American Proverbs

Enjoy dozens of witty and insightful American proverbs and idioms that have been passed down from one generation to the next for hundreds of years!

  • Don’t cross the bridge until you come to it.
  • Could everything be done twice, it would be done better.
  • The poor man’s budget is full of schemes.
  • The secret of life is not to do what you like but to like what you do.
  • Any landing you can walk away from is a good one.
  • When pleasure interferes with business, give up business.
  • “One of these days” is none of these days.
  • A soft answer turneth away wrath.
  • Much meat, much disease.
  • From small beginnings come great things.
  • By bravely enduring it, an evil which cannot be avoided is overcome.
  • Riches have wings.
  • He who allows his day to pass by without practicing generosity and enjoying life’s pleasures is like a blacksmith’s bellows: he breathes, but does not live.
  • Beggars can never be bankrupt.
  • Love laughs at locksmiths.
  • Silent men, like still waters, are deep and dangerous.
  • Don’t change horses while crossing a stream.
  • Those that do you a very ill deed will never forgive you.
  • An eagle does not catch flies.
  • Luck is the idol of the idle.
  • A wreck on shore is a beacon at sea.
  • “Now” is the watchword of the wise.
  • The word that is heard perishes, but the letter that is written remains.
  • That which is escaped now is pain to come.
  • Pay beforehand if you would have your work poorly done.
  • In times of trouble, leniency becomes crime.
  • People blame themselves for the purpose of being praised.
  • What is a big shot except a little shot that kept on shooting.
  • A light heart lives long.
  • We come and cry and that is life; we cry and go and that is death.
  • Man does what he can; God does what He will.
  • Rebuke should have a grain more of salt than of sugar.
  • A mill cannot grind with water that is past.
  • Tell me who’s your friend and I’ll tell you who you are.
  • There is nothing certain but the uncertain.
  • Who wills the end, wills the means.
  • Don’t spur a willing horse.
  • Danger past, God forgotten.
  • You cannot be lost on a road that is straight.
  • Never perform card tricks for the people you play poker with.
  • Three things drive a man outdoors; smoke, a leaking roof, and a scolding wife.
  • Not the glittering weapon fights the fight, but rather the hero’s heart.
  • The wolf changes his coat but not his disposition.
  • Quick to borrow is always slow to pay.
  • Great is the victory that is gained without bloodshed.
  • No sheath shall hold what finds its home in flesh.
  • We pay when old for the excesses of youth.
  • Many can bear adversity, but few contempt.
  • Tell the truth and then run.
  • He loses his thanks who promises and delays.
  • Custom is a tyrant.
  • Better to be known as a sinner than a hypocrite.
  • Soon enough is well enough.
  • Simplicity is the seal of truth.
  • A reconciled friend is a double enemy.
  • Be slow in choosing a friend but slower in changing him.
  • He who pays the piper calls the tune.
  • Persuasion is better than force.
  • No one can pray well but those who live well.
  • The silent dog is the first to bite.
  • A Sunday well-spent brings a week of content.
  • There is no greater misfortune than to not be able to endure misfortune.
  • Curses are like chickens: they always come home.
  • One hour in the execution of justice is worth seventy years of prayer.
  • There are no greater promisers than those who have nothing to give.
  • Some who will not speak against another, in the end does them harm.
  • Something you don’t want is dear at any price.
  • If your time ain’t come, not even a doctor can kill you.
  • Be in general virtuous, and you will be happy.
  • Nobody has ever bet enough on a winning horse.
  • If men could see the epitaphs their friends write, they would believe they had gotten into the wrong grave.
  • Gifts dissolve rocks.
  • Out of debt, out of danger.
  • Choose your wife as you wish your children to be.
  • The most dangerous food to eat is a wedding cake.
  • Every cloud has a silver lining.
  • When poverty comes in the door, love flies out the window.
  • The darkest hour is just before the dawn.
  • The less people think, the more they talk.
  • He who lives by medical prescriptions lives miserably.
  • After all is said and done, more is said than done.
  • The only thing we learn from new elections is we learned nothing from the old.
  • Kings have many ears and eyes.
  • Gifts make their way through stone walls.
  • He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.
  • People who have little to do are excessive talkers.
  • Every convenience brings its own inconveniences along with it.
  • Patience, money, and time bring all things to past.
  • Better a living dog than a dead lion.
  • Young people talk of what they are doing; old people of what they have done; and fools of what they have a mind to do.
  • The one who wills is the one who can.
  • You can’t steal second base with your foot on first.
  • A mere friend will agree with you, but a real friend will argue.
  • Write down the advice of him who loves you, though you like it not at present.
  • Fooled once shame on you; fooled twice shame on me.
  • Never repeat old grievances.
  • Short judgments make long friends.
  • The longest day soon comes to an end.
  • A mother’s heart is always with her children.
  • Patience when teased is often transformed into rage.

For thousands more proverbs and words of wisdom, collected from over 40 countries, check out Proverbs from Around the World!

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