German Proverbs

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

  • To call war the soil of courage and virtue is like calling debauchery the soil of love.
  • A country can be judged by the quality of its proverbs.
  • Constant dripping wears away the stone.
  • Rest breeds rust.
  • A clear conscience is a soft pillow.
  • Envy eats nothing but its own heart.
  • Nobody is too old to learn.
  • Being alone is not even good in paradise.
  • Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.
  • It is better to trust the eyes rather than the ears.
  • Work is our business; its success is God’s.
  • The apple doesn’t fall far from the trunk.
  • Who laughs last, laughs the best.
  • When fortune knocks, open the door.
  • One must either be the hammer or the anvil.
  • Through injury you become clever.
  • In the morning of life, work; in the midday, give council; in the evening, pray.
  • Clothes make people.
  • Don’t back just one horse.
  • Practice makes a champion.
  • Mules are always boasting that their ancestors were horses.
  • Those that rule must hear and be deaf, must see and be blind.
  • Still waters run deep.
  • Office without pay makes thieves.
  • The worst behaved students turn out to be the most pious preachers.
  • In bad fortune, hold out; in good, hold in.
  • One hand washes the other.
  • The morning hour has gold in its mouth.
  • Too aim is not enough, you must hit!
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  • Liberty is God’s gift, liberties the Devil’s.
  • If you give the devil your little finger, he’ll take the whole hand.
  • The covetous man is good to none and worst to himself.
  • No answer is also an answer.
  • All that glitters is not gold.
  • Buying is cheaper than asking.
  • The end justifies the means.
  • Whoever says A, must also say B.
  • A man trying to sell a blind horse always praises its feet.
  • You realize who your friends are in an emergency.
  • The wise person has long ears and a short tongue.
  • Fair flowers are not left standing along the wayside long.
  • The greatest step is out the door.
  • Never give advice unless asked.
  • Who has never tasted what is bitter does not know what is sweet.
  • The cleverer one gives in.
  • The first step is the hardest.
  • Work alone will not make you happy.
  • Revenge converts a little right into a great wrong.
  • One does evil enough when one does nothing good.

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

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