Russian Proverbs

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

  • One cannot make a fur coat from thanks.
  • Work is afraid of a skilled worker.
  • A good merchant has neither money nor goods.
  • A bachelor is never sent as a go-between.
  • Beauty is the sister of idleness and the mother of luxury.
  • Friendship is friendship, but service is service.
  • A fool is not afraid to lose his mind.
  • The moon gives us light but no heat.
  • The naked don’t fear robbery.
  • Seven troubles, one response.
  • Abuse doesn’t hang on the collar.
  • When money speaks, the truth is silent.
  • If the fool ties a knot, even a clever person can’t untie it.
  • God wanted to punish mankind, so he created lawyers.
  • For a drunk, the sea is knee-deep.
  • A clever head, but given to foolishness.
  • Hypocrites kick with their hind feet while licking with their tongues.
  • Hope for God, but do not be reliant.
  • He who doesn’t risk never gets to drink champagne.
  • You don’t get a headache from what other people have drunk.
  • Eat what is cooked; listen to what is said.
  • Unless thunder strikes, a man won’t cross himself.
  • The horse may run quickly, but it can’t escape its own tail.
  • The wolf is not afraid of the sheepdog, but he is of his chain.
  • When he mounts his horse, he forgets God; when he dismounts, he forgets his horse.
  • You don’t milk a cow with your hands in your pockets.
  • Be fair to the devil.
  • Bad luck is fertile.
  • A toad too would like to crack nuts, but he has no teeth.
  • Death is not found behind mountains but right behind our shoulders.
  • If everyone gives one thread, the poor man will have a shirt.
  • Wisdom is born; stupidity is learned.
  • You can’t drive straight on a twisting lane.
  • You must chop down the tree that gives too much or too little shade.
  • Hunger is not your aunt.
  • The offender never forgives.
  • Where necessity speaks, it demands.
  • All lay loads on a willing horse.
  • Vodka is the aunt of wine.
  • Without the shepherd, sheep are not a flock.
  • If you don’t crack the shell, you can’t eat the nut.
  • Acknowledgment is half of correction.
  • It will snap where it’s thinnest.
  • Cut down the tree that you are able to.
  • Don’t have a friend who always agrees with you, but have a friend who argues with you.
  • The wolf will hire himself out very cheaply as a shepherd.
  • When you live next to the cemetery, you cannot weep for everyone.
  • If the claw is stuck, the whole bird is lost.
  • If you are a host to your guest, be a host to his dog also.
  • On an empty belly, every burden is heavy.
  • Envy sees the sea but not the rocks.
  • Paper will endure anything.
  • All ages are submissive to love.
  • Not everything is a mermaid that dives into the water.
  • Simplicity is worse than thievery.
  • The noblemen’s quarrels can be read on the backs of the peasants.
  • Another city, another temper.
  • Don’t buy the house; buy the neighborhood.
  • The agreement costs more than money.
  • The wolves are sated, and the sheep are intact.
  • Don’t wade into a river without knowing a ford.
  • If God sends you meal, the devil takes the sack.
  • He can cheat a fish of its skin.
  • If you don’t have a hundred rubles, make sure you have a hundred friends.
  • Sorrow doesn’t kill, but it blights.
  • Morning is wiser than the evening.
  • No one is dragged to heaven by the hair.
  • Every vegetable has its time.
  • Words are silver; silence is gold.
  • Only chained bears dance.
  • It is easier to fill twenty bellies than one pair of eyes.
  • In the lake of lies, there are many dead fish.
  • On the tongue, there’s honey; and on the heart, there’s ice.
  • Time makes the best healer.
  • You’ll learn from those you hang out with.
  • Poverty is not a sin—it’s worse than that.
  • It is unpleasant to go alone, even to be drowned.
  • If you rush things, you’ll only make others laugh.
  • He who offers his back should not complain if it is beaten.
  • What you go looking for, you will find.
  • For a big ship, a big voyage.
  • Who wants heat must endure the smoke.
  • One good daughter is worth seven sons.
  • Those who love you will make you weep; those who hate you will make you laugh.
  • Haste is good only for catching flies.
  • It is better to be a cripple than always sitting down.
  • Partnership is an invention of the devil.
  • He took the devil’s mat, but he’ll pay it back with his skin.
  • Men will not be fortunate without a helping hand from misfortune.
  • Jesus Christ was crucified by public opinion.
  • When death is there, dying is over.
  • Whoever wants honey must breed bees.
  • Tell God the truth, but give money to the judge.
  • Who lives in exile finds that spring has no charm.
  • God keeps those safe who keep themselves safe.
  • If rubles fell from heaven, the poor would have no bag.
  • The calmer you go, the further along you will be.
  • Fear the law, not the judge.
  • The peasant will not cross himself before it begins to thunder.
  • There are no friends in tastes and colors.

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

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