Dad’s Many Proverbs

By No tags Permalink

These proverbs were collected by my father, Carlos Hudson, during the time he was jailed under the Smith Act in 1941, ostensibly for “Advocating the overthrow of the government by force and violence,” It was called the “gag act” because it put a gag on what one could read or say. Guilt was determined by whether one had the works of Lenin and Trotsky on one’s bookshelf.

The Stalinists urged the death penalty for the Smith Act, not realizing that it would be used against them after World War II.

The Minneapolis 17 who were convicted had taken the lead in organizing the Teamsters Union and the great Minneapolis General Strike of the mid-1930s. (The story is told in Charles Rumford Walker’s American City.) Minnesota’s governor, Floyd B. Olson, said “I hope the capitalist system goes straight to hell.” Roosevelt’s Attorney General, Biddle, wrote in his biography that the one thing that he was ashamed about was having framed up the Minneapolis 17, because by no threat were they really a danger. The deal was a political favor to AFL head Daniel Tobin who opposed my father’s pressure to organize the teamsters within the CIO, and to the mafia that was eager to take over the Teamsters Union and had always had great sway within the Democratic Party.

My father’s crime was calling in the National Guard to protect the strikers from the police and thugs who had been hired as strike breakers to beat up the Teamsters and their supporters. His party name was Jack Ranger, and so I was nicknamed “The son of the Lone Ranger” as a kid. His major writing was the pamphlet “Next: A Labor Party.” He also wrote articles on the Minneapolis strikes for the Nation.

Minneapolis was the only city in the world that was under Trotskyist leadership — where, as one reporter put it a few years ago, being a Trotskyist was a career advancement opportunity.

My father had graduated from the University of Minnesota business school with an MBA in 1929 and hoped to become a millionaire in Latin American mining. But then the stock market crash and depression occurred, and he discovered that capitalism wasn’t fair. He read widely, and joined Jim Cannon’s Socialist Workers Party, the Trotskyist party.

I knew most of his fellow felons growing up as a little boy. I remember visiting him in jail, and everyone singing the Internationale and other songs to fan the flames of discontent.

After 1945 he followed Max Shachtman’s Independent Socialist League, and Max became a mentor of mine. Other members of the Minneapolis 17 who moved to Chicago was the group’s lawyer, Al Goldman, who spent much of his life trying to track down who killed his two German colleagues Emma Goldman and Karl Liebknecht. Al Russell also often visited from New York. Dad’s former cellmates helped me acclimatize when I moved to New York in 1960. So here, as in statist Russia, prisons were indeed the University of the Revolution.

My father said that his year in jail was the happiest year of his life. (He wasn’t much of a “people person.”) He was assigned to the library, where he collected the proverbs in this collection. After we moved to Chicago, he stenciled many proverbs on each wall of our house, from the living room down to the bathrooms.

He also compiled a dictionary of everything that Lenin and Trotsky had said about virtually every political subject. As a teenager, my friend Gavin MacFadyen and I used to sit down in the basement (where the banned books and pamphlets were kept in the 1950s) and pore over the index cards with these maxims. This was a great help in our Social Science classes at the University of Chicago’s Laboratory School. (Gavin was expelled for being a bit too attentive to what we learned.) Unfortunately, this collection somehow got lost in Dad’s move down to Florida when he retired from his position as editor of Dental Abstracts. He had edited Traffic World, but the FBI came around to his boss and asked why they had hired a Marxist. His boss was about to accuse others of Communism, so Dad was fired. But the American Dental Association, which hired him as an editor, said that they didn’t care about his politics, and he worked happily there for perhaps 20 years. (He died at the age of 95 in 2003.)

Informally, Dad also edited the pacifist Liberation magazine, whose mailing address was our house on Dorchester in Hyde-Park Kenwood (about a block or so from where Obama’s house now is.) Along with Sidney Lens, he became an advocate of Rev. A. J. Muste.

FBI men would often appear at the house and ask him questions like where his loyalty would lie in case of an atopic war with China. Also, they liked to set up cameras across the street and take pictures of us when we left the house. When neighbors would ask them what the fuss was all about, they would say, “Don’t you know who lives there …?” They didn’t mention the proverbs book. I got used to coming home and sometimes finding two crew-cut FBI men in the living room with my father, up-dating their files on him. (Later, Gavin got copies of the FBI files, and they were filled with wrong information from obviously bad informers. It was comical in retrospect.)

When I joined the Hudson Institute (no relation, except that we were both named after the river, which an ancestor of mine discovered) in 1972, Herman Kahn asked me whether there was any reason I couldn’t get a security clearance for when he took me to the White House and military think tanks. I told him about Dad’s conviction, and he said not to worry — the government knew that I wasn’t soft on Stalinism. (Herman collected many Schachtmanites around him.)

Many years after compiling these proverbs, Dad added a preface to say that over time, he had come to the conclusion that Trotsky’s economic program would have turned out along much the same lines as Stalin’s. When talking to socialists he became a libertarian, although when talking to most people he remained a socialist.

About 15 years ago Gavin produced an hour-long documentary and interview with Dad, discussing his work with Trotsky in Mexico. (Dad’s sister, my aunt Jeri Hudson de Leon, was married to a Mercedes dealer in Mexico City at the time, so my parents stayed with her while working with Trotsky, along with other Minneapolis activists.) But Gavin’s colleagues have not been able to find just where he put the CD, and I don’t remember his giving me a copy after we screened it in London.

When I went to Russia in 1994, I was brought to the house of some researchers who were reading the then-recently released files on Trotsky. They said that one thing puzzled them: Did he really have an affair with Frieda Kahlo?

I phoned Dad from their Moscow house. Dad got worried that the phones were being tapped and that I’d get in trouble, but I said that all the Russians really cared about those days was money, not old politics. So he laughed and laughed and said that, yes, he used to drive Trotsky back and forth to see Frieda.

Huck (“Michael”) Hudson


1. Behind the able man there are able men. Chinese

2. Pierce the abscess.
(i.e. come to the point.) Bantu

3. An abscess heals when opened.
(i.e. peace comes by sharing your troubles with another.) Bantu

4. Abundance causes poverty. German

5. Abundance creates daintiness. Italian

6. Abundance is a friendly fellow, he is loved by big and small. Semitic

7. The abuse of a thing is no argument against its use. Latin

8. It is honorable to be accused by those who deserve to be accused. Latin

9. The pig which is once seen in the crevice of the fence is accused of all faults. Finnish

10. He who accused too many accuses himself.

11. Acorns were good till corn was discovered. Latin

12. One does not sleep to sleep, but to act. German

13. Virtue consists in action. Dutch

14. For the sake of one good action a hundred evil ones should be forgotten. Chinese

Action is the proper fruit of knowledge.

One actor cannot perform a play. Chinese

He is a man who acts like a man. Danish

Adversity comes with instruction in its hand. Welsh

When the rabbit has escaped comes advice. Spanish

He who will not take advice gets knowledge when trouble overtakes him. Kaffir

Advice given in the midst of a crowd is loathsome. Arabian

After-advice is a fool’s advice. German

Good advice is no better than bad advice unless it is taken at the right time. Danish

Advice is not compulsion. German

Advisers are not the payers. French

Affectation is a greater enemy to the face than small-pox.

Failing to obtain a lovely woman, affection is lavished on animals. Sanskrit

The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected. Spanish

Don’t let your age ask: “Where was your youth?” Serbian

Age makes many a man white but not better. Danish

They agree like the clocks of London. (i.e. there is no agreement.) English

Without conversation there is no agreement. Montenegrin

He who aims at an iron target gets the bullet in his face. German

Ale sellers should not be tale-tellers. English

“All but” saves many a man. Danish

“Almost” and “very nigh” saves many a lie. English

“Almost” never killed a fly. German

Who lives by the altar must serve the altar. German

There is no fall for an ambassador. Turkish

Don’t say amen to an unacceptable prayer. Turkish

An amiable person is never good-for-nothing. Sudanic

He that boasts of his ancestors confesses he has no virtue of his own.

Mules make a great fuss about their ancestors having been asses. German

There is no higher ancestry than Adam. Philippine

He that is slow to anger is of great understanding.

He that can reply calmly to an angry man is too hard for him. English

The animal with long ears, after having drunk, gives a kick to the bucket. Italian

Who sees with the eye of another is as blind as a mole. German

When another man suffers a piece of wood suffers. Arabian

It is not easy to know your butter in another man’s cabbage. Danish

Another man’s horse and your own whip can do a great deal. Danish

From another’s cart you must get off halfway. Polish

He who builds on another’s ground loses his stone and mortar. Italian

Another’s misfortune is only a dream. French

No answer is also an answer. Danish

Who answers suddenly knows little.

A coconut-shell full of water is an ocean to an ant. Indian

Even an ant is eight spans long as measured by its own hand. Tamil

In the ant’s house dew is a deluge. Persian

The blow falls more lightly when anticipated. Latin

The higher the ape goes, the more he shows his tail. English

Waiting on the table is a powerful way to get up an appetite. Negro

It is difficult to satisfy one’s appetite by painting pictures of cakes. Chinese

He who would not lose his appetite should not go into the kitchen. German

See how we apples swim! Quoth the horse-turd. English

A gentle word will make the argument strong. Welsh

Even workhouses have their aristocracy. Maga

Stretch your arm no further than your sleeve will reach. English

Two are an army against one. Icelandic

A featherless arrow does not fly. Sudanic

The perfection of art is to conceal art.

An artist lives everywhere. English

He who wants a good deal must not ask for a little. Italian

To ask in anger is to go to sea in a storm. French

Do not ask me whose son I am, but who I am. Russian

Never ask of him who has, but of him who wishes you well. Spanish

Asking costs little. Italian

He who first asks does not give very willingly. Polish

He that asks faintly begs a denial. English

He denies himself who asks what is impossible to grant.

Because he cannot beat the ass, he strikes his saddle. Latin

is summoned to the wedding, it is to carry

When all men say you are an ass it is time to bray. Hungarian

If an ass kicks you, don’t kick him back. Italian

The ass loaded with gold still eats thistles. English

Whip the saddle, that the ass may meditate. Bulgarian

He that makes himself an ass must not take it ill if men ride him.

What good can it do an ass to be called a lion? English

They invited an ass to the wedding feast and he said: “Assuredly they want some more wood and water.” Bosnian

To lather an ass’s head is only wasting soap. Spanish

That’s a vicious animal, when one attacks him, he defends himself. French

Things hardly attained are longer retained. English

Two attorneys can live in a town, when one cannot. English

If my aunt had been a man, she’d have been my uncle. English

Go to your aunt’s house but not every day. Spanish

He who is in a position of authority, never coughs.
(i.e. need not remind others of his presence.) Sudanic

It is not for a man in authority to sleep a whole night.

Avarice increases with wealth. Italian

Awls are not carried in a sack. Bulgarian

The axe attacks the forest, from whence it got its own handle.

Once a baboon has tasted honey, it does not touch earth again.
(i.e. once a man has been put in a position of authority, he does not accept an inferior one.) Bantu

102. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Danish

103. Bad news is always true. Spanish

Bad news is the first to come. Italian

105. A bad thing that does no harm is the same as a good one that 
does no good. German

106. An empty bag is heavier than a full one. Bulgarian

107. When the bait is worth more than the fish it’s time to stop 
fishing. Negro

108. A person waiting for hair is not bald. Welsh

109. Why should two bald men fight over a comb. Russian

You will not believe he’s bald till you see his brains. English

A bald-headed man cannot grow hair by getting excited about it. Sudanic

If the ball does not stick to the wall, it will at least leave a mark. Spanish

In the next world bankers have to count red-hot coins with bare hands. Russian

You went to the barber before us and of course you have the longer hair. Malay

A barber learns to shave by shaving fools. English

One barber shaves another gratis. English

It is a barber’s news. Greek

He who goes barefoot cannot do others harm. Polish

Fraud squats under a good bargain. Italian

When the purchase has been made it is too late to bargain. Swiss

On a good bargain think twice.

A great barker sees nothing. Kalmuk

He barks; so he will not bite. Indian

No battle was ever lost because of the small people. German

A dead bee makes no honey. English

Beans come from the place where the beans are. Bantu

He must have iron nails that scratches a bear. English

All know the bear, but the bear knows nobody. Finnish

The brains don’t lie in the beard. Danish

A man without a beard is like a loaf that has no crust. Russian

One does not beat the corn on account of the chaff. Russian

Man cannot divide beauty into dollars. Polish

Beauty’s only skin deep but ugly goes to the bone. English

Whose bed is warm, his dinner is cold. Serbian

Bed is a medicine. Italian

They came to shoe the Pasha’s horses, and the beetle stretched out his leg. Persian

It is unlawful to beg from a beggar. Oriental

Sue a beggar and get a louse. English

If you don’t give the beggar anything, don’t tear his bag. Irish

The beggar of crumbs gets more than the beggar of loaves. Indian

Beggars fear no rebellion. English

Never stand begging for what you have the power to take. Spanish

Begging is an easy trade, only the standing at the door is hard. Arabic

He is not done who is beginning. French

The beginning and the end stretch out their hands to each other. German

He who begins and does not finish loses his labor. French

Belief can never be poured into anyone with a spoon. Russian

If you believe, it is a deity; otherwise, a stone. Indian

He does not believe who does not live according to his belief.

He that believes all, misseth; he that believes nothing misseth. English

It is by believing in roses that brings them to bloom. French

While the great bells are ringing no one hears the little ones. Danish

The belly hates a long sermon.

An empty belly hears nobody. English

An empty belly knows no law. Russian

The belly thinks the throat is cut. English

The beloved one has no pimples. Bantu

The best is cheapest. German

The best is often times the enemy of the good. English

Better is better. German

Better less and better. Russian

If better were in better would come out. Danish

He is a big man, but a small coat fits him. Irish

Every bird must hatch its own eggs. English

When a bird sleeps with a rook, it will caw like a rook. Serbian

Birds pay equal honors to all men.

If you cannot bite, never show your teeth. English

Never bite, unless you make your teeth meet. Scottish

Never make two bites of a cherry. English

Beyond black there is no color. (i.e. the limit has been reached.) Persian

He who blackens others does not whiten himself. German

172. He who compels you to blame him has made up his mind to forsake you. Arabic

173. He who wants to blame sometimes finds the sugar sour. German

174. There are none so blind as they who willfully shut their eyes. Arabian.

175. Amongst the blind one forgets how to see. German

176. One does not speak of color to a blind man. English

177. A pebble and a diamond are alike to a blind man. English

178. When the blind man carries the lame man, both go forward. Swedish.

179. A blind man comes into possession of eyeglasses. Siamese

Light is light, though the blind man sees it not. German

181. It is a blind man’s question to ask why those things are loved are beautiful.

182. For whom does the blind man’s wife adorn herself? Spanish

Blind men should judge no colors. English

In the kingdom of blind men, the one-eyed is king. English

No one can blow and swallow at the same time. German

A blow from a frying pan, though it may not hurt, sullies. Spanish

A blow with a pestle will make no impression on one to whom a wink is of no effect. Singhalese

Beware of the man who cannot deal blows. Abyssinian

He who carries the bludgeon owns the buffalo. Indian

With houses and gold, men are rarely bold. German

A bold man has luck in his train. Danish

He was a bold man that first ate an oyster. English

The bones before being thrown into the street were on the master’s table. Negro

A load of books does not equal one good teacher. Chinese

He who knows books has four eyes. Bulgarian

I wept when I was born and every day shows why.

He borrowed a loaf from the batch.
(i.e. had intercourse before marriage.) French

If borrowed trousers be not too slack towards the ankle, they make a tight fit around the calves. Sudan

Draw your bow but do not discharge the arrow; it is better to frighten a man than to strike him. Chinese

If the bow is drawn taut, the arrow will fly fast. Chinese

While the boy is small, you can see the man. Chinese

The ugliest things are a poor braggart and a rich thief. Breton

All the brains are not in one head. Italian

Everyone gives himself credit for more brains than he has. Italian

A young branch takes on all the bends that one gives it. Chinese

Many are brave when the enemy flies. Italian

The sweat of a brave man is blood. Bantu

A brave man needs but a short dagger. German

Make your head into a cart and your feet into wheels and you’ll get bread. Indian

He thinks of everything who wants bread. French

They are bread and cheese.
(i.e. sworn friends.) Italian

His bread is baked for his lifetime.
(i.e. he is well provided for.) Belgian

The bread never falls but on its buttered side. English

He who does not breed is always craving. Spanish

He that is an enemy of the bride does not speak well of the wedding. Spanish

Brothers are like hands and feet. Chinese

A mad bull is not to be tied up with a packthread. English

The bull without a tail drives away the flies from the other bulls. Georgian

None knows the weight of another’s burden.

It is not the burden, but the over-burden, that kills the beast. Spanish

A heavy burden does not kill on the day it is carried. Bantu

Light burdens borne far become heavy. German

Who doth not burn doth not inflame. Italian

To burn one’s house to get rid of the mice. English

He who has burnt his mouth with milk blows on ice cream. Turkish

He to whom nature hasn’t given horns shouldn’t butt. German

The butterfly often forgets it was a caterpillar. Swedish

It is not well to buy of those to whom you must take off your hat. Danish

Buy what is old and you must buy again. Welsh

It is good to buy when another wants to sell. Italian

The buyer needs a hundred eyes, the seller not one. Italian

O buyer, remember the day when you will sell. Semitic

If you bring things to the buyer you sell them at half-price. Indian

A person who buys an ox by the footmark. Bantu

All the buzzards in the settlement will come to the grey mule’s funeral. Negro

Two “anons” and a “by-and-by” are an hour and a half.

By the street of “by-and-by” one arrives at the house of never.


I don’t cook my cabbage twice.
(i.e. I don’t repeat my tale.) Irish

You cackle often, but never lay an egg. English

It is as yet an unborn calf.
(i.e. an unrealized ambition.) Bantu

They think a calf a muckle beast that never saw a cow. Scottish

The greatest calf is not the sweetest veal. English

It is not known what calf the cow will have. Bantu

If thou suffer a calf to be laid on thee, within a little they’ll clap on the cow. Italian

There are calumnies against which even innocence loses courage. French

Everything with a crooked neck is not a camel. German

The camel has his own opinion and the camel driver has his. African

They said to the camel-bird, “Take up a load”; he replied, “I am a bird.” They said, “Fly”’ he said: “I am a camel.” Persian

At the foot of the candle it is dark.
(i.e. at the foot of the throne are scheming men.)

See the candle light before you blow out the match. Negro

One sees no further than the candle lights. Walloon

He burns one candle to seek another. English

He uses a cannon to shoot a sparrow. Chinese

Capon comes to him who eats capon. French

Carefulness can go everywhere. Chinese

Light cares speak, great ones are dumb. English

When the house is built the carpenter is forgotten. Indian

A carpenter is known by his chips. English

He’s not the best carpenter that makes the most chips. English

He who is carried does not realize that the town is far off. Hamitic

You can’t carry what you can’t lift. Russian

“Will pay” is a fine bird but “cash down” sings. Spanish

The cask can give no other wine than what it contains. Italian

When cat and mouse agree the farmer has no chance. Dutch

What should you expect from a cat except a kitten? Irish

A cat in gloves catches no mice. English

They turn the cat in the pan.
(i.e. change sides.) English

268. After eating nine hundred rats, the cat is now going on a pilgrimage.
(i.e. pretending to turn over a new leaf.) Italian

269. The cat loves fish but is loath to wet her feet. Italian

270. The cat that licks the spit is not to be trusted with roast meat. Italian

271. Honest is the cat when the meat is out of reach.

Who will not feed the cats, must feed the mice and rats. German

273. If you do not rear cats, you will raise mice. Bulgarian

274. There are no cattle without a dung-heap. Bantu

275. The cause finds arms.

276. The most cautious passes for the most chaste. Spanish

There are many crosses upon a cemetery, but no cares. Russian

A centipede doesn’t stop for a game leg. Burmese

Hit one ring and the whole chain will resound. Bantu

Old chains gall less than new. English

Something must be left to chance. English

To change and to better are two different things. German

Change yourself and fortune will change with you. Portuguese

When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends. Japanese

He who chastises one threatens a hundred. Italian

It’s like the chastity of an ugly woman. Singhalese

He is never likely to have a good thing cheap that is afraid to ask a price. English

If you buy meat cheap, when it boils you will smell what you have saved. Arabic

It is well worth while letting oneself be cheated sometime. Latin

The chemist’s shop is an expensive kitchen.
(i.e. ill health is costly.) Czech

Take the chestnuts out of the fire with the cat’s paw. English

First chew and then spit. Czech

The chief has no relative. Bantu

A chief’s weights are not the same as a poor man’s weights. Sudanic

If the child does not cry, the mother does not understand it. Russian

Many kiss the child for the nurse’s sake. English

Even a child may beat a man that’s bound. English

It is easier to bear a child once a year than to shave every day. (Said by soldiers to their wives.) Russian

A child regards his father’s guest as a slave. Sudanic

The sucking child says, “Mother is the best cook.”
(i.e. don’t express preference without trying an alternative.) Bantu

A child that asks questions is not stupid. Sudanic

The illegitimate child was hidden in a bottle, and he put forth a finger. (i.e. the secret could not be suppressed.) Bantu

If with the right hand you flog the child, with the left draw him unto your breast. Sudanic

With one child you may walk; with two you may ride; when you have three, at home you must bide. Cornish

The judgment of children – what they hear at home. Basque

Bells call each other to church, but go not themselves. English

You’re in the right church, but in the wrong pew.
(i.e. partly right and partly wrong.) Negro

A rich church – poor peasants. German

Let the church stand in the church-yard.

The nearer to church, the farther from God. French

The poorer the church, the purer the church. English

In the visible church, the true Christians are invisible. German

In the primitive church there were chalices of wood and priests of gold; in the modern church there are chalices of gold and priests of wood. German

In the city where you wish to sell flowers, do not kick up the dust. Oriental

Where you cannot climb over you must creep under. Danish

He that never climbed never fell. English

The worst clothed are still put to the windward. French

He who clothes himself with bad cloth clothes himself twice in the year. Brazilian

Many come to bring their clothes to church rather than themselves. English

It isn’t in a coal sack that one finds white flour. Walloon

A thread-bare coat is armor proof against highwaymen. English

Cobbler, do not judge above the shoe. Latin

Day can dawn even without the cock. Serbian

A cockroach is always wrong when arguing with a chicken.

A cockroach stands no chance in a fowl country. Negro

A bad coin knows many people. Slovenian

Let them that be cold blow at the coal. English

Cold teaches to steal coal. Arabic

It is poor comfort for one who has broken his leg that another has broken his neck. Danish

It is a fine thing to command, though it is but a herd of cattle. Spanish

If you command wisely, you’ll be obeyed cheerfully. English

He who commences many things, finishes but few. English

When you have no companion, consult your walking-stick. Albanian

If your companion is a good one, Bagdad becomes quite near. Turkish

A good companion makes a heaven out of hell. German

A merry companion on the road is as good as a nag. English

A company of men is as good as a miracle.
(i.e. in unity there is strength.) Indian

Company in distress makes trouble less. French

The world is Allah’s, the land is the Pasha’s, but the company rules. (i.e. the British Indies company.) Indian

Pleasant company shortens the miles. German

The shortest road’s where the company’s good. Scottish

Comparison is no proof. French

He that complies against his will, is of his own opinion still. English

Confession is as medicine to him who goes astray. Latin

Confidence is a plant of slow growth. English

Confidence is the companion of success. English

He hath conquered that hath made his enemies fly.

He who considers everything decides nothing. Chinese

Be constant; if you say “one,” do not say “two.” Arabic

To contradict sometimes means to knock at the door to know whether there is anyone in the house. French

Although there exist three hundred and forty-six subjects for elegant conversation, there are persons who cannot meet a cripple without talking about feet. Chinese

When the cook and steward fall out, we hear who stole the butter. Dutch

The cook should have his master’s palate. Latin

He is a poor cook that cannot lick his own fingers. English

Cooks are not to be taught in their own kitchen. English

All are not cooks who carry long knives. Dutch

Copper produces a copper mass.
(i.e. you get what you pay for.) Italian

A lame man copulates best. Greek

The cord breaketh at the last by the weakest pull. Spanish

The cork is always bigger than the mouth of the bottle. Estonian

He measures another’s corn by his own bushel. English

To correct Magnificat before one has learnt Te Deum. English

None goes to the gallows for giving ill counsel. English

If the counsel be good, no matter who gave it. English

Good counsel is better than a great army. German

Wheresoever we live well, that is our country. English

Every man loves his country, even if it be hell. Persian

When you go to a country where they all dance with one foot, then dance with one foot too. Negro

Fine or not, it is my country’s wine. Chinese

He that counts all costs, will never put plough in the earth. English

Courage ought to have eyes as well as arms. English

The steps at court are slippery. Danish

The soup at court is very good, but you have to jump high for it. Czech

Whoso will dwell in court must needs curry favor. English

That which covers thee discovers thee. English

You cannot strip two skins off one cow. Chinese

One can stand being kicked by both hind legs at once if the cow be a good milker. Indian

Milk the cow, but don’t pull off the udder. Dutch

A cow does not calve in the herd.
(i.e. a secret is not told in a crowd.) Bantu

A cow is not called dappled unless she has a spot. Danish

One who does what he says is not a coward. Sudanic

Reasoning is the shackle of the coward. Hamitic

A coward calls himself cautious and a miser thrifty.

One coward makes ten. German

In the house of the coward there is no weeping.
(i.e. because he always turns up safe.) Bantu

Between two cowards, he has the advantage who first detects the other. Italian

Many would be cowards if they had courage enough. English

Cowards run the greatest danger of any men in a battle. English

Cowards’ weapons neither cut nor pierce. Italian

If the crab is small it associates with a smaller kind of crab. Sudanic

He who is of the craft can discourse about it. Italian

Craftsmen are brothers. Welsh

Creditors have better memories than debtors. English

A crime in which many are implicated goes unpunished.

Successful crime is called a virtue.

He does the crime who profits by it. French

A crocodile in water can destroy an elephant; out of the stream it is overcome by a dog. Burmese

The strength of the crocodile is in the water. Bantu

Cross in a crowd, the crocodile won’t eat you. Malay

Don’t think there are no crocodiles because the water’s calm. Malayan

Don’t curse the crocodile’s mother before you cross the river. Bantu

If the staff be crooked, the shadow cannot be straight. English

The crow does not louse the buffalo to clean him, but to feed itself. Bulgarian

When the crow is your guide he will lead you to the corpses of dogs. Arabic

A whitewashed crow will not remain white long. Chinese

Call out a name in a crowd and someone is sure to answer. Chinese

A crowd is not company.

He who does not mix with the crowd knows nothing. Spanish

The greatest cunning is to have none at all. French

Where there is no hope of a cure, one saves the medicine. German

It is part of the cure to wish to be cured.

Idle curiosity sometimes fills the mousetrap. Dutch

Curses, like processions, come back to their starting-point. Italian

A thousand curses never tore a shirt. Syriac

Once is no custom. Italian

Be a custom good or bad a peasant will have it continue in force. Spanish

Custom is the guide of the ignorant. English

Custom is the plague of wise men, and the idol of fools. English

A cake and a bad custom ought to be broken. French

Men do more from custom than from reason. Latin

Custom without reason is but an ancient error. English

Where it is customary the cow is put to bed. Swiss

Bad customs are better broke then kept up. English


You will neither dance nor hold the candle. Scottish

More belongs to dancing than a pair of dancing shoes. Dutch

They love dancing well that dance among thorns. English

One danger is not overcome without another. Italian

Better face a danger once than be always in fear. English

Without danger we cannot get beyond danger. English

He that will not sail until all dangers are over must not put to sea.

Joan is as good as my lady in the dark. English

It is ill to drive black hogs in the dark. English

He who gropes in the dark finds what he would not.

When the date-crop is over everyone mocks at the palm tree. Abyssinian

I say it to you, daughter, hear it, daughter-in-law. Spanish

It is still the first day. Indian

There is a day to be born and a day to die. Chinese

There is a day to cast your nets and a day to dry your nets. Chinese

In the east there are many days and they all pass away in the west. Finnish

One of these days is none of these days. English

Is it the days you would count? The hairs of a cow are few. Bantu

There’s a cure for everything but stark dead. Irish

The dead are at the mercy of the living. Persian

When one is dead it is for a long time. French

The real dead one must not seek in graves. German

A deaf hearer makes a crazy answerer. Danish

When the deaf gives the blind a lamp he receives bagpipes. German

A deaf man laughs twice.
(i.e. when he sees others laughing and when he learns the point.) Afghanistan

It is only the first bottle that is dear. French

The first breath is the beginning of death. English

He hauls a long rope who expects another’s death. Italian

The old man runs away from death, but the child stands and looks at it. Sudanic

Death doesn’t look at our teeth. Russian

Death for a common cause is beautiful. Russian

We do not get even death free of charge, for it costs us our life. Russian

He who is afraid of death has lost his life. Estonian

Death helps out of difficulties but demands high payment. Swedish

Death is a black camel which kneels at every man’s gate. Turkish

Death is the poor man’s physician. German

The man in debt is a swimmer with his boots on. Negro

Deceiving of a deceiver is no knavery. English

He that once deceives is ever suspected. English

If a man deceives me once, shame on him; if he deceives me twice, shame on me. English

In the inn of decision men sleep well. Oriental

Deeds are fruits, words are leaves.

Let men know by your own deeds who were your ancestors. Japanese

He who can shoot a deer lets the hare run away. German

The deer-hunter does not look at the hare. Chinese

Better deny at once than promise long. Danish

He who depends on another, dines ill and sups worse. English

The destitute does not live, but dies by inches. Russian

Mankind bestows more applause on her destroyers than her benefactors. English

A man without determination is but an untempered sword. Chinese

Deviate an inch and lose a thousand miles. Chinese

Don’t mention the cross to the devil. Italian

It is good sometimes to hold a candle to the devil. English

Make not even the devil blacker than he is. English

“You look like a runner,” quoth the devil to the crab.

You would do little for God if the devil were dead. Scottish

If you have swallowed the devil, you may swallow his horns. English

The best throw of the dice is to throw them away. English

It’s long ere “likely to die” fills the churchyard. Scottish

If we go forward we die; if we go backward we die; better go forward and die. Bantu

He hath lived ill that knows not how to die well. English

He wants to die with all his teeth in his head.
(i.e. die young.) North American Indian

He that died half a year ago is as dead as Adam. English

There is no difference between bread-and-milk and milk-and-bread. (i.e. don’t split hairs.) Breton

What one knows not how to do is difficult, what one knows how to do is not. Chinese

The dinner-bell’s always in tune. Negro

He who washes off the dirt washes off the luck. Chinese

Count the disadvantages first, then the advantages. Indian

Murder may be condoned but discourtesy never. Chinese

Desperate diseases must have desperate cures. English

He who disparages wants to buy. Italian

He who knows not how to dissemble knows not how to command. Spain

Who knows not how to dissemble knows not how to live. English

The bone is left in the hand of the distributor. Finnish

If you don’t want anyone to know it, don’t do it. Chinese

If you do it, don’t talk about it. German

If you do what people tell you, you will be fishing hare in the sea and hunting fish in the woods. Bulgarian

Do not adjust your sandals in a melon field, or arrange your hat under a plum tree. (i.e. lest you be thought stealing.) Chinese

“Don’t do it” is the best remedy for “Let it not be known.” Sudanic

Do not ask the doctor, ask the patient. German

A doctor bald to the nape of his neck is not likely to cure anybody of baldness. Sudanic

The doctor cures the sick man who does not die. Japanese

The doctor demands his fees whether he has killed the illness or the patient. Polish

When everybody is doing well, the doctor is miserable. Hungarian

The doctor is never killed because the patient dies. Sudanic

The gentle-handed doctor makes a stinking wound. French

If you do not pay the doctor who has cured you, beware of falling ill again. Chinese

The more doctors, the more diseases. Portuguese

Good doctrine needs no miracle. Japanese

The doctrine that enters only into the eye and ear is like the repast one takes in a dream. Chinese

A great many shoes are worn out before a man does what he says.

I will not keep a dog, and bark myself. English

The dog barks, but the camel passes on. Semitic

None but a dog bites in his own house.
(i.e. said of a person who quarrels with his guests.) Semitic

The dog bites the stone, not him that throws it. English

When a dog cannot bark it has a bone in its mouth.
(i.e. a man cannot reprove another if he has sinned in the same way.) Bantu

A good dog deserves a bone. English

An old dog does not bark for nothing. French

A dog does not long remain tied to a sausage. German

In beating a dog, first find out who his owner is. Chinese

If the dog goes when the cat comes, there will be no fight. Chinese

A wet dog has no master.
(i.e. no one wants to claim a miserable thing.) Bantu

Beware the dog himself; his shadow does not bite. Danish

Every dog is a lion at home. English

When a dog is drowning, everyone offers him drink. English

The dog is the same, he has only changed his collar. Spanish

If you want a pretense to whip a dog, it is enough to say he ate up the frying-pan. English

A dog limps when it likes.
(Said to one who makes pretexts.) Breton

He has the black dog on his back.
(i.e. he is in low spirits.) English

The dog on three legs isn’t always lame. Negro

He that wants to hang a dog says it bites the sheep. Danish

The leaner the dog the fatter the flea. German

If you would entice a dog to you, don’t hold a stick in your hand. Bantu

Keep the bone and the dog will follow you. Irish

A dog will not cry if you beat him with a bone. English

Don’t pelt the dog with meat dumplings. Chinese

In every country dogs bite. English

The dog’s kennel is not a place to keep a sausage. Danish

A dog’s tears drop inside.
(i.e. a poor man has no means of expressing his grief.) Bantu

Dogs which fight each other unite against the wolf. Armenian

He that lies down with dogs will get up with fleas. Spanish

A dogmatical tone, a pragmatical pate. English

In doing we learn. English

If something is done for you, it must always be reckoned as good. Chinese

He that is a donkey and believes himself a deer finds out his mistake at the leaping of the ditch. Italian

The trot of a donkey does not last long. German

When you go to a donkey’s house don’t talk about ears. Negro

When one door closes, a hundred are barred. Spanish

A creaking door hangs long on its hinges.
(i.e. a complaining sick person lives long.) English

A door must be either open or shut.
(i.e. there is only one alternative.) French

Where one door shuts another opens. Spanish

Beware of a door that has too many keys.
(i.e. beware of a secret widely held.) Portuguese

When you doubt do not act. Latin

With great doubts comes great understanding; with small doubts comes little understanding. Chinese

Doubts mean losing half of one’s case beforehand. Chinese

A dragon stranded in shallow water furnishes amusement for the shrimps. Chinese

Dragons beget dragons; phoenixes hatch out phoenixes. Chinese

A slice of ham is better than a fat pig in a dream. German

A dream grants what one covets when awake. German

When troubles are few, dreams are few. Chinese

Dreams are themselves nothing but dreams. Spanish

Three-tenths of good looks are due to nature, seven-tenths to dress. Chinese

Friends are at fault when a man is allowed to wear his dress awry. Chinese

You look at what I drink and not at my thirst. Spanish

They speak of my drink, that never consider my drouth. Scottish

If you don’t drink, the price of wine is of no interest. Chinese

Thousands drink themselves to death before one dies of thirst. German

First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes the man. Japanese

It is easier to drink two glasses than to excuse yourself from one. Polish

He speaks in his drink what he thought in his drouth. English

I hate a man with a memory at a drinking bout. German

He who likes drinking is always talking of wine. Italian

He who would drive another over three dikes must climb over two himself. Dutch

Drive not away what never came near you. Danish

A little drop of water silences a boiling pot. German

Drops excavate rocks. Bulgarian

A drowning man would catch at razors. Italian

Where drums speak out, laws hold their tongues.

If everyone tells you you are drunk, go to bed – even if you are perfectly sober. Serbian

To a drunken man the sea is only knee-deep. Russian

What has been said in a drunken state has been thought out beforehand. Flemish

“Who can help sickness?” quoth the drunken wife as she fell in the gutter. Scottish

To come home with a duck in the mouth.
(i.e. to be successful.) English

The quiet duck puts his foot on the unobservant worm. Chinese

The song of the dumb is murmured to himself. Malay

He that blows in the dust, fills his eyes with it. English

Better walk in the dust than crawl near the throne. German

Don’t talk small to a dwarf. Chinese

A dwarf on a giant’s shoulders sees further of the two. English

A dwarf sees giants everywhere. German

When with dwarfs do not talk about pygmies. Chinese


The eagle loves the mountain. Caucasian

Eagles fly alone. English

In the land where there are no eagles the sparrow pretends he is an eagle. Dyak

Tales are the food of the ear. Sudanic

“Come and I’ll tell you” tickles the ear. Sudanic

The ear has one hole.
(i.e. the capacity of the listener is limited.) Sudanic

The hollow of the ear is never full.
(i.e. never tired of hearing.) Sudanic

Gifted ears sprout on a gifted head.
(i.e. an intelligent man makes use of all he hears.) Hamitic

To get up early for three mornings is equal to one day of time. Chinese

The early hour has gold in its mouth. Estonian

Any place in the yellow earth will do to bury a man. Chinese

It is very savory to eat scot free. Spanish

There is no economy in going to bed early to save candles if the result be twins. Chinese

He who holds an eel by the tail does not have it. Latin

Holding an eel too fast is the way to let it go. English

It is hard to shave an egg. English

Some look for hair in a new-laid egg. Italian

The egg hurls itself against the stone. Chinese

You will find it out when you want to fry the eggs. Spanish

“An egg’s an egg” said the boor, and took the goose egg. German

Guess how many eggs are in the basket and you shall have the whole seven. German

From twelve eggs he gets thirteen chickens.
(i.e. he is lucky.) German

I’ll break the eggs in your pocket.
(i.e. will ruin your plans.) English

Eggs must not quarrel with stones. Chinese

The riches of Egypt are for the foreigners therein. Egyptian

There is no elbow that bends outward. Chinese

All are weak to the elephant. Indian

An elephant dies, but no one finds his trunk; a tiger dies, but no one finds his stripes. (i.e. crime often goes unpunished.) Malayan

An elephant does not die of one broken rib. Bantu

If you kill, kill an elephant; if you rob, rob a treasury. Indian

The elephant is not weighed down by his tusks.
(i.e. the rich are not burdened by their wealth.) Bantu

If it is a real tusk of the elephant, it will never be eaten up by insects. Burmese

Embraces and kisses don’t make children but they ring for vespers. (i.e. are the forerunners.) Spanish

628. He is so full of himself that he is quite empty. English

629. He that endures is not overcome. English

630. Have not too many enemies: a fierce serpent may be killed by a
swarm of insects. Burmese

631. If you have no enemies, it’s a sign fortune has forgot you.

Many enemies, much honor. German

633. He who has three enemies must agree with two. German

634. It is better to decide a difference between enemies than friends;
for one of our friends will certainly become an enemy, and one of
our enemies a friend. English

635. He is above his enemies that despises their injuries. English

636. If an enemy does good things, they are evil. Greek

637. For a flying enemy make a silver bridge. English

638. Out of a secret enemy one must make an open one. German

639. An enemy to a man are his possessions. Welsh

If we are bound to forgive an enemy, we are not bound to trust him. English

He is your enemy who is of your trade. Spanish

The root may become a palm, but our enemy will never be our friend. Kurdish

He lingers like English colonization.
(i.e. a guest who has outstayed his welcome.) Arabic

Enlightened men pronounce sentence on themselves. Chinese

Enough is as good as a feast. English

Enough is better than too much. French

Where there is more than enough, more than enough is wasted. Bantu

He who seeks the entrance should also think of the exit. German

Envy is the sorrow of fools. German

Always leave some way of escape for the erring. Chinese

An old error has more friends than a new truth. Danish

An error no wider than a hair will lead a hundred miles away
From the goal. German

The man is not escaped who still drags his chain after him. French

Be not an esquire where you were a page. Spanish

I am an esquire, you are an esquire, who will harness the horses? Turkish

He esteems the crow and nightingale alike. Turkish

Everybody says it, nobody does it. German

Example is a great orator. Czech

A good example is like a bell that calls many to church. Danish

He is a bad shot who cannot find an excuse. German

He who excuses himself, accuses himself. English

The executioner is a clean shaver. German

Exiles subsist on hope. Slovakian

All’s but lip-wit that wants experience. Scottish

You must look at the country of the one-eyed with one eye. India

The eye believes itself, the ear other people. German

A small hurt in the eye is a great one.

He that hath but one eye must be afraid to lose it. English

The eye of the master fattens the steed. French

The eye that sees all things else sees not itself. English

He who has only one eye wipes it well. German

It is no use applying ­eye-medicine from a two-story window.
(i.e. to give advice from afar.) Japanese

For that which interests one, one has open eyes. Sudanic

With the eyes a woman asks, takes, despises and kills. Spanish

When the eyes are closed the world is dark. India

Two eyes are for ornament, one is enough for seeing. Bantu

Eyes concealed mean a wound to the heart. Indian

Eyes feel shame from eyes.
(better to reprimand in person than in writing.) Afghanistan

The eyes have one language everywhere. English

What I see with my eyes I can guess with my fingers. Spanish

Nowhere in the world do eyes look satisfied. Russian

The eyes serve for ears to the deaf. Italian

All are not asleep who have their eyes shut. German


You wash my face.
(i.e. flatter me.) Spanish

The face came before the photograph. Negro

One slap hurts twenty faces.
(i.e. the slapped one complains.) Afghanistan

Faces we see, but not hearts. Mexican

A single fact is worth a shipload of argument. English

Facts are stubborn things. German

Don’t be faint-hearted, for a man’s fall is only on his hands and knees. Malay

Men speak of the fair, as things went with them there. English

He who gives fair words feeds you with an empty spoon. English

Fair words fill not the belly. English

Don’t lose the falcon until you see the hare. Chinese

If a man knew where he would fall, he would spread straw first. Finnish

He would fall on his back and break his nose.
(i.e. is unlucky.) English

He who falls gathers stones. Spanish

He that falls has no friends; only tumble and see. Turkish

He who falls with honor soon gets on his feet again. German

Some have the fame and others card the wool. Spanish

Fame is a magnifying glass. English

Nobody’s family can hang up the sign, “Nothing the matter here.” Chinese

We were already twenty in family, so my grandmother had a baby. Spanish

There are but two families in the world, the “haves” and the “have-nots.” Spanish

Cursing the weather is mighty poor farming. Negro

They that hold the greatest farms pay the least rent. English

Tailors and writers must mind the fashion. English

What has been the fashion will come into fashion again. Japanese

If fate throws a knife at you, there are two ways of catching it – by the blade and by the handle. Oriental

To be a father isn’t difficult. Turkestan

The fault is as great as he that commits it. Spanish

He that commits a fault thinks every one speaks of it. English

There are none so fortunate as never to be obliged to ask favors. Chinese

All the weapons of war will not arm fear. England

They that fear an overthrow are half beaten.

Fear is hollow in its center and around it there is nothing. Slovenian

If they fear you in your presence, they speak ill of you in your absence. Walloon

He who is feared gets more than his own. Spanish

Feather by feather, the goose is plucked. Italian

Those who think of every feather will never make the bed. Silesian

The fertile field becomes sterile without rest. Spanish

A much-played fiddle sounds better.
(i.e. said about women.) Russian

It is safe fighting where there is no enemy. German

If you cannot say it point to it with your fingers. French

If I have lost the ring I still have the fingers. Italian

All the fingers are not alike.

Even the ten fingers cannot be of equal length. Chinese

He must have clean fingers who would blow another’s nose. Danish

Just two ends and the middle and all will be finished. Serbian

A wooden pot cannot be often put on the fire.
(i.e. deceit cannot be frequently repeated.) Indian

You may poke a man’s fire after you’ve known him seven years, but not before. English

Thou kindlist the fire and criest “Fire.” Arabic

You can hide the fire, but what are you going to do with the smoke. Negro

He who has no fire in himself cannot warm others. Swiss

To escape from fire men will plunge into boiling water. Chinese

Fire when small is a friend, but when large is an enemy. Malayan

The first litter of puppies had better be drowned.
(i.e. one’s first effort is seldom good.) Russian

No man cries “Stinking fish.” English

Fish begins to stink from its head.
(i.e. corruption comes from the upper classes.) Slovenian

Where there are no fish, even a crawfish calls himself a fish. Russian

Where there is no fish herring is fish. Dutch

It is in vain to look for yesterday’s fish in the house of the otter. Indian

Catching fish is not the whole of fishing. English

Better are small fish than an empty dish. English

The fish that has to live in the water should not make an enemy of the alligator. India

It is a silly fish that is caught twice with the same bait. English

It is not a fish until it is on the bank. Irish

Don’t go fishing to a famous stream. Italian

A tattered flag brings more honor than a whole one. German

One must flatter the dog till one has reached the stones. French

Better “I fled” than “He was slain.” Welsh

He who flies proves himself guilty. Danish

Two hard flints never grind well. German

Let us have florins and we shall find cousins. Italian

You raise flowers for a year; you see them for but ten days. Chinese

To look for a fly in your food means that you have had enough. Bantu

What will a foe not say? What enters not into a dream? Turkestan

A fog cannot be dispelled by a fan. Japanese

It is folly to put flour in the bag facing the wind. German

A nod from a lord is a breakfast for a fool. English

To be a fool at the right moment is also an art. Swiss

A fool can ask questions that wise men cannot answer.

What the fool does in the end, the wise men does at the beginning. English

When a fool does not succeed in bleaching ebony he tries to blacken ivory. Abyssinian

There is no need to fasten a bell to a fool, he is sure to tell his own tale. Danish

To argue with a fool is as if to bring the dead to life. Burmese

The praise of a fool is censure in disguise.

When a fool is told a proverb, the meaning of it has to be explained to him. Sudanic

To argue with a fool is as if to bring the dead to life. Burmese

When a fool is told a proverb, the meaning of it has to be explained to him. Sudanic

A fool may throw a stone into a well, which a hundred wise men cannot pull out. English

Arguing with a fool shows there are two.

He is a fool that thinks not that another thinks. English

The fool vomits, the wise man swallows.
(i.e. the first tells all his thoughts, the latter keeps them to himself.) Indian

Every fool wants to give advice. Italian

The fool who owns an ox is seldom recognized. Bantu

Learned fools are the greatest of all fools. German

A white wall is a fool’s paper. English

In the book of fools one must write with a stick. German

Everyone must wear out a pair of fool’s shoes. German

If you want to get into the bog, ask five fools the way to the wood. Livonian

If fools want not to market, bad wares would not be sold. English

Because there are fools, wise men look well. Japanese

If all fools wore white caps, we should look like a flock of geese. English

He who carries a basket of lime leaves footprints wherever he stops. Chinese

One doesn’t forbid water to him who has dug the well. Bantu

Forbidden goods find many buyers. Russian

Force will never be without a place to sit down. Sudanic

Who is forced to go to church will not pray. Slovenian

A foreign language is more easily learnt in the kitchen than at school. German

He who could foresee affairs three days in advance would be rich for thousands of years. Chinese

Some men go through a forest and see no firewood. English

“I have forgotten thy name” is better than “I know thee not.” Sudanic

A fortress that is not attacked has no need of defense. French

Fortunate people have children three months after marriage. Latin

Fortune gives her hand to a brave man.

Fortune sells what we think she gives. French

If you study what a fowl eats, you won’t eat it. Bantu

Here is a little fowl trying to lay a big egg. Sudanic

In a court of fowls the cockroach never wins his case.
(i.e. the verdict of a dominant race against a subject race is always unfair.) Sudanic

Cut a fowl’s throat with a knife and a man’s with cotton.
(i.e. soft words.) Malayan

The fox believes that everyone eats hens like himself. French

If a fox has a tooth left he won’t be pious. Bulgarian

A fox should not be on the jury at a goose’s trial. English

When the fox starts preaching, look to your hens. Basque

“It is not for my own sake,” said the fox, “that I say to the geese, that there is a good goose green in the wood.” Danish

“Good day to you all,” said the fox when he got into the goose pen. Dutch

At last the foxes all meet at the furriers. Italian

The fox’s last hole is the furrier’s shop. Armenian

Those who have free seats at the play hiss first. Chinese

All are not free who mock their chains. German

He freezes who does not burn. English

The friar preached against stealing and had a goose in his sleeve. English

A friar who asks alms for God’s sake, begs for two. Spanish

It is rest to take trouble for a friend. Persian

When a friend asks, there is no tomorrow. English

A friend at one’s back is a safe bridge. Dutch

The man who is a friend doesn’t think it necessary to tell you when he swallows his saliva. Bantu

It’s no loss what a friend gets. Scottish

A humble friend in the same village is better than sixteen influential brothers in the Royal Palace. Chinese

A friend is a heart in two bodies. Spanish

An old friend is a new house. English

What you give to a friend is not lost. Polish

To give to thy friend is not to cast away, it is store for the future. Bantu

If your friend is one-eyed, look at him in profile. French

You do not know who is your friend or who is your enemy until the ice breaks. Icelandic

A friend that you buy with presents will be bought from you.

Though a man has actually less wisdom than his friend, the friend treats him as though he had more. Sudanic

A friend to everybody is a friend to nobody. English

When you are on friendly terms, settle your disputes in a friendly way; when you are at war, redress your injuries by violence. Australasian

One has always strength enough to bear the misfortunes of one’s friends. English

One is only betrayed by one’s own friends. Flemish

Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by friends. Czech

Friends are the nearest relations. English

Amongst soldiers and friends compliments are superfluous. Spanish

Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet. Chinese

A friend’s frown is better than a fool’s smile. English

Admonish your friends in private, praise them in public. English

There are three kinds of friends in the world: friends who love you, friends who hate you, and friends who don’t trouble about you. German

To die with friends is a nuptial. Persian

To have friends is good, but not to have to use them is better. Swiss

He who is judge between two friends loses one of them. French

Friends need no formal invitation. English

When men are really friends, then even water is sweet. Chinese

They who advise weeping are one’s friends; they who advise laughing are strangers. India

Friends tie their purse with a cobweb thread. Italian

With friends we must do until we can do no more, and pay until nothing is left us. Spanish

They are not all friends who grin showing their teeth. Negro

Mutual confidence is the pillar of friendship. Chinese

A broken friendship may be soldered, but will never be sound. English

Don’t make it a dog’s friendship, to be broken over a bone. Malay

There can be no friendship where there is no freedom.

Friendship with the good is permanent; even when broken, the fibres of the lotus-stalks are connected. Burmese

Friendships multiply joys, and divide griefs. English

The frog does not bite because it cannot. Italian

It is easy to drive a frog into the water. Serbian

The frog saw they were shoeing the ox and lifted up its leg too. Bulgarian

He who plants a walnut tree, expects not to eat of the fruit. English

He that would eat the fruit must climb the tree.

Fuel alone will not light a fire. Chinese

Fuel is not sold in the forest, nor fish on the shore of a lake. Chinese

Funeral sermon, lying sermon. German

Fury provides arms. Latin

The future belongs to him who knows how to wait. Russian


A gallant man needs no drums to rouse him.

The first night is worst on the gallows. Finnish

More people go to heaven from the gallows than from the cemetery. German

If you believe in gambling, in the end you will sell your house. Chinese

It is a bad game where nobody wins. Italian

Knocking over a game-keeper is not knocking over a man; it is crushing a principle. French

Our last garment is made without pockets. Italian

We gave him milk to drink, he became a partner in the cow.
(i.e. we gave him an inch, he took an ell.) Semitic

Geese are plucked as long as the feathers last. Dutch

Roast geese don’t come flying into the mouth. Dutch

The blood of the soldier makes the glory of the general. English

One bad general is better than two good ones. English

A single general’s reputation is made of ten thousand corpses. Chinese

Fraud lurks in generalities. Latin

If a gentleman hears himself abused he pours water in one ear and puts cotton in the other. Bantu

It will not do to go berrying with the gentry; they take both berries and baskets. Estonian

He that is giddy thinks the world turns around. English

No purchase is as good as a gift. French

A gift long waited for is sold, not given. English

Half-breeds call themselves Gorgio among the Gorgios and Gipsy among the Gipsies. Romany

When you cut a Gipsy in ten pieces you have not killed him, you have only made ten Gipsies. Romany

As long as the Gipsy has tongs, he will not burn his fingers. Bulgarian

Give a grateful man more than he asks. Portuguese

To be slow to give and to refuse are the same thing. French

Let him who exhorts others to give, give of his own. Latin

Don’t give it to me, put it in my hat. Peru

Better give than have to give. Italian

He who is given (something) does not choose. Spanish

Who gives at once gives twice. Russian

He gives double who gives unasked. Arabic

He gives twice who gives quickly. English

The glass says to the stone, “Break me, but silently.”
(i.e. without scandal.) Kurdish

More people are drowned in the glass than in the sea. Russian

A white glove often conceals a dirty hand. Italian

No glue will hold when the joint is bad. English

He who has to go ten miles must regard size as only half way. German

What the world does not want is sacrificed to God. German

Where God does not help, no saint avails. German

The friend of God is the enemy of the priest. German

Why deny to God what the saints know?
(i.e. why not tell an open secret.) Breton

The true goddess was recognized by her walk. Latin

He talks gold but pays copper. English

Pure gold does not fear the furnace. Chinese

He who looks fixedly at gold loses his sight. Dutch

We must not look for a golden life in an iron age. English

He who does no good does evil enough. English

Many a time a good man fell on a cow dung. Irish

A good man is better than anything else. Chinese

There is many a good man to be found under a shabby hat. Chinese

Make much of one, good men are scarce. English

Rather go rob with good men than pray with bad. Portuguese

Amongst good men two men suffice. English

If you do not ask their help, all men are good-natured. Chinese

Tell good news. Bantu

Good news is rumoured, bad news flies. Spanish

He that brings good news knocks hard. English

A good thing sells itself; a bad thing wants advertising. Bantu

Go shoe the goose. English

Steal the goose and give the giblets in alms. English

You must walk a long time behind a wild goose before you find an ostrich feather.

Don’t kill the old goose in sight of the feather bed. Negro

It is a silly goose that comes to the fox’s sermon. English

Pluck the goose without making it scream. French

Standing gossips stay the longest. English

Who gossips to you will gossip of you. Turkish

He works with the Government stroke.
(i.e. takes a long time.) English

Nine-storied terraces rise by a gradual accumulation of bricks. Chinese

Grapes derive their color from grapes. Persian

When grasping, grasp firmly; when squeezing, squeeze to death; when aiming, aim unswervingly. Siamese

While the grass grows the horse starves. English

He who builds on the favor of the great, advances towards fortune mounted on a crab. German

The great have ears, not eyes.
(i.e. they must trust others.) Afghanistan

Of the great speak neither well nor ill, for if you speak well, you lie; and if ill, you place yourself in danger. Spanish

Do not lend your money to a great man. French

A great man’s entreaty is a command. Spanish

A great man’s foolish sayings pass for wise ones. English

With great men one must allow five to be an easy number. German

Whom great men wrong, they hate. English

There would be no great ones if there were no little ones. English

A great ship must have deep water. English

When you shake hands with a Greek, count your fingers. Albanian

A grey head is often placed on green shoulders. English

A greyhound finds its food in its feet. Irish

The seats in heaven which are prepared for good guardians are still vacant. Czech

The guest likes the bread which his host likes. Indian

A guest sees more in an hour than the host in a year. Polish

The guest who came in the morning welcomes the guest who comes in the evening.
(i.e. he behaves as though he were at home.) Sudanic

The guest who has broken the pot is not forgotten. Bantu

If a man does not receive guests at home, he will meet very few hosts abroad. Chinese

Let the guests at table be three or four – at most five. Greek

The guide ought to know every part of the mountain, the traveller need only know the path.

The tenth man is guilty. Russian
(i.e. when the guilty man is unknown)

He declares himself guilty who justifies himself before accusation. English

When they roast a guinea-fowl, the partridge has a headache. Sudanic


A hair’s breadth at the bow is a mile beside the butt. Chinese

A golden hammer breaks an iron gate.

I believe in what I hold in my hand. Czech

I don’t want it, but drop it into my hand. Spanish

You can’t clap with one hand. Chinese

Where the hand cannot grasp, thought begins. German

Without fingers the hand would be a spoon. Sudanic

If the hand would do what the tongue says there would be no poverty. Indian

A new handle blisters the hands.
(i.e. a new chief through ignorance causes his subjects to suffer.) Bantu

Where hands are required words and letters are useless. German

He has both hands full of cakes.
(i.e. he’s unable to do anything.) Japanese

A handsaw is a good thing, but not to shave with. English

How easily a hair gets into the butter. German

He that is not handsome at twenty, nor strong at thirty, nor rich at forty, nor wise at fifty, will never be handsome, strong, rich or wise. English

He that is born to be hanged shall never be drowned. English

When a man is happy he does not hear the clock strike. German

Hares may pull down dead lions by the beard. English

If you run after two hares, you will catch neither. English

He that hath a good harvest may be content with some thistles. Scottish

He who has not is the enemy of him who has. Bantu

The life of an old hat is to cock it. Irish

A hatchet is a key for any lock. French

Send not for a hatchet to break open an egg with.

If you hate a man, let him live. Japanese

If a man hates you, give him a fork to drink soup. Negro

He who would have the last drop out of a can has the lid fall on his nose. German

I am speaking of hay and you of horse corn. Scottish

When hay follows the horse it wants to be eaten. German

When the head is knocked off, it is all over with dreams. Sudanic

He on whose head we would break a coco-nut never stands still. Sudanic

If you cannot heal the wound do not tear it open. Danish

To hear it told is not equal to experience. Chinese

He who will not hear must feel. German

He does not hear what he does not like. Irish

“I heard” is not as good as “I saw.” Chinese

Hear-say is half lies. German

A stout heart crushes ill luck. Spanish

What comes from the heart goes to the heart. English

When the heart is full the mouth vomits. Maltese

Nearest the heart, nearest the mouth. Scottish

When there is room in the heart, there is room in the house. Danish

When the heart undertakes, the body is its slave. Hamitic

Hearts may agree, though heads differ. English

I like his heels better than his toes.
(i.e. would rather see him go than come.) Walloon

Men of a certain height must wear clothes of a certain length. Chinese

There are people who will help you get your basket on your head because they want to see what’s in it. Sudanic

When one is helping another both are strong. German

Three, helping each other, will bear the burden of six. Spanish

Pick up the hen and you can gather all her chickens. Sudanic

It is no good hen that cackles in your house and lays in another. 

In the eyes of the hen the worm is always in the wrong. 

To the real hero life is a mere straw. Indian

Heroism consists in hanging on one minute longer. Norwegian

Don’t cry “herrings” till they are in the net. English

Hide mends itself, but cloth has to be mended. Chilean

In high society one marries one woman, lives with another, but
 leaves only oneself. Italian

The hippopotamus that shows itself doesn’t upset the boat. 

Hit him hard; he has no friends. English

If hit, hit back and don’t stop to consider whether you be
 committing a sin or a virtue. Indian

The hog never looks up to him that threshes down the acorns.

A hog that has wallowed in the mud seeks a clean person to 
rub against. Sudanic

A strainer is none the worse for having another hole. Arabic

A hole here and there is not the same as a window. Bantu

Honest as the cat when the meat is out of reach.

An honest man is not the worse because a dog barks at him. 

They are all honest men, but my cloak is not to be found. 

Every man is honest till the day they catch him. Negro

Honey in the mouth saves the purse. English

Though honey is sweet, do not lick it off a briar. Irish

He who shareth honey with the bear hath the least part of it. 

Honor and profit lie not in one sack. English

The post of honor is the post of danger. Roman

He gainst much who loses a vain hope. Italian

He that lives on hope hath a slender diet. Scottish

Hope is a good breakfast but a poor supper. Czech

Hope is the poor man’s bread. English

Let the horns go with the hide. English

All lay load on the willing horse. English

One should put the saddle on the right horse. German

One thing thinketh the horse, and another he that saddles him. 

A horse has four legs, yet it often falls.
(i.e. a man is fallible.) Bantu

A borrowed horse has hard hoofs. Irish

The trotting horse hears not the story-teller’s yarn.
(i.e. busy people are too occupied to listen.) Chinese

He who has a good horse in his stable is not ashamed to go on
 foot. Italian

Who hath no horse may ride on a staff. English

Without horse, no Cossack. Russian

A handsome horse should have a head like a maiden, a chest
 like a widow, and a foot like a baby. Polish

It is hard to water a horse which does not hold down his head. 

Set a peasant on horseback and he forgets both God and man. Spanish

The man on horseback knows nothing of the toil of the traveller on foot. Chinese

He who is on horseback no longer knows his own brother. Russian

Good horses make short miles. English

Then man who is bad for entertainment or hospitality is good for 
directing you on the road. Irish

It is a sin against hospitality, to open your doors and shut your 
countenance. English

An hour may destroy what an age was building. English

Since the house is on fire let us warm ourselves. Spanish

Thank God that the right side of the house is out. (Said on a stormy day.) Irish

He set my house on fire only to roast his eggs. English

To throw the house out the window.
(i.e. to raise a commotion.) English

Who else could the housefly take sides with other than the 
person afflicted with sores? Sudanic

Adjoining houses always burn. Bantu

There is but an hour in a day between a good housewife and a 
bad. English

The greatest humiliation for a man is to give proofs that he is a man. Spanish

False humility is genuine arrogance. Chinese

Too much humility is pride. German

Do not trust a Hungarian unless he has a third eye on his
 forehead. Czech

Not to empty one’s stomach doesn’t help against hunger. 

The full belly doesn’t believe in hunger. Italian

Hunger and cold deliver a man up to his enemy. English

Hunger becomes the teacher of many. Greek

Hunger breaks stone walls. English

Hunger doesn’t say “stale bread,” and cold doesn’t say “old
 coat.” Georgian

Hunger is a finger which points out the fruit on the tree to the
 blind man. Russian

Hunger is an infidel. Arabic

Whatever satisfies hunger is good food. Chinese

Hunger makes raw beans into almonds. German

Hunger sees nothing but bread. Bulgarian

A hungry eye sees far. Irish

Hungry gnats sting deep. German

For the hungry “wait” is a hard word.

A hungry man discovers more than a hundred lawyers. Spanish

The smile on a hungry man’s face is a lie. Polish

The hunt is a masculine ball and the ball is a feminine hunt. 

He who hurries cannot walk with dignity. Chinese

Dress slowly when you are in a hurry. French

Hold your hurry in your hand. Irish

Don’t stay long when the husband is not at home. Japanese

Don’t show a hyena how well you can bite. Hamitic


Idle folks have the least leisure. English

A maker of idols is never an idolator. Chinese

“If and “when” were planted and nothing grew up. Turkish

“If” was married to “but,” and the offspring was named “Oh,
 would that.” Persian

It is human ignorance alone which causes the pot to boil for 
 priests. French

He that does you a very ill turn will never forgive you. English

An image-maker never worships the Buddha. Chinese

The impossible requires no excuse. Dutch

Illness gives you the taste of health. Hungarian

The tepid water of incredulity acts as an emetic on secrets.

An indictment cannot be got up without lies. Chinese

One finds but little ingratitude so long as one is in a position to
 do good. French

He whom it touches nearest always learns his injury last. 

A good memory does not equal pale ink. Chinese

The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory. 

An innkeeper never worries if your appetite is good. Chinese

It is a mark of insincerity of purpose to spend one’s time in 
 looking for the sacred emperor in the low-class tea-shops. 

A man must insult himself before others will. Chinese

For an intelligent man, one word, and he understands. Chinese

Many have good intentions but something comes across them. 

Interest will not lie. English

Every man is the best interpreter of his own words. German

Iron long fired becomes steel. Chinese

Ivory does not grow in the mouth of a dog. Chinese


In August was the jackal born and in September saw he a flood and said “Never in my life have I seen such a flood.” Indian

I have a good jacket in France. Spanish

When you make the jail too nice, you better strengthen the hog pen. Negro

Better lose a jest than a friend. English

They that jest with cats must count on scratches. Scottish

If you make a jest, you must take a jest. English

It is ill jesting with edged tools. English

Jests, like sweetmeats, have often sour sauce. English

A joke ought to have sheep’s teeth, not a dog’s. Czech

He that jokes confesses. Italian

Conversation on a journey is equal to conveyance. Indian

“I am going, I am going,” that is what makes the journey so long. Sudanic

In the midst of great joy do not promise to give a man anything; in the midst of great anger do not answer a man’s letter. Chinese

He whose father is a judge goes safe to his trial. English

When the criminal is acquitted the judge is found guilty. Latin

A dealer in onions is a good judge of leeks. French

Unless hell be full, no judge will ever be saved. Montenegrin

To him of good judgment the sound of a gnat suffices, but to him who lacks it, the noise of an orchestra availeth not. Turkish

Money and friendship break the arms of justice. Italian

Justice, but not in my house. Spanish


He that will eat the kernel must crack the nut. English

A full kettle boils slowly.
(i.e. good things come slowly.) Turkish

All the keys hang not at one man’s girdle. English

Not to aid one in distress is to kill him in your heart. Sudanic

He who kills his own body works for the worms. Negro

A single kind word keeps one warm for three winters. Chinese

If the king at noon-day says it is night, behold the stars. Arabic

The king never leaves hold until the people pull too hard for him. French

For the righteous king the whole people is an army. Persian

The king’s favor is no inheritance. English

Kings love the treason but not the traitor. English

A king’s messenger has no guilt. Bantu

It is like a kiss, good for nothing until divided. Romany

Kisses are keys. English

Frequent kisses end in a baby. Hungarian

Up to the knee is permitted. German

Even in the sheath the knife must be sharp. Finnish

One always knocks oneself on the sore place. French

When one re-knots a broken cord it holds, but one feels the
 knot. German

All knots come to the comb. Italian

There are three things which if a man does not know he cannot 
 live too long in the world: what is too much for him, what is too 
 little for him, and what is just right for him. Bantu

Those who know how to do a thing do not find it difficult; those 
 who find it difficult know not how to do it. Chinese

It is easier to know how to do a thing than to do it. Chinese

Three know it, all know it. Italian

“I know it perfectly” prevents the wasp from learning to make 
 honey. Sudanic

If people do not know much, do not laugh at them, for every one 
 of them knows something that you do not. Romany

They that know one another, salute afar off. English

The more you know, the more luck you have. Burmese

I know well what I say when I ask for bread. Spanish

You don’t know what there is in a man till you have hit him on 
 the nose. Norwegian

When you don’t know what to do, wait. English

No one is born knowing how to do more than whimper. Maltese

To know and to know you know, not to know, and to know you 
 do not know, this is knowledge. Chinese

One part of knowledge consists in being ignorant of such things 
 as are not worthy to be known.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. English

Knowledge is a wild thing and must be hunted before it can be 
 tamed. Persian

He that knows little soon repeats it. Spanish

Who knows most forgives most. Italian

Who knows nothing, doubts nothing. French

Only he who knows the cause of a quarrel knows how to 
 dispute. Sudanic


The laborer is always in the sun, the plantation owner in the 
 shade. Sudanic

Laborers are never paid. German

Often the best way of giving oneself what one lacks is to take 
 from oneself what one has. Persian

He who places his ladder too steeply will easily fall backwards. 

You a lady and I a lady, who will milk the cow? Serbian

A lame man won’t walk with one who is more lame. French

Why light a lamp if it has no wick in it?
(i.e. why cast amorous glances if you don’t mean it?) Malayan

He’s a lamp under a torch.
(i.e. one insignificant before another.) Indian

Who has land, has war. English

If the landlady’s fair, the wine too is fair. German

To murder a landlord is to remove forty sins from one’s soul. 

With each newly learned language you acquire a new soul. 

A large lantern with a small light. Flemish

We hounds slew the dear, quoth the lapdog. Scottish

Seldom is the last of anything better than the first. Irish

The later in the evening, the nicer the people. Dutch

We must laugh before we are happy, lest we should die without 
 having laughed. French

Mr. “Laugh in the eyes” – in his heart there are other things. 

He is not laughed at that laughs at himself first. English

Right is older than the law. Estonian

Show me the man and I’ll show you the law.
(i.e. to show the partiality of judges.) Scottish

Agree, for the law is costly. English

The law on the table, justice under the table. Estonian

Those who do not honor the law praise those who break it.

The law says what the king pleases. French

In a thousand pounds of law there’s not an ounce of love.

The sight of money to a law officer is like the sight of blood to a 
 fly. Chinese

He that is suffered to do more than is fitting, will do more than is 
 lawful. English

For sovereign power all laws are broken. Spanish

Laws catch flies but let hornets go free. English

Laws go where dollars please. Portuguese

It is not important who writes down the laws on paper, but it is 
 important who puts them into effect. Russian

Laws without penalties are bells without clappers. Czech

May you have a lawsuit in which you know that you are in the 
(A Gipsy curse.) Spanish

Even rest will make the lazy tired. Hungarian

Who leads an ox to drink must first wet his own feet. Chinese

One must draw back in order to leap further. French

He who would leap high must take a long run. Danish

Everyone who learned archery from me, in the end made me his
 butt. Persian

Long are the arms of a learned man. Burmese

Learning which does not advance each day will daily decrease. 

Leaves don’t spring straight from the tree, they come from the 
 buds. German

He that fears leaves must not come into a wood. English

A wooden leg is better than no leg. English

It is not much to give a leg to him who gave you the fowl. 

To be for one day entirely at leisure is to be for one day an 
 immortal. Chinese

Is it necessary to add acid to the lemon? Indian

He that lends, gives. English

A letter is half a meeting. Bantu

A liar is not believed when he speaks the truth. English

If you are a liar, recollect. Egyptian

One must follow the liar to the door of the lie. Georgian

Liars have need of good memories. English

Lean liberty is better than fat slavery. English

“They say so” is half a lie. Italian

“They say” is own brother to a lie. Bantu

The best walker is a lie. Welsh

A travelled man hath leave to lie. English

Don’t tell a shallow lie and get it scratched up by the hen with 
 one chick. Malay

At the near end of the market-square he told a lie; at the far 
 end he himself believed it. Turkish

A lie begets a lie till they come to generations. English

You can go all through the country with a lie, but if you are found 
 out, how are you going to travel back? Czech

A lie can go around the world while the truth is putting on its 

A lie has no legs. English

A lie has short legs. Italian

A lie, in order to live, requires ten others for food. German

He who tells a lie in the presence of intimates is indeed a master 
 mind. Sudanic

The credit got by a lie lasts only till the truth comes out. English

With a lie one goes far, but not back again. Yiddish

He who wishes to lie should take care that the testimony is afar 
 off. Hebrew

Give a lie twenty-four hours’ start and you can never overtake it. 

Lie you for me, and I’ll swear for you. English

Who travels alone tells lies. Sudanic

From long journeys long lies. Spanish

A tale half told is the father of many lies. Chinese

If lies are to be believed they must be patched with truth. 

Lies buzz like flies, but truth has the brilliance of the sun. Arabic

If lies were as heavy as stones to carry, many would prefer the
 truth. Swedish

He that lies on the ground cannot fall. Latin

He who lies on the ground must expect to be trodden on. 

Life is a queer man. Irish

Life is a dancing girl.

He who despises his own life is soon master of another’s. 

You lift it, I’ll do the groaning. Russian

There is more light than can be seen through the window. 

Limits and boundaries, arguments and fights. Russians

To limp on the same foot with someone.
(i.e. to share the same fault.) Spanish

The lioness bears but one cub – but it is a lion. Montenegrin

Do not raise lion cubs in a city. Persian

A man is a lion in his own cause. English

What is said over a dead lion is not said in the eyes of a living 
 one. Negro

Through lack of a lion the fox will ascend to the throne. Welsh

It is a base thing to tear a dead lion’s beard off.

A lion’s skin is never cheap. English

The lower lip scorns the upper lip.
(i.e. the pot calls the kettle black.) Hamitic

Listen at the key-hole and you’ll hear news of yourself.

Listen to all, plucking a feather from every passing goose, but 
 follow no one absolutely. Chinese

Listen to what they say of others and you will know what they 
 say of you. Cuban

What little John has learned old John cannot unlearn. Slovakian

A little pot is soon hot.
(i.e. a small man angers quickly.) English

When men speak ill of thee, live so nobody may believe them.

One must live so that others can live too. Russian

What is really a load should not be called an ornament. Sudanic

A slice off a cut loaf is never missed. Negro

If you give the loan of your breeches, don’t cut off the buttons.

There is no lock if the pick is of gold. Spanish

A lock is only made for an honest man.
(i.e. it is no protection against thieves.) Yiddish

Long is not forever. German

He who turns to look a second time will lose nothing. Chinese

Of two lookers-on one is sure to become a player. German

Lookers-on see eight pieces ahead of the players. Japanese

He who has his nail torn off his fingers looks at it often. Italian

No one looks for another behind the door if he has not hidden 
 himself there first. German

A man cannot be known by his looks, nor can the sea be 
 measured with a bushel basket. Chinese

He only loosed the tent peg. Egyptian

His Lordship has promised me a fur coat and already I feel 
 warm. Polish

Losers are always in the wrong. Spanish

Let that which is lost be for God. Spanish

The value of lost goods is always weighed with double weights.

He who has lost his oxen is always hearing bells. Spanish

When you come out twice by the same tree you have lost your 
 way. Sudanic

“We two have much to think about,” said the louse on the head 
 of the philosopher. German

One does not love another if one does not accept anything from
 him. Sudanic

Whom we love best, to them we can say least. English

You may condemn the one you love, but you pay his fine for him. 

One buys and sells love for love. German

If Jack’s in love, he’s no judge of Jill’s beauty. English

Love is like soup, the first mouthful is very hot, and the ones 
 that follow become gradually cooler. Spanish

The anger of those in love is like the spider’s web. Italian

Love is one-eyed, but hate is blind. German

Faults are thick where love is thin. English

Love makes time pass, and time makes love pass. German

It is only the truly virtuous man who can love, or who can hate, 
 others. Chinese

As the best wine makes the sharpest vinegar, so the deepest 
 love turns to the deadliest hatred. English

Love yourself, then you will have no rivals. Estonian

I never loved them that find fault with my shoes, and give me no 
 leather. Scottish

Lovers always think that other people have had their eyes put 
 out. Spanish

Were you as black as a mulberry, you are white for him who
 loves you. French

Write down the advice of him who loves you, though you like it 
 not at present. Italian

When my luck is harder my mouth is bolder. Finnish

Luck is loaned and not owned. Norwegian

Luck will carry a man across the brook if he is not too lazy to 
 leap. Danish

Pitch the lucky man into the Nile and he will come up with a fish 
 in his mouth. Arabic


An honest magistrate cannot succeed. Chinese

The magistrate’s so gets out of every scrape. Spanish

A maid that laughs is half taken. English

The malt’s above the meal.
(i.e. too much to drink.) Scottish

He who rides in the chair is a man; he who carries the chair is 
 also a man. Chinese

Man is harsher than iron, harder than stone, and more delicate
 than a rose. Turkish

A man is what he is, but not what he was. Yiddish

The man of birth pouts not with his cheeks, he pouts in his 
 heart. Bantu

The mantis seizes the locust but does not see the yellow bird 
 behind him. Chinese

Game is cheaper in the market than in the fields and woods.

To eat and drink, and sleep together is marriage, methinks. 

If you always say “no,” you’ll never be married. Scottish

Before a young couple gets married, the devil wears out seven 
 pairs of moccasins. Estonian

Never marry for money, you’ll borrow it cheaper. Scottish

He who cannot see the master, flatters the servant. German

Who can prevent the master from catching fleas with his gloves
 on? Russian

The master has got a cold in the head, and all the servants
 sneeze. Polish

He who eats pears with his master should not choose the best.

He who has two masters to serve must lie to one of them. 

Mastery mows the meadows down. Scottish

What may be, may not be. Scottish

Every may-be hath a may-be not. English

Folks sometimes get a good meal out of a dirty dish.
(i.e. a good article from a tainted source.) Scottish

Without measure medicine will become poison. Polish

No medicine can cure a vulgar man. Chinese

Medicine that is mixed with food, even if it doesn’t cure the
 disease, will cure hunger. Sudanic

Mediocrity is climbing molehills without sweating. Icelandic

When you casually meet a man, say three short words; by no 
 means show him all your heart. Chinese

When the melon is ripe, it will drop of itself. Chinese

From the roof of a house a melon may roll either of two ways. Chinese

A melon-seller never cries “bitter melons” nor a wine-seller “thin wine.” Chinese

Bad memory has its roots in bad attention.

By nature all men are alike, but by education widely different.

Among ten men, nine are women. Turkish

When a wool merchant speaks of sheep he means cloth. 

A merry man has paid half of his expenses. German

You’d be a good messenger to send for death.
(Said to one who loiters.) Irish

The land where mice eat iron.
(i.e. great poverty.) Greek

It takes a good many mice to kill a cat. Danish

It cannot be later than midnight.
(i.e. it cannot be worse.) Burmese

At midnight one seems to have a thousand devices; by daylight
 not a move can be made. Chinese

Where there are two midwives, the baby’s head is crooked. 

Where there’s no might, there’s no right. Portuguese

Every mile is two in winter. English

Nothing turns sourer than milk. English

Put a miller, a weaver, and a tailor in a bag and shake them, the
 first that comes out will be a thief.

That miller is honest who has hair on his teeth. German

What is bolder than a miller’s neckcloth, which takes a thief by
 the throat every morning? German

As many millers, so many bushels – as many parsons, so many 
 creeds. Czech

Peace would be universal, if there were neither mine nor thine. 

“Mine” and “thine” divide the world. Polish

Lawyers will live as long as “mine” and thine” exist. German

“Mine and thine” is the source of all lawsuits. Dutch

Without “mine and thine” the world would be heaven. German

Men would live exceedingly quiet if those two words, “mine and 
 thine” were taken away.

A mirror eats up asses and spits out fools. German

The miser and the pig are of no use till dead. French

Misery acquaints men with strange bedfellows. English

There is a piece of fortune in misfortune. Japanese

Misfortune makes foes of friends. English

When misfortune sleeps let no one wake her. Spanish

The misfortune that involves many is a pleasure. Spanish

He who makes no mistakes, makes nothing. English

If the mistress breaks, it is an accident; if the servant breaks, it 
 is a fault. Kurdish

When the cup is broken by the mistress of the house, one hears 
 no noise. Kurdish

There is a critical moment for all things. English

The monastery faces the convent; there is nothing going on – 
 but there may be. Chinese

If you have money at all you say it is gospel truth. Chinese

Money does not get hanged. German

Money does not smell. Russian

Money hides a thousand deformities. Chinese

Money is more eloquent than a dozen members of parliament.

Money is the god of the world. English

Money is the only monarch. English

To have money is to add on thirty year’s dignity. Chinese

He that is without money might as well be buried in a rice tub
 with his mouth sewed up. Chinese

With money you are a dragon; without it you are a worm.

It doesn’t matter whether you are right or not, if you have no 
 money you are wrong. Chinese

Though you set a monkey on horseback, yet will his hands and 
 feet remain hairy. Chinese

The monkeys laugh at each other’s deep eye-sockets. Bantu

Everybody does what he can; dogs bark, wolves howl, and 
 monks lie. German

The most lasting monuments are doubtless paper monuments. 

The full moon is a poor hand to keep secrets. Negro

You cannot coax the morning glory to climb the wrong way round 
 the cornstalks. Negro

A mosquito feels no pity for an emaciated person. Sudanic

Every beetle is a gazelle in the eyes of its mother. Semitic

His mother an onion, his father garlic, himself comes out 
 conserve of rose. Turkish

See the mother, comprehend the daughter. Afghanistan

The mother is she who catches the knife by the blade. Bantu

That which reaches the father’s knees reaches to the mother’s
 heart. Silesian

A mother’s love will draw up from the depths of the sea. 

What is sucked in with the mother’s milk runs out in the shroud. 

Better to look from the mountain than from the dungeon. 

If you don’t climb the high mountain, you can’t view the plain. 

Can a mouse fall in love with a cat? English

The mouse will have a tail.
(i.e. the thing will have a long train of consequences.)

Let not the mouse-trap smell of cheese. English

“Mr. Mouth” hurt his master. Bantu

The mouth is but wind; the pen is a mark. Chinese

A silent mouth is musical. Irish

He that hath a mouth of his own should not say to another, 

A man must keep his mouth open a long time before a roast 
 pigeon will fly into it. Danish

Once in people’s mouths, ‘tis hard to get out of them. German

He who wants a mule without fault must walk on foot. Spanish

Take not a musket to kill a butterfly. English

Must is a king’s word.


Drive the nail that goes the best. English

When one is naked it is better to sit down than to stand up. 

He that hath the name may as well enjoy the game. English

Get a name to rise early, and you may lie all day. English

A narrow place is large to the narrow-minded. Turkestan

Nine is very near to ten.
(i.e. an exhortation to patience.) Bantu

“Nearly” and “next to” pull no man off his horse. Danish

In things necessary, unity; in things doubtful, liberty; in all 
 things, charity. Latin

Necessity becomes will. Italian

Necessity breaks iron.

When necessity declares she will live with you, you reply, “There 
 is no room.” Have you forgotten that she can make room for 
 herself even on the very tip of your nose? Sudanic

Necessity unites hearts. German

Necessity will teach the old to run. Welsh

Need teaches things unlawful.

No needle is sharp at both ends.
(i.e. no man is talented in every direction.) Chinese

Where goes the needle, there goes the thread. Russian

A needle with a small eye should be threaded slowly.
(i.e. children should be taught gently and patiently.) Siamese

The Negro has a rib and a cup of blood more than the white 

If a man would know what he is let him anger his neighbor. 

I speak to you, O daughter-in-law, that you may hear, O 
 neighbor. Egyptian

Does your neighbor bore you, lend him a sequin. Italian

The neighbor calls on the day when I have not done my hair. 

Shut your door and you will make your neighbor good. Spanish

When a neighbor is in your fruit-garden inattention is the truest 
 politeness. Chinese

The house of the one who does not help to put out his 
 neighbor’s fire will soon be in danger. Polish

A small piece seems a big piece in your neighbor’s hand.

Lock your doors and keep your neighbors honest. Scottish

It is not as thy mother says, but as thy neighbors say. English

In vain the net is spread in the sight of the bird. English

Better go home and make a net than dive into a pool after a 
 fish. Chinese

Do not take hold of a nettle, but if you do, grasp it tight. 

He that handles a nettle tenderly is soonest stung. English

Neutrals are soused from above and singed from below. 

Neutrals think to read on eggs and break none. German

A hundred years is not much, but never is a long while. French

Nothing is so new as what has long been forgotten. German

It is almost as good as bringing news not to bring bad news. 

He was scarce of news that told his father was hanged. 

He who is always nice is not always nice. Polish

The words of the night are coated with butter; as soon as the
 sun shines they melt away. Egyptian

If the night be dark, the apples will be counted.
(i.e. folk take precautions when danger threatens.) 

Dark night has no governor. Negro

Last night I thought over a thousand plans, but this morning I 
 went my old way. Chinese

Midsummer night is not long but it sets many cradles rocking. 

The night is the mother of advice. Corsican

“No” is a good answer when given in time. Danish

Don’t say “no” till you are asked. English

The nobleman is always in the right when the peasant sues. 

Noise and hunting don’t go together. Hamitic

One cannot breathe through another’s nose. Burmese

The man with nostrils is “Mr. Nose” among the noseless. Indian

An inch in a man’s nose is much. English

He whose own nose runs always wants to blow other people’s. 

Everything that is round is not a nut. Persian


He has an oar in every man’s boat. English

Every sore-eyed person is an oculist. German

Who offends writes on sand, who is offended on marble. Italian

It is best to let an offence repeat itself at least three times; the 
 first offence may be an accident; the second a mistake, but the 
 third is likely to be intentional. Sudanic

They that buy an office must sell something. English

Office without pay makes thieves. German

To be an official for one lifetime means seven rebirths as a 
 beggar. Chinese

The friendship of officials is as thin as paper. Chinese

Going downhill no one is old. Japanese

All wish to live long, but not to be called old. Danish

It is when old that the blows received in youth are felt. Welsh

Old age and poverty are two heavy burdens, either is enough. 

An old broom knows the corners of the house. German

If you see an old man running, either he is chasing something or 
 something is chasing him. Sudanic

In old men there is no taste, in young no insight. Hebrew

It is no child’s play when an old woman dances. German

Once is never. German

Once is not often and twice is not always. German

“At once” is two hours and a half. Scottish

Be it an onion, let it be given graciously. Afghanistan

Not every opinion is truth. Czech

Live not upon the opinion of other men. English

Seize the opportunity by the beard, for it is bald behind. 

Order, counter-order, disorder. French

Give orders and do it yourself and you will be rid of anxiety. 

Give orders and do no more and nothing will be done. Spanish

He who manages other people’s business goes to bed without 
 supper. Italian

He swallowed an ox but choked on the tail. English

The ox lives safely as long as the knife is being sharpened. 

He who greases his wheels helps his oxen. English

When Oxford draws knife, England’s soon at strife. English

The owl, too, thinks his son a hawk. Hungarian

Every man thinks his own fleas gazelles. Arabic

Under one’s own skin runs blood; under the skin of others, 
 water. Finnish

You may call that your own which no one can take from you. 

One hand for the owner and one for yourself. English

The owner has one house, the renter a thousand. Turkish

The foot of the owner is the best manure for the land. English


A bad padlock invites a picklock.

People paid in advance have broken arms. French

He who hides his pain finds no cure. Turkish

Painters and poets have leave to lie. English

There is no making pancakes without breaking the eggs. Italian

Paper does not blush. Italian

Paper is patient. French

The fairer the paper, the fouler the blot. English

You can’t use paper to wrap up fire. Chinese

One cannot enter Paradise in spite of the saints. Italian

Never ask pardon before you are accused. English

In every pardon there is love. Welsh

A city that parleys is half gotten. Scottish

He who carries his head between his ears needs no passport. 

Without the past we never could have had the present. 

The best patch is off the same cloth. Spanish

Patience and the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown. Chinese

Who has patience may get fat thrushes at a farthing apiece. 

An hour’s patience will procure a long period of rest. Arabian

The purse of the patient protracts his cure. German

Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. English

Who pays well is well served. German

Who holds his peace and gathers stones, will find a time to
 throw them. Portuguese

If you wish for peace, be prepared for war. English

A cake eaten in peace is worth two in trouble. English

Peace without truth is poison. German

The pear falls under the pear tree. Albanian

Those who wear pearls do not know how often the shark bites 
 the leg of the diver. Abyssinian

No shears cut closer than when a peasant becomes a nobleman. 

The peasant carries the sack, whatever you put in it. Russian

The Pope and the peasant know more than the Pope alone. 

If I peddle salt it rains, if I peddle flour, the wind blows.
(i.e. unlucky.) Japanese

It is easy to curse the pedestrian when you are on horseback. 

He who peeps through a hole may see what will vex him. 

A pen and ink are the best witnesses. Portuguese

Every one hath a penny for a new alehouse. English

We are people because of other people. Bantu

Perhaps hinders folks from lying. French

All is not lost that is in peril. English

He who recognizes the disease is the physician. Bantu

A physician is an angel when employed, but a devil when one 
 must pay him. English

An inexperienced physician makes a humpy churchyard. Czech

The sick man is the garden of the physicians. Bantu

Physicians and judges murder with impunity. Russian

Where there are three physicians, there are two atheists. Latin

Pictures are the books of the unlearned. English

If you pull one pig by the tail all the rest squeak. Dutch

He that has but one pig easily fattens it. Italian

In the time of need the pig is called uncle. Albanian

Pigs fly in the air with their tails forward.
(i.e. said after hearing an unlikely story.) English

A pilgrimage does not make a man a saint. Danish

In a calm sea every man is a pilot. German

A good pilot is not known when the sea is calm and the weather
 fair. Danish

The paleness of the pilot is a sign of a storm. English

It is not in the pilot’s power to prevent the wind from blowing. 

The point of a pin is the easiest one to find. Negro

The pine wishes herself a shrub when the axe is at her root. 

He that touches pitch shall be defiled. English

Whether the pitcher strikes the stone, or the stone the pitcher, 
 it is bad for the pitcher. English

He that pities another remembers himself. Scottish

A pitiful look asks enough. English

Sit in your place, and none can make you rise. Scottish

The plaintiff should be heard once, the defendant twice. 

When you have the plate and spoon, there is no soup. 

An hour of play discovers more than a year of conversation. 

He has a good pledge of the cat who has her skin. French

He who ploughs from West to East loses a loaf in every furrow.
(i.e. the sun cannot shine on both sides of the furrow.) Italian

The great poet must be either gifted or exiled. Bosnian

Poison should be tried out on a frog. Bantu

There are no miracles in politics. Maga

When you go into politics put on your old trousers. German

The poor cannot, the rich will not. German

The poor do penance for the follies of their superiors. Italian

To the poor even the wedding night is short. Polish

The poor lives as the wet burns. Finnish

In the house of the poor one does not untie one’s packet.
(i.e. so as not to be obliged to give.) Bantu

“I have had it” is a poor man. German

The poor man and the fire do not like to be poked. Hamitic

If the poor man associates with the rich, he will soon have no
 trousers to wear. Chinese

A poor man doubles labors. Basque

A poor man is hungry after eating. Portuguese

When a poor man makes a proverb it does not spread abroad. 

The poor man pays for all. English

The poor man waited a thousand years before the gate of 
 Paradise, then while he snatched one little nap, it opened and
 shut. Persian

When God lets it rain, the poor man’s nettles thrive even as the 
 rich man’s roses. German

The poor man’s shilling is but a penny. Scottish

The poor man’s wisdom is as useless as a palace in a 
 wilderness. Oriental

Much wisdom is lost in poor men’s mouths. German

Poor people entertain with the heart. Negro

Bad wine is given to drive away poor relations. French

The potter eats off broken dishes. Sudanic

All is lost when the people fear death less than poverty. 

Poverty and hunger have many learned disputes. German

Poverty and wealth are twin sisters. Albanian

Poverty is a blessing hated by all men. Italian

Poverty is a garment of fire. Italian

Poverty is not a shame; but the being ashamed of it is. English

Poverty is the cow of the rich man. German

Poverty is the hands and feet of wealth. German

Poverty is the sixth sense. German

The poverty of the poor shall end when they regard the want of
 each other. Singhalese

Without practice one cannot even clean his teeth. Singhalese

Never praise a ford till you are over. English

Praise from Sir Hubert is praise indeed. English

Praise teachers while they are present; subordinates when their 
 work is done, and friends when absent. Siamese

Let every man praise the bridge he goes over. English

Praise the day at evening. Irish

An honest man is hurt by praise unjustly bestowed. French

Things hate being praised prematurely. Bantu

Clever preacher, short sermon. Japanese

It is easy preaching to the fasting with a full belly. Italian

He preaches well that lives well. Spanish

Mr. Headshaker’s prediction – if it’s not a boy, it’s a girl. Malay

Pretty girl, dirty tricks. Negro

Never say “no” from pride, or “yes” from weakness. Spanish

It is not necessary for priests to marry as long as the peasants 
 have wives. German

The vices of a prince draw shoals of followers.

When the prince wants a minister to die, he dies. Chinese

When a prince wants an apple, his servant gathers them all from 
 the tree. Swedish

To be a complete man one should have spent three years at a 
 public school, one at a University, and two in prison. Russian

Prison and Lent were made for the poor. Spanish

A thousand probabilities do not make one truth. Italian

To whisper proclamations is ridiculous. English

In the land of promise a man may die of hunger. Dutch

Promise is a bridge of words, unsafe to walk across. German

He loses his thanks who promises and delays. English

Promises and undressed cloth are apt to shrink. Danish

Promising is not giving but serves to content fools. Portuguese

A proof too many will not spoil the case. Portuguese

Property is theft. French

In prosperity no altars smoke. Italian

Who is proud on an ass will run mad on a horse. Montenegrin

Proverbs are constantly warring against each other. Swiss

Proverbs lie on the lips of fools. English

He that proves too much proves nothing. Latin

God will provide, but a bundle of straw will not be amiss. 

Painting the pump will not clean the well. English

If you have an empty purse, keep honey in your mouth. 

A purse without money is called leather. Italian

Put it on thick, and a little will stick. English

The putting-off man sharpens his arrows when he sees the 
 boar. Japanese


Quackery has no friend like gullibility. English

An old quarrel is easily renewed. Italian

The roots of quarrels are three, namely: Yes! what! and you! 

One cannot with decency complain of the action of another in
 excelling him: those quarrels which have their origin in envy are 
 not easily made up. Sudanic

A good question is like one beating a bell. Chinese

Unsettled questions have no pity for the repose of nations. 


Every rag wants to be sent to the wash. Italian

Rain doesn’t remain in the sky. Estonian

The rainbow might be better looking if it wasn’t such a cheap 
 show. Negro

He built a wine shop out of a raisin.
(i.e. made a crime out of nothing.) Egyptian

He became a raisin before he was a grape.
(i.e. a student pretends to be a scribe.) Semitic

Rats do not play tricks with kittens. Spanish

Rats know the way of rats. Chinese

A man of reading understands half a word. Irish

Who gives many reasons tells many lies. Russian

Open rebuke is better than secret hatred.

Who receives should thank, who gives should be silent. 

A reflection does not see itself. Bantu

Refused with kindness is half promised. German

A relative on Adam’s side.
(i.e. an answer to one boasting of relationship to a notability.) 

All religions start from Asia. Japanese

Where remedies are needed, sighing avails not. Italian

The best remedy for a dispute is not to discuss it. Bantu

Who repairs not his gutter, repairs his whole house. Spanish

The reply to a Turkish question should be in Turkish. Persian

There are some reproaches which commend, and some praises 
 which slander. French

Reputation is commonly measured by the acre.

In things that must be, it is good to be resolute. English

A following commands respect. Italian

Respect, disrespect and suspect spoil the world. Italian

Revenge a hundred years old has still its milk teeth. Italian

In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in
 passing it over, he is superior. English

Wait for time and place to take your revenge for it is never well 
 done in a hurry. Italian

He who cannot revenge himself is weak; he who will not is 
 contemptible. Italian

The reverse side has its reverse side.
(i.e. everything has its front and back.) Japanese

Revolutions are not made with rose-water. English

The rich add riches to riches; the poor add years to years. 

Kissing the young and giving short measure to the rich are no
 sin. Serbian

The rich impoverish, the poor enrich. German

A rich man is either himself an unjust one, or the heir of one. 

The illness of the rich is known to all, but not even the death of 
 the poor. Finnish

The rich knows not who is his friend. English

Having become rich, one must jump for joy in the dark corner. 

How is it that the rich only are niggardly? Malay

If one became rich through hard work, a donkey would have a
packsaddle of gold. French

A man cannot grow rich without his wife’s leave. Irish

If you are rich, you speak the truth; if you are poor, your words 
 are but lies. Chinese

The rich man and the ashtray become dirtier as they heap up. 

The rich man has five senses, the poor man six. Swedish

Before the rich man is willing to give, the poor man dies.

Do not examine the reindeer given you by the rich man lest you 
 find it to be without horns. Finnish

The rich man will feed the rich man, the poor man will feed the 
 rich man. Indian

Rich men’s spots are covered with money. English

The slave of riches is poverty. Estonian

Ridicule is the test of truth.

More belongs to riding than a pair of riding boots. German

The bare right is almost injustice. Irish

It is not enough to be right, one should know how to profit by it. 

Who comes out of a river fears no rain. Slovenian

Do not push the river; it will flow by itself. Polish

Be the road crooked or straight, the highway is the short cut. 

Don’t leave the high road for a short cut. Portuguese

A mile round the road is shorter than half a mile across the field. 

He who goes two roads at the same time splits his hip joint. 

The robber has committed one crime, and the robbed a
 thousand. Georgian

Many speak of Robin Hood that never shot his bow. English

He who has left a rogue behind him has made a good day’s
 journey. German

When a rogue kisses you count your teeth. Hebrew

Room can always be found for a delicacy. Hebrew

There is always room for one who is wanted. Sudanic

He has got the two ends of the rope and leave to pull. Irish

The rope has never been made that binds thoughts. Swedish

The last rose that falls off makes the rose-bush a bush. 

Plant roses for him who plants thorns for you. For you they are
 roses, for him a trident. Indian

A change of rulers is the joy of fools. Roumanian

It is not enough to run; one must start in time. French

You run too fast, you run twice. Negro

Not all who turn their backs are running away. Swedish

What is the use of running when we are not on the right road? 

He runs as fast as if he had eggs in his shoes. Dutch

If you beat a Russian he can even make you a watch. Russian


A saddle fits more backs than one.

When the saddle is empty, you can mount. German

Lay the saddle upon the right horse. English

It is safe taking a slice of a cut loaf. English

When one has said “A” one must also say “B.” German

Hoist your sail when the wind is fair. English

Sailors go round the world without going into it. English

To go barefoot does not make the saint. German

Let a saint be ever so humble he will have his wax taper. 

Many turn saints for their stomach’s sake. Indian

Unhappy people make the saints rich. German

All are not saints that go to church. Italian

They are not all saints who use holy water. English

He who ate salt will drink water. Indian

As you salute, you will be saluted. Italian

He dived into a saucer, and his back showed up.
(Said when a man makes a shallow excuse.) Bantu

What you save on the hay you must add to the whip. German

Save something for the man that rides on the white horse.
(i.e. for old age.) English

One does not know for whom one saves. Icelandic

He who saves for another day has no trust in God. Chilean

Say not all thou knowest, but believe all thou sayest. German

Better say nothing than nothing to the purpose. English

Nowadays, whatever is not worth saying is sung. French

Saying well causes a laugh; doing well produces silence. French

He who says “A” at last comes to “Z.” German

Scandal is like an egg; when it is hatched it has wings. Malay

He laughs at scars that never felt a wound. German

Since you have been scolding me, I have counted a hundred and 
 twenty holes in that nutmeg-grater. Spanish

Scotsmen always reckon from an ill hour. Scottish

There is no need for a sculptor to be himself made of marble. 

Go to the sea if you would fish well. Italian

No one can complain of the sea who twice suffers a shipwreck. 

Don’t make an enemy of your secret.
(i.e. don’t tell it.) Irish

He that tells a secret is another’s servant. English

He who asks does not go wrong, but his secret is dug up. 

A secret only goes in trousers.
(i.e. women can’t keep one.) Yiddish

I wish to see face and back.
(i.e. both sides of the question.) African

If you see him riding on a bamboo cane say to him, “Good health
 to your horse.”

No one can see in others further than the teeth. Danish

One “see” is worth a thousand “tells.” Chinese

A man who stands behind a wall can see nothing else.
(Said of one obsessed with one thing.) Japanese

We can never see the sun rise by looking into the West.

One may see through a wall if there is a hole in it. German

Mr. “Seeing-for-himself” falls into misfortune. Bantu

Seeing’s believing, but feeling’s the naked truth. Scottish

He who has seen little marvels much. Chinese

God, what things a man sees when he goes out without a gun!

Who will sell a blind horse praises the feet. German

If it will not sell, it will not sour. Scottish

They that sell kids and have no goats, how came they by them? 

The sensible man understands a half a word. French

It is good to strike the serpent’s head with your enemy’s.

If you pay not a servant his wages, he will pay himself. English

If you have a loitering servant, place his dinner before him, and
send him on an errand. Spanish

A new servant will catch a deer. Indian

He who has servants has unavoidable enemies. Spanish

Many servants, many enemies. German

The best served is not he who puts other people’s arms at the
 ends of his arms. French

He who serves is not free. Spanish

Not all that shakes falls. Italian

When sharpers prey upon one another, there’s no game 
 abroad. English

You do not wish to be shaven, you want to have the hairs
 plucked out. Bantu

Become a sheep and you will see the wolf. Bulgarian

Never fleece two sheep at a time; the other may bite you. 

That sheep has his belly full which butts his companions. 

He that has one sheep in the flock will like all the rest the better
 for it. English

That is a woeful silly sheep that goes to the wolf to confess.

A sheep was never known to climb a tree. Chinese

Never give the sheep when you can pay with the wool. German

A sheep’s bite is never more than skin deep. Italian

When a Sheik dies his friendships die with him.
(i.e. the tribe is free to make new alliances.) Arabic

There is more disputing about the shell than the kernel.

To a crazy ship, all winds are contrary. English

Shitten luck is good luck.
(i.e. to befoul oneself with ordure is lucky.) English

One cannot shoe a running horse. Dutch

Every shoe fits not every foot. English

Only the shoe knows if the stocking has a hole. Negro

I know best where the shoe pinches me. English

To him who hath a shoe under his foot it is the same as if the
 world was covered with leather.

Shoemakers go to mass and pray that sheep may die. Spanish

When the shopkeeper has nothing to do he changes the 
 weights. Arabic

Ten who shout obtain much more than ten who remain silent. 

The sick man is vexed with the flies on the wall. German

If you intend to give a sick man medicine, let him get very ill first,
so that he may see the benefit of your medicine. Sudanic

The sieve says to the needle, “You have a hole in your tail.”

Silence answers much. Dutch

Much silence has a mighty noise. Bantu

Silence is also an answer.

Silence was never written down. Italian

He that knows nothing, knows enough if he know how to be 
 silent. Italian

Be silent or say something better than silence. German

No simile yet ran on all fours. Latin

A sin concealed is half pardoned. French

True sincerity sends for no witnesses. English

The sinning is the best part of repentance. Arabic

He sins as much who holds the bag as he who puts into it. 

Never sit in the place of the man who can say to you, “Rise.” 

It is as cheap sitting as standing. English

One cannot ski so softly that the traces cannot be seen.

In taking a seat and putting on his hat a man shows much of his
 skill. Spanish

If the sky fall, we shall catch larks. English

What is said to a man’s face is not slander. Chinese

Give a slave a rod, and he’ll beat his master. English

If I sleep, I sleep for myself; if I work, I know not for whom. 

To sleep in the inn of the stars.
(i.e. out of doors.) Spanish

Take care, the sleep of non-existence will overtake you at last; 
 for the coming and going of the breath is but the rocking of the 
 cradle. Persian

Sleep to the sick is half health. German

In a small town one knows the other by his nose. German

He smells best that smells of nothing. English

To be a smith you must work at the forge. Latin

They who shun the smoke often fall into the fire. Italian

Tramp on a snail, and she’ll shoot our her horns. Scottish

One year bitten by a snake, for three years afraid of a grass
 rope. Chinese

Do not whirl a snake in the air when you have killed it; the ones 
 which remain in their holes see you. Bantu

There is no distinction between big and little when you are
 talking about snakes. Indian

The owner of a soft head takes good care of it. Bantu

A soldier, fire, and water, soon make room for themselves.

All are not soldiers who go to the wars. Spanish

Through others I am somebody. Bantu

A man likes to be better than everyone else but worse than his 
 son. Serbian

He who pitches too high won’t get through his song. German

That is done soon enough which is well done. French

That is a prodigious plaster for so small a sore. English

Different sores must have different salves. English

Sorrow is like a precious treasure; shown only to friends. Malay

A good soup draws the chair to it. Sudanic

Sow with the hand, and not with the whole sack. English

You can’t dig with a spade handle, but it helps the spade to dig. 

A bad Spaniard makes a good Portuguese. Spanish

A little spark kindles a great fire. Italian

It is one thing to speak much, and another to speak pertinently. 

When all men speak, no man hears. English

Do not speak of rope in the house of the hanged. German

It is easier to speak than to say something. Russian

He who speaks without being answered, how great is his pain? 

a good spectator also creates. Swiss

If you spit in his eye, he says, “It is raining.”
(Said of one who is difficult to insult.) Polish

Who spits against the wind fouls his beard. Dutch

A dry spoon doesn’t please. Turkish

That’s a spoon in another man’s mouth.
(Said when an office-holder dies or resigns.) Irish

You have put an empty spoon in my mouth. Scottish

Said in sport, meant in earnest. German

He that cannot make sport, should mar none. Scottish

In sports and in journeys men are known. English

One spot spots the whole dress. Flemish

Errands are small on a spring day. Icelandic

If you squeeze a cork, you will get but little juice. English

When one goes to a town inhabited by squint-eyed people one
 must squint one’s eyes. Siamese

The squirrel can beat the rabbit climbing a tree, but then the 
 rabbit makes the best stew and that sort of equalizes things. 

The squirrel is not heard in the forest.
(i.e. too insignificant.) Bantu

Do not fear a stain that disappears with water. Spanish

It is hard for a man who stands to talk to one who is seated. 

The light of a hundred stars does not equal the light of the 
 moon. Chinese

He that can stay, obtains. English

Once in forty years I set out to steal, and then the moon shone
 all night. Oriental

If you steal for others you shall be hanged yourself. English

Stealing with your eyes is no sin. Russian

He that hides it is no better than he that steals. Danish

Not he who steals is hanged, but he who is caught stealing. 

He steals the pig, and gives away the feet for God’s sake. 

Mind the step; the bottom one’s the lowest. Irish

If you tell every step, you will make a long journey of it. 

With the arrival of the stepmother the father becomes a 
 stepfather. Afghanistan

Stolen waters are sweet. Scottish

He who throws stones in the night kills his brother. Sudanic

It is no time to stoop when the head is off. English

Stop a little to make an end the sooner. English

There is much good sleep in an old story. German

He that would rightly understand a man, must read his whole 
 story. English

If you don’t hear the story clearly, don’t carry it off with you
 under your arm. Siamese

Who wants to straighten a crooked street will have to pull down 
 many houses. Serbian

The third strand makes the cable. Dutch

Who curries a strange horse gets the hairs for his labor. 

What a pleasure to sit in the fire having on strange trousers. 

Strife is the father of all things.

If you lift your hand to strike you are three-tenths lower than
 your opponent. Chinese

He who strikes first, strikes twice. Walloon

Striking and not making it felt, is anger lost. English

A strong man can spin his top in the sand. Japanese

He who is stronger than you strikes you with the stick you carry. 

After being struck on the head with an axe, it is a positive
 pleasure to be beaten about the body with a wooden club.

If a man be struck once, people say he was thrashed. 

Some study shows the need for more. Chinese

He that stumbles, and falls not quite, gains a step. English

He who stumbles twice over one stone deserves to break his
 shins. English

Who disputes with the stupid must have sharp answers. 

Success has many friends. Greek

For those who do not know how to suffer, any life is death. 

We must suffer much, or die young. Danish

Sugar is sweet from all four corners.
(i.e. wherever you eat it.) Kalmuk

One sprinkles the most sugar where the tart is burnt. Dutch

People with wax heads shouldn’t walk in the sun. English

Speak not against the sun.
(i.e. argue not against what is clear.) Chinese

If the sun shines on me I care not for the moon. Italian

When the sun shines the moon has nothing to do. French

The sun should not feel wroth at a firefly. Siamese

What’s the good of a sun-dial in the shade? English

The sunset is mighty pretty to the plowhand. Negro

He who sends charcoal in a snowstorm is the true superior man.

In hot weather there is no superior man.
(i.e. because nobody stands on ceremony.) Chinese

He is truly a superior man who can watch a chess game in 
 silence. Chinese

“May you live and prosper” won’t support the wife and family. 

If your mind is free from care, stand surety for a loan! If your 
 body is free from pain, stamp on a dog’s tail. Tibetan

A man surprised is half beaten.

The swallow carries spring on its wings. Czech

It is good to hold the clothes of one who is swimming. Italian

While in battle you cannot lend your sword. Bosnian

Who draweth his sword against his Prince must throw away the 
 scabbard. English

He runs away from the sword and hides in the scabbard. 

The sharp sword is given to the brave soldier. Chinese

If your sword is short, lengthen it by a step. Hungarian

The scabbard of my sword is the liver of my enemy. Tibetan

One sword keeps another in the scabbard. English

A broken sword must be left in its scabbard. German

Scanderberg’s sword must have Scanderberg’s arm. English

He who never draws the sword without cause, never lays it
 down without honor. Spanish

The sword’s fellowship is sweet. Afghanistan

A good swordsman is never quarrelsome. French


That which is said at table should be wrapped up in the 
 tablecloth. Italian

What falls over the scissors belongs to the tailor. Estonian

One “take this” is better than two “you shall haves.” French

Believe no tales from an enemy’s tongue. English

Talk does not cook rice. Chinese

A good talker does not equal a good listener. Chinese

Sometimes talking loses what silence has gained. Spanish

A tall house is empty under the rafters.
(i.e. a tall man.) Spanish

We should attack a difficult task as though it were easy, and an 
 easy task as though it were difficult. Spanish

He who is not taught by his mother will be taught by the world. 

Blessed be nothing when the tax-gatherer comes around.

He who teaches a boy teaches three: a youth, a young man, 
 and an old one. German

Teaching is a long way, example a short one. German

The full teapot makes no sound; the half-empty teapot is very 
 noisy. Chinese

He tears away the east wall to repair the west wall. Chinese

Tears sometimes have the weight of words. Latin

If someone has bitten you it reminds you that you have teeth. 

Eating pears also cleans one’s teeth.
(i.e. kills two birds with one stone.) Japanese

We pick each other’s teeth.
(i.e. on excellent terms.) Bantu

Click the teeth and the stomach will open the door. Georgian

The gums understand best the teeth’s affairs. Sudanic

Temperance does not show in need, but at a banquet. Czech

Those near the temple make fun of the gods. Chinese

To thank too much is to secretly ask for more. German

The one who is caught is the thief. Bantu

Eat-by-himself is a thief. Bantu

He who holds the ladder is as bad as the thief. German

He that fears the gallows shall never be a good thief. English

An insolent thief accuses the owner. Turkish

If you would make a thief honest trust him. Spanish

Where the host is a thief it is difficult to steal. German

We hang little thieves and take off our hats to great ones. 

Petty thieves are hanged, people take off their hats to great 
 ones. German

Great thieves hang little ones. England

Thieves nowadays are not in the forests, but in the offices. 

The great thieves punish the little ones. English

Thieves quarrel and thefts are discovered. Spanish

When two thieves quarrel the farmer gets back his cow. Finnish

Highways and streets have not all the thieves; shops have ten 
 to one.

Things are not as they are, but as they are regarded.

If a man think well of you, make his thought come true. Arabic

I will not pull the thorn out of your foot, to put it into my own.

With shoes one can get on in the midst of thorns. Sudanic

A man does not run among thorns for nothing; either he is 
 chasing a snake or a snake is chasing him. Sudanic

Every one thinks that all the bells echo his own thoughts. 

When a man’s coat is thread-bare, it is an easy thing to pick a
 hole in it. English

Threats are arms for the threatened. Italian

The throat has no pity.
(i.e. bodily needs must be filled even by those in grief.) Bantu

There is no god like the throat; it accepts offerings every day. 

Don’t throw away the old bucket until you know whether the 
 new one holds water. Swedish

If the thunder is not loud the peasant forgets to cross himself. 

While the thunder lasted, two bad men were friends. Indian

He is a paper tiger.
(i.e. a blustering fellow.) Chinese

He who rides the tiger finds it difficult to dismount. Chinese

An inch of gold will not buy an inch of time. Chinese

Time and I against any two. Spanish

As good have no time, as make no good use of it. English

Time enough lost the ducks. Irish

There is a time for picking up stones and a time for throwing 
 them. Spanish

Don’t say “I will do it when I have time,” for who tells you that 
 you will have time? Hebrew

Time is a file that wears and makes no noise. Italian

Time is an unpaid advocate. German

There is a time to fish and a time to dry nets. Chinese

What may be done at any time will be done at no time. Scottish

The toad doesn’t know that his skin is rough. Sudanic

Tobacco without coffee is like a prince without furs. Egyptian

The mountains of today are not so lofty as the mountains of 
 yore. Chinese

Today is the scholar of yesterday. English

No one has ever seen tomorrow.

Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. Spanish

Let not your tongue cut your throat. English

The tongue is like a sharp knife; it kills without drawing blood.

The tongue is soft and remains; the teeth are hard and fall out. 

The tongue is the worst piece of meat in the world. Swiss

When the tongue slips it speaks the truth. Swiss

Teach the tongue to say: “I do not know.” Hebrew

A double tongue will slip. Indian

Ten tongues asserting are not worth one eye seeing, nor are
 ten eyes seeing equal to a single hand feeling. Siamese

Too far east is west. Portuguese

Take two bites if one is too large. German

A little too late, much too late. German

Too little and too much spoils everything. Danish

“Too little” is worth nothing, and that little is too much. Jersey

Handle your tools without mittens. Scottish

Better a tooth out, than always aching. English

He who would be the top of the bag, let him not commit what 
 suits the bottom of the bag. Welsh

He that is carried down the torrent catcheth at every thing. 

The tortoise breathes; it is only is shell which prevents our 
 noticing it.
(i.e. the poor man has little opportunity for self-expression.) 

Trade follows the flag. English

The loyal man lives no longer than the traitor pleases. Spanish

Translators, traitors. Italian

If you toil so for trash, what would you do for treasure? English

He who rides behind another does not travel when he pleases. 

The treason is loved, but the traitor is hated. English

The great tree attracts the wind. Chinese

You can count the number of apples on one tree, but you can
 never count the number of trees in one apple. Romany

To the fallen tree, hatchets! hatchets! Italian

He plants a tree in the morning and wants to saw planks from it 
 at evening. Chinese

When the tree is fallen, every one runs to it with his axe. Greek

It is only at the tree loaded with fruit that people throw stones. 

The dead limb on the tree shows itself when the buds come out. 

Don’t climb a tree to look for fish. Chinese

It is not the defects of the branches, nor of the leaves that 
 cause the tree to perish; it is the decay of the root. Chinese

Don’t speak of trees in the forest.
(i.e. don’t talk platitudes.) Malay

He that plants trees loves others besides himself. English

A young trooper should have an old horse. English

Put the troubles in a net, some will fall, some will remain. 

True blue will never stain. Scottish

A trumpet is heard before it is seen. Welsh

Trust-well rides away with the horse. German

Give a horse to him who tells the truth.
(i.e. that he may escape.) Armenian

It takes a good many shovelfuls of earth to bury the truth. 

A thousand probabilities do not make one truth. Italian

Tell the truth and flee. Montenegrin

Speak the truth and look which way to run. Serbian

Truth and the morning become light with time. Abyssinian

Tell the truth and try to escape. Russian

Truth finds foes. English

Truth finds no asylum. German

What dread has truth for fire? Indian

Truth hardens itself to the hammer. Greek

Truth has a handsome countenance but torn garments. 

Truth has a good face, but bad clothes. English

If the truth is acceptable to the Tsar, it is not the truth but a lie. 

The truth is always green. Spanish

Truth is heavy, therefore few care to carry it. Hebrew

All truth is not to be told at all times. English

Half the truth is often a great lie. English

Truth is straight but judges are crooked. Russian

He who tells the truth is turned out of nine cities. Turkish

When one has one’s hand full of truth, it is not always wise to 
 open it. French

He that speaks truth must have one foot in the stirrup. Turkish

With truth one goes everywhere, even in prison. Polish

It is truth that makes a man angry. Italian

All truths should not be told. English

A drop of water in the eyes of the Tsar costs the country many 
 handkerchiefs. Russian

The more you tramp on a turd, the broader it grows. Scottish

The more you tramp on a turd, the worse it stinks. English

He that thatches his house with turds shall have more teachers 
 than reachers. English

If two men are of one mind, they can change yellow earth into 
 gold. Chinese

If two men ride on a horse, one must ride behind. English

Too much tying loosens. Arabic

The tyrant is dead but not tyranny. German


He who comes uncalled, sits unserved. English

1. There is nothing unchanging on this earth.

1. He who would understand the hands of a clock must get inside
 the works. German

1. Unity among the cattle makes the lion lie down hungry. Bantu

1. If the unlucky man were to trade in winding sheets, no one 
 would die. Arabic

1. To spoil what is good by unreasonableness is like letting off 
 fireworks in the rain. Chinese

1. The unwilling man’s nose must bleed. Negro

1. Unwillingness easily finds an excuse. Irish

1. Where there is up-hill there is also down-hill. Bosnian

1. If you are standing upright, don’t worry if your shadow is
 crooked. Chinese

1. Use men as you would use wood; because one inch is worm-
 eaten, you would never throw away the whole trunk. Chinese


1. The thicker the veil, the less worth lifting. Turkish

1. The vessel that will not obey her helm must obey the rocks. 

1. The victor feels no fatigue. Bulgarian

1. After victory, tighten your helmet cord. Japanese

1. Eight views, eight recollections. Irish

1. The bitter-gourd vine can bear only bitter gourds. Chinese


1. A wager is a fool’s argument. Scottish

1. Men work but slowly that have poor wages. English

1. Seven never wait for one. Russian

1. People count up the faults of those who keep them waiting. 

1. If you walk gently, the earth will bear you. Indian

1. He that walks daily over his estates finds a little coin each time. 

1. He who walks is not a comrade to him who rides. Russian

1. She crawls on the walls.
(Said of a very particular housekeeper.) Yiddish

1. He that wants should not be bashful. Italian

1. One war brings on another. German

1. Every war ends where it should begin. Spanish

1. War has no eyes. Bantu

1. The advantage of war is to make of a secret enemy an open
 one. German

1. In war, it is not permitted twice to err. English

1. War makes thieves, and peace hangs them. Scottish

1. After the war many heroes present themselves. Roumanian

1. To carry on war with spy-glasses is easy. Arabic

1. He that is not in the wars, is not out of danger. English

1. He that is warm thinks all so. English

1. A man warmed is as good as two. French

1. I wash my shirt.
(i.e. I am unmarried.) Gipsy

1. Watch the face of him who bows low. Polish

1. To him who watches everything is revealed. Italian

1. Don’t bathe if there is no water.
(i.e. don’t undertake the impossible.) Burmese

1. Thou has added water, and flour also.
(Said of one who asks many questions but adds nothing more 
 substantial to the conversation.) Hebrew

1. He who wants to attain water and earth at the same time will 
 wade in a marsh. Bulgarian

1. Water can support a ship, and water can upset it. Chinese

1. Dirty water cannot be washed. Sudanic

1. A mouth full of water can’t blow a fire. Brazilian

1. Hot water does not burn down the house.
(i.e. hard words break no bones.) Bantu

1. If water is too clear, it will contain no fish; men who are too
 cautious will never gain wisdom. Chinese

1. He who would have clear water must go to the fountain head. 

1. Water never loses its way. Bantu

1. Whether you boil snow or pound it, you can have but the water 
 of it. English

1. It is needless to pour water on a drowned mouse. English

1. Where is water on the ridge of a roof to descend to if it does not 
 run to the eaves?
(i.e. natural laws are naturally followed.) Malayan

1. There is no water so troubled that it doesn’t end by becoming
 clear. Walloon

1. The water that bears the boat is the same that swallows it up. 

1. Pouring in water to stop the boiling is not so good as pulling out 
 the firewood from under the oven. Chinese

1. Muddy water won’t do for a mirror. Italian

1. The more water you put in the more flour you must put in. 

1. He goes out of his way that goes to a good inn. English

1. A weak person goes where he is smiled at. Bantu

1. He that is drunk with wine gets sober; he that is drunk with 
 wealth does not. Bantu

1. He that marries for wealth, sells his liberty. English

1. Where there is not wealth there is poverty. Bantu

1. If a wealthy man speaks unjustly they say to him, your speech is 
 gold; if a poor man speaks the truth they drive him away and in 
 addition spit upon him. Semitic

1. The secret of being wearisome is to tell everything. French

1. He that bites on every weed must needs light on poison. 

1. Not everything can be weighed in scales. Danish

1. We can offer you a dish of welcome. Spanish

1. They are welcome that bring. Scottish

1. Well done, soon done. Scottish

1. When the well is full it will run over.
(i.e. people much wronged will show their resentment.) 

1. “Not well” is worse than “sick in bed.” Scottish

1. “Well, well” is a word of malice. English

1. To boil the pot of our wellwishers let us turn our furniture into
 firewood. Persian

1. One already wet does not fear the rain. Turkish

1. When one wheel in the clock stands still, all stand still. Swedish

1. He who whispers lies. Danish

1. White hands like someone else’s labor. Russian

1. If there had been no poverty in Europe, then the white man 
 would not have come and spread his clothes in Africa. Sudanic

1. Whites never fall out; only blacks do. Bantu

1. The rich widow cries with one eye and laughs with the other. 

1. A widow dreams in a double dream on her empty cot.
(i.e. of her late lamented and of her next love.) Afghanistan

1. He that marries a widow will often have a dead man’s head
 thrown in his dish. English

1. A man is not to be known till he takes a wife. French

1. He that hath a wife and children hath given hostages to fortune.

1. If you want to thrash your wife ask her for a drink of water in 
 the sun.
(i.e. to find fault with its purity.) Spanish

1. If thou desirest a wife, choose her on a Saturday rather than on
 a Sunday.
(i.e. on Sunday she is fully clothed.) English

1. Hold a wife like a bottle. Estonian

1. A man who will can do more than ten who must. German

1. When the will is prompt the legs are nimble. Italian

1. He who wills the end wills the means. English

1. No wind can do him good who steers for no port.

1. What can the wind do to a stone? Finnish

1. One sees best the direction of the wind from tall trees. Swiss

1. From the window it is easy to frighten the bull. Italian

1. He cries wine and sells vinegar. English

1. Wine in the bottle doth not quench the thirst. English

1. The wine is drawn; it must be drunk. English

1. Winnow while the wind blows. Indian

1. Warm days in winter are also cold, and cold days in summer are 
 also warm. Finnish

1. The winter does not go without looking backward. Finnish

1. Winter pulls the mittens out of your pocket. Estonian

1. The wisdom of this year is the folly of the next. Sudanic

1. The least foolish is wise. English

1. The wind in one’s face makes one wise. English

1. Everybody is wise after the thing has happened. French

1. Think with the wise, but talk with the vulgar. English

1. The wise is only once betrayed. German

1. The wise read a letter backward. German

1. Better weep with the wise than laugh with fools. German

1. A wise man builds two words out of one. Yiddish

1. If the wise man does not approve it is bad, but if the fool 
 applauds it is worse. Chilean

1. A wise man makes his own decisions; an ignorant man follows 
 public opinion. Chinese

1. A wise man moveth one foot and standeth fast with the other. 

1. The wise man never says “I did not think.” Spanish

1. Send a wise man on an errand, and say nothing to him. English

1. The wise man strikes twice against one and the same stone. 

1. Many things have two handles, and a wise man takes hold of 
 the best. English

1. He is not a wise man who cannot play the fool on occasion. 

1. A wise man will make tools of what comes to hand. English

1. Even ill luck is good for something in a wise man’s hand. 

1. The views of wise men are pretty much the same. Chinese

1. Wise men make proverbs and fools repeat them. Scottish

1. What you wish you readily believe. Hungarian

1. After wit is everybody’s wit. English

1. Do not measure the tail of a live wolf. Bulgarian

1. Report makes the wolf bigger than he is. German

1. The wolf changes his hair, but not his skin. Albanian

1. It is a hard winter when one wolf eats another. English

1. The wolf has the wolf’s luck. Estonian

1. When the wolf is advised to walk in front of the sheep, he says 
 his foot hurts him. Kurdish

1. The wolf is always left out of the reckoning. Italian

1. The wolf is always said to be more terrible than he is. Italian

1. To be kind to the wolf is to be cruel to the lamb. Persian

1. Where a wolf lives no bird starves. German

1. Though the wolf may lose his teeth, he never loses his 
 inclinations. English

1. On a little pretext the wolf seizes the sheep. Italian

1. Who keeps company with the wolf will learn to howl. English

1. The wolf’s death is the life of the sheep. German

1. God guards the moon from the wolves. French

1. Woman is a chain round the feet and a child a bit in the mouth. 

1. If a woman knew how much an apple is worth she would never 
 give any to a man. French

1. Choose neither a woman nor linen by candle-light. English

1. Even if the woman’s candlestick be made of gold, it is the man
 who puts the candle in. Turkish

1. A woman’s tears and a dog’s limping are not real. Spanish

1. The three animals that spend the most time over their toilet are
 cats, flies and women. French

1. Two women – a market; three – a fair. Russian

1. Three women and a goose make a market. Italian

1. Women and fish are best in the middle. German

1. With women and ships there is always the fear that they may 
 capsize. French

1. Handsome women generally fall to the lot of ugly men. Italian

1. Good women have no ears. German

1. Two women placed together make cold weather. English

1. Women resist in order to be conquered. Italian

1. He that is won with a nut may be lost with an apple. English

1. If “Mr. Won’t” won’t, “Mr. Will” will. Bosnian

1. With dry wood, green wood also burns. Turkish

1. Wood half-burnt is easily kindled. English

1. It is a strange wood that has never a dead bough in it. English

1. The wood pile doesn’t grow much on frosty nights. Negro

1. One doesn’t play with wool and fire at the same time. Turkish

1. A tiny little word can be a clap of thunder. French

1. The word invites you to stay the night, but the countenance 
 sends you home again the same day. Malay

1. The best word is the word that remains to be spoken. Spanish

1. A word spoken at the right moment is like a golden apple on a 
 silver dish. Silesian

1. Of big words and feathers many go to the pound. German

1. Words are dwarfs, but examples are giants. Swiss

1. Words are empty, but the writing-brush leaves traces. Chinese

1. Unless words are spoken a son will not understand his own 
 father; unless a proclamation is hoisted in the market-place 
 every man will do as he listeth. Tibetan

1. Words do not make flour. Italian

1. It is in vain to use words when deeds are expected.

1. One is more likely to get hunchbacked than rich through work. 

1. Work is in awe of the master-craftsman. Estonian

1. The work praises the master. Estonian

1. Every work revenges itself on its master. German

1. The work will teach you.
(Said when one is asked to do some work and says he does not 
 know how to do it.) Estonian

1. A bad workman quarrels with his tools. English

1. The worm sees nothing pretty in the robin’s song. Negro

1. A wound is not cured by the unbending of the bow. English

1. He that’s afraid of wounds must not come nigh a battle. English

1. When wrath and vengeance marry, cruelty is born. Russian

1. What is written counts. Peruvian


1. Lack of years is a fault that is corrected every day. German

1. Before us stands yesterday. Finnish

1. Now is yesterday’s tomorrow. English

1. Young maids are grapes, old ones raisins. German

The End