English Proverbs

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

  • Dead men don’t bite.
  • Sell not virtue to purchase wealth.
  • Those who hide, can find.
  • Save us from our friends.
  • No news is good news.
  • Stolen fruit is sweet.
  • He that seeks trouble never misses.
  • He laughs best who laughs last.
  • Something is better than nothing.
  • Soon ripe, soon rotten.
  • Better to war out than to rust out.
  • A miss is as good as a mile.
  • Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
  • By learning, you will teach; by teaching, you will learn.
  • The cowl does not make the monk.
  • Children should be seen and not heard.
  • Speak not of my debts unless you mean to pay them.
  • It is better to be born lucky than rich.
  • Like people, like priest.
  • The mother of mischief is no bigger than a midge’s wing.
  • Blessings brighten as they take their flight.
  • Life is just a bowl of cherries.
  • Second thoughts are best.
  • Fine words butter no parsnips.
  • A small family is soon provided for.
  • He gives twice who gives quickly.
  • A liar ought to have a good memory.
  • One man may steal a horse, while another may not look over a hedge.
  • Times change and we with time.
  • It is a poor dog that’s not worth whistling for.
  • Manners maketh man.
  • God made the country, and man made the town.
  • When the sword of rebellion is drawn, the sheath should be thrown away.
  • A fool at forty is a fool indeed.
  • He that cannot obey, cannot command.
  • In for a penny, in for a pound.
  • Quickly come, quickly go.
  • The child is the father of the man.
  • It is the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.
  • 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.
  • He who fights and runs away may live to fight another day.
  • Boys will be boys.
  • A fool and his money are soon parted.
  • Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.
  • An army marches on its stomach.
  • Fear the Greeks bearing gifts.
  • The end crowns the work.
  • Let them laugh that win.
  • Turkey, heresy, hops, and beer came into England all in one year.
  • There is no accounting for tastes.
  • Moderation in all things.
  • If the shoe fits, wear it.
  • Ask God for what man can give, and you may get it.
  • Wanton kittens make sober cats.
  • Beware the tyranny of the minority.
  • Do not throw pearls to swine.
  • Poverty is not a shame, but being ashamed of it is.
  • Appetite comes with eating.
  • If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen.
  • Fight fire with fire.
  • Providence is always on the side of the big battalions.
  • It takes two to tango.
  • You can drive out nature with a pitchfork, but she keeps on coming back.
  • Everybody loves a lord.
  • Honesty is the best policy.
  • Two of a trade never agree.
  • One does not wash one’s dirty linen in public.
  • The mob has many heads but no brains.
  • A door must be either shut or open.
  • There’s a black sheep in every flock.
  • History repeats itself.
  • Nothing so bold as a blind mare.
  • What you spend, you have.
  • If you run after two hares, you will catch neither.
  • Safe bind, safe find.
  • Ill weeds grow apace.
  • You buy land, you buy stones; you buy meat, you buy bones.
  • The devil looks after his own.
  • The best of friends must part.
  • If you’re born to be hanged, then you’ll never be drowned.
  • Young folks think old folks to be fools, but old folks know young folks to be fools.
  • Take heed you do not find what you do not seek.
  • The apple never falls far from the tree.
  • United we stand, divided we fall.
  • No pain, no gain.
  • Facts are stubborn things.
  • Go further and fare worse.
  • All things are possible with God.
  • The busiest men have the most leisure.
  • Stolen waters are sweet.
  • Time is the soul of business.
  • The half is better than the whole.
  • Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches.
  • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
  • Love me little, love me long.
  • Never tell tales out of school.
  • Come live with me and you’ll know me.
  • Marriages are made in heaven.
  • You can’t tell a book by its cover.
  • It is not spring until you can plant your foot upon twelve daisies.

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

3 thoughts on “English Proverbs

  1. Avatar
    Ken says:

    I can’t believe how familiar all of these proverbs and idioms are to me. It’s weird how many we all have floating around inside our heads, just from overhearing them.

  2. Avatar
    Kim says:

    I wonder how often new proverbs or idioms get added to a language. Like, what new sayings do we have in English that people in two hundred years will be using as life advice? I can’t think of anything…

    • Avatar
      Ryan says:

      Yeah, this would be really interesting to know, I get the feeling that it isn’t too often. Most proverbs seem to be at least a hundred years old.

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