bigger, the better – The

Bigger they are, the harder they fall – The

Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush – A

Birds of a feather flock together.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Blood is thicker than water.

Blue are the hills that are far away

Bottom line is the bottom line – The

Boy is father to the man – The

Boys will be boys.

Bread always falls buttered side down.

Brevity is the soul of wit.

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.

Business before pleasure

Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion

Carpe diem (Pluck the day; Seize the day)

Cat may look at a king – A

Chain is only as strong as its weakest link – A

Change is as good as a rest – A

Charity begins at home.

Charity covers a multitude of sins

Cheaters never win and winners never cheat

Cheats never prosper

Child is father to the man – The

Children and fools tell the truth

Children should be seen and not heard.

Christmas comes but once a year

Cleanliness is next to godliness.

Clothes maketh the man

Cobbler always wears the worst shoes – The

Cold hands, warm heart

Comparisons are odious.

Count your blessings

Course of true love never did run smooth – The

Cowards may die many times before their death

Crime doesn’t pay.

Curiosity killed the cat

Customer is always right – The

Cut your coat to suit your cloth

Darkest hour is just before the dawn – The

Dead men tell no tales

Devil is in the details – The

Devil looks after his own – The

Devil makes work for idle hands to do – The

Devil take the hindmost – The

Different strokes for different folks.

Discretion is the better part of valour.

Distance lends enchantment to the view

Do as I say, not as I do

Do as you would be done by.

Do unto others as you would have them do to you.

Dog is a man’s best friend – A

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you

Don’t burn your bridges behind you

Don’t cast your pearls before swine.

Don’t change horses in midstream.

Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.

Don’t cross the bridge till you come to it

Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

Don’t get mad, get even.

Don’t keep a dog and bark yourself.

Don’t leave your manners on the doorstep

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Don’t let the cat out of the bag.

Don’t let the grass grow under your feet.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Don’t meet troubles half-way

Don’t mix business with pleasure

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Don’t put the cart before the horse.

Don’t put new wine into old bottles

Don’t rock the boat

Don’t shoot the messenger

Don’t spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar

Don’t shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Don’t throw pearls to swine

Don’t teach your Grandma to suck eggs.

Don’t throw good money after bad.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Don’t trust anyone over thirty

Don’t try to run before you can walk

Don’t try to walk before you can crawl

Don’t upset the apple-cart.

Don’t wash your dirty linen in public.

Doubt is the beginning not the end of wisdom

Drowning man will clutch at a straw – A

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Each to their own

Early bird catches the worm – The

East is east, and west is west

East, west, home’s best.

Easy come, easy go

Easy to be wise after the event – It’s

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Empty vessels make the most noise

End justifies the means – The

English are a nation of shopkeepers – The

Englishman’s home is his castle – An

Enough is as good as a feast.

Enough is enough.

Even a worm will turn.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Every dog has its day.

Every little helps

Every man for himself, and the Devil take the hindmost

Every man has his price.

Every picture tells a story

Every stick has two ends

Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die

Everything comes to him who waits

Exception which proves the rule – The

Eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth – An

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Faint heart never won fair lady

Fair exchange is no robbery.

Faith will move mountains.

Familiarity breeds contempt

Fat is in the fire – The

Feed a cold and starve a fever

Female of the species is more deadly than the male – The

Fight fire with fire.

Fight the good fight.

Finders keepers, losers weepers

Fine words butter no parsnips.

Fire is a good servant but a bad master

First come, first served

First impressions are the most lasting

First things first

Fish always stink from the head down.

Fish and guests smell after three days

Flattery will get you nowhere

Fool and his money are soon parted – A

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

For everything there is a season.

For want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the man was lost

Forewarned is forearmed.

Forgive and forget

Fortune favours the brave

Friend in need is a friend indeed – A

From the sublime to the ridiculous is only one step

Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.

Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day…

Give a dog a bad name and hang him

Give a man enough rope and he will hang himself

Give credit where credit is due

Give the Devil his due.

Go the extra mile

God helps those who help themselves

Goes without saying – It

Golden key can open any door – A

Good beginning makes a good ending – A

Good die young – The

Good fences make good neighbours.

Good man is hard to find – A

Good talk saves the food

Good things come in small packages

Good things come to those that wait.

Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence – The

Great minds think alike.

Great oaks from little acorns grow.

Half a loaf is better than no bread.

Hand that rocks the cradle rules the world – The

Handsome is as handsome does

Hard cases make bad law.

Hard work never did anyone any harm

Haste makes waste.

He that goes a-borrowing, goes a-sorrowing

He who can does, he who cannot, teaches.

He who fights and runs away, may live to fight another day

He who hesitates is lost

He who laughs last laughs longest.

He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword

He who pays the piper calls the tune

He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.

Hear all, see all, say nowt, tak’ all, keep all, gie nowt, and if tha ever does owt for nowt do it for thysen

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Hindsight is always twenty-twenty

History repeats itself

Hold with the hare and run with the hounds – You can’t

Home is where the heart is.

Honesty is the best policy.

Honey catches more flies than vinegar.

Honour among thieves – There’s

Hope springs eternal

Horses for courses

House divided against itself cannot stand – A

House is not a home – A

Husband is always the last to know – The

If anything can go wrong, it will

If a job is worth doing it is worth doing well

If at first you don’t succeed try, try and try again

If God had meant us to fly he’d have given us wings

If ifs and ands were pots and pans there’d be no work for tinkers

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

If life deals you lemons, make lemonade

If the cap fits, wear it.

If the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, then Mohammed must go to the mountain.

If the shoe fits, wear it.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

If you build it they will come

If you can’t be good, be careful

If you can’t beat em, join em

If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.

If you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys

If you want a thing done well, do it yourself

Ignorance is bliss

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

In for a penny, in for a pound

In the kingdom of the blind the one eyed man is king

In the midst of life we are in death

Into every life a little rain must fall

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings

It goes without saying

It never rains but it pours.

It takes a thief to catch a thief

It takes all sorts to make a world

It takes one to know one

It takes two to tango

It’s all grist to the mill.

It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good.

It’s best to be on the safe side

It’s better to give than to receive.

It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

It’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

It’s better to travel hopefully than to arrive.

It’s easy to be wise after the event

It’s never too late

It’s no use crying over spilt milk

It’s no use shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

It’s the early bird that catches the worm.

It’s the empty can that makes the most noise

It’s the singer not the song

It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease

Jack of all trades, master of none.

Jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.

Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step – A

Judge not, that ye be not judged

Keep your chin up.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

Keep your powder dry.

Know which side your bread is buttered.

Labourer is worthy of his hire – The

Laugh and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone

Laughter is the best medicine

Law is an ass – The

Least said, soonest mended

Leopard cannot change its spots – A

Less is more.

Let bygones be bygones.

Let not the sun go down on your wrath.

Let sleeping dogs lie

Let the buyer beware.

Let the dead bury the dead

Let the punishment fit the crime

Let well alone

Life begins at forty.

Life is just a bowl of cherries

Life is what you make it

Life’s not all beer and skittles.

Lightning never strikes twice in the same place

Like father, like son

Little knowledge is a dangerous thing – A

Little learning is a dangerous thing – A

Little of what you fancy does you good – A

Little pitchers have big ears.

Little strokes fell great oaks

Little things please little minds

Live and learn

Live and let live

Live for today for tomorrow never comes

Longest journey starts with a single step – The

Look before you leap.

Love of money is the root of all evil.

Love is blind.

Love makes the world go round

Love thy neighbour as thyself.

Love will find a way

Make hay while the sun shines.

Make haste slowly

Make love not war

Man does not live by bread alone.

Man is known by his friends – A

Man who is his own lawyer has a fool for his client – A

Manners maketh man

Many a good tune played on an old fiddle – There’s

Many a little makes a mickle.

Many a mickle makes a muckle

Many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip – There’s

Many a true word is spoken in jest.

Many are called but few are chosen.

Many hands make light work

March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb

March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers

Marriages are made in heaven

Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

Might is right

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

Misery loves company

Miss is as good as a mile – A

Moderation in all things

Monday’s child is fair of face

Money doesn’t grow on trees

Money is the root of all evil.

Money isn’t everything

Money makes the world go round

Money talks

More haste, less speed.

More the merrier – The

More things change, the more they stay the same – The

More ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream – There are

Music has charms to soothe the savage breast.

Nature abhors a vacuum

Necessity is the mother of invention.

Needs must when the devil drives.

Ne’er cast a clout till May be out.

Never give a sucker an even break.

Never go to bed on an argument

Never judge a book by its cover

Never let the sun go down on your anger

Never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today

Never rains but it pours – It

Never speak ill of the dead

Never tell tales out of school

Never too late – It’s

New broom sweeps clean – A

Nine tailors make a man

No accounting for tastes – There’s

No fool like an old fool – There’s

No man can serve two masters

No man is an island.

No names, no pack-drill.

No news is good news

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent

No pain, no gain

No place like home – There’s

No rest for the wicked.

No smoke without fire – There’s

No such thing as a free lunch – There’s

No such thing as bad publicity – There’s

No time like the present – There’s

No use crying over spilt milk – It’s

Nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse – A

None so blind as those who will not see – There’s

None so deaf as those who will not hear – There’s

Nothing new under the sun

Nothing is certain but death and taxes.

Nothing succeeds like success.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Oil and water don’t mix

Old soldiers never die, they simply fade away..

Once a thief, always a thief

Once bitten, twice shy.

One good turn deserves another.

One half of the world does not know how the other half lives

One hand washes the other.

One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

One might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb

One law for the rich and another law for the poor.

One swallow does not make a summer.

One volunteer is worth ten pressed men

One year’s seeding makes seven years weeding

Only fools and horses work

Opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings – The

Opportunity never knocks twice at any man’s door

Opposites attract

Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – An

Out of sight, out of mind.

Out of the frying pan into the fire.

Paddle your own canoe

Parsley seed goes nine times to the Devil

Patience is a virtue

Pearls of wisdom

Pen is mightier than sword – The

Penny saved is a penny earned – A

Penny wise and pound foolish

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones

Person is known by the company he keeps – A

Physician, heal thyself.

Picture paints a thousand words – A

Place for everything and everything in its place – A

Poor workman always blames his tools – A

Possession is nine points of the law

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Practice makes perfect

Practice what you preach

Prevention is better than cure

Price of liberty is eternal vigilance – The

Pride comes before a fall.

Procrastination is the thief of time.

Problem shared is a problem halved – A

Proof of the pudding is in the eating – The

Prophet is not recognized in his own land – A

Put the cart before the horse.

Put your best foot forward.

Put your best foot forward.

Put your shoulder to the wheel.

Quid pro quo.

Rain before seven, fine before eleven

Red sky at night shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Revenge is sweet

Rising tide lifts all boats – A

Road to hell is paved with good intentions – The

Rob Peter to pay Paul.

Rolling stone gathers no moss – A

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

See a pin and pick it up, all the day you’ll have good luck; see a pin and let it lie, bad luck you’ll have all day.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

Seeing is believing

Seek and you shall find.

Set a thief to catch a thief

Share and share alike.

Shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot – The

Shrouds have no pockets

Silence is golden.

Slow but sure

Soft answer turneth away wrath – A

Softly, softly, catchee monkey

Spare the rod and spoil the child.

Speak as you find

Speak softly and carry a big stick.

Squeaky wheel gets the grease – The

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Still waters run deep

Stitch in time saves nine – A

Strike while the iron is hot.

Stupid is as stupid does

Success has many fathers, while failure is an orphan

Take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.

Takes a thief to catch a thief – It

Takes all sorts to make a world – It

Takes one to know one – It

Talk is cheap

Talk of the Devil, and he is bound to appear.

Tell the truth and shame the Devil.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger

The age of miracles is past

The apple never falls far from the tree.

The best defense is a good offence.

The best is the enemy of the good

The best-laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley.

The best things in life are free

The bigger, the better

The bigger they are, the harder they fall

The bottom line is the bottom line

The boy is father to the man

The bread always falls buttered side down

The child is father to the man.

The cobbler always wears the worst shoes.

The course of true love never did run smooth.

The customer is always right.

The darkest hour is just before the dawn.

The Devil has all the best tunes.

The Devil is in the details.

The Devil looks after his own

The Devil makes work for idle hands to do.

The Devil take the hindmost.

The early bird catches the worm

The empty can that makes the most noise – It’s

The end justifies the means

The English are a nation of shopkeepers.

The exception which proves the rule.

The fat is in the fire.

The female of the species is more deadly than the male

The good die young

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

The husband is always the last to know

The labourer is worthy of his hire

The law is an ass.

The leopard does not change his spots.

The longest journey starts with a single step.

The more the merrier.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

The opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

The pen is mightier than sword.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance

The proof of the pudding is in the eating

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The shoemaker’s son always goes barefoot.

The singer not the song – It’s

The squeaky wheel that gets the grease – It’s

The truth will out.

The wages of sin is death.

The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach

The whole is greater than the sum of the parts

There are more ways of killing a cat than choking it with cream.

There are none so blind as those, that will not see

There are two sides to every question

There but for the grace of God, go I.

There’s a time and a place for everything.

There’s an exception to every rule.

There’s always more fish in the sea

There’s honour among thieves

There’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle

There’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip

There’s more than one way to skin a cat.

There’s no accounting for tastes

There’s no fool like an old fool.

There’s no place like home.

There’s no smoke without fire

There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

There’s no time like the present

There’s none so blind as those who will not see

There’s none so deaf as those who will not hear

There’s nowt so queer as folk

There’s one born every minute.

There’s one law for the rich and another law for the poor.

There’s safety in numbers

They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind

Thing of beauty is a joy forever – A

Third time lucky.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it

Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones

Those who sleep with dogs will rise with fleas

Trouble shared is a trouble halved – A

Thou shalt not kill.

Time and tide wait for no man.

Time flies

Time is a great healer

Time is money

Time will tell

’tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

To err is human; to forgive divine.

To every thing there is a season

To the victor go the spoils

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.

Tomorrow is another day.

Tomorrow never comes

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Truth will out.

Two blacks don’t make a white

Two heads are better than one.

Two is company, but three’s a crowd

Two sides to every question – There are

Two wrongs don’t make a right

Variety is the spice of life

Virtue is its own reward

Volunteer is worth twenty pressed men – A

Wages of sin is death – The

Walls have ears

Walnuts and pears you plant for your heirs.

Waste not want not

Watched pot never boils – A

Way to a man’s heart is through his stomach – The

What can’t be cured must be endured

What goes up must come down

What you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts

What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

When the cat’s away the mice will play

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

When the oak is before the ash, then you will only get a splash; when the ash is before the oak, then you may expect a soak

What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over

Where there’s a will there’s a way

Where there’s muck there’s brass.

Wherever you wander, there’s no place like home.

While there’s life there’s hope

Whole is greater than the sum of the parts – The

Whom the Gods love die young

Why keep a dog and bark yourself?.

Woman is only a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke – A

Woman’s place is in the home – A

Woman’s work is never done

Women and children first.

Wonders will never cease

Word to the wise is enough – A

Work expands so as to fill the time available

Worrying never did anyone any good

You are never too old to learn

You are what you eat.

You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family

You can have too much of a good thing

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too

You can’t get blood out of a stone.

You can’t get blood out of a turnip.

You can’t hold with the hare and run with the hounds.

You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

You can’t make bricks without straw

You can’t run with the hare and hunt with the hounds.

You can’t take it with you [when you die]

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

You can’t judge a book by its cover

You can’t win them all

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar

You pays your money and you takes your choice

You reap what you sow

You win some, you lose some

Youth is wasted on the young

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