Which proverbs and pieces of advice are always true

Proverbs: 80 Popular Proverbs + Meaning

Proverbs are firmly established in every language. There are many thousands of such sayings in German - it is accordingly impossible to know them all. At the right moment, however, a proverb can give emphasis to the statement or contain a wisdom. Interlocutors also expect proverbs to be understood and correctly interpreted. We have listed 80 popular proverbs and their meanings ...

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➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what are proverbs?

Proverbs (also called trial verbs) are memorable, mostly very short sentences that contain an instructive message or wisdom. They are based on recurring experiences and have been firmly adopted in linguistic usage as a well-known sentence.

Another typical feature of proverbs is that there is usually no author. Rather, trial verbs arise from observations and experiences, which are generalized and put into word form. Today's proverbs mostly go back to the Middle Ages and have established themselves over the centuries (albeit adapted and changed).

What is the difference between proverbs and idioms?

Proverb and idiom are not identical, even if the terms are often confused. Idioms are only fragments that can be flexibly incorporated into different sentences, formulations and contexts. A proverb, on the other hand, is a complete, closed sentence.

For example, one idiom is “lose the thread”, while “still waters run deep” is a typical saying.

80 popular proverbs and meanings

Proverbs and their meanings can be learned by dealing with them. Children hear them from their parents and adopt them in their own language. Seniors tend to use more proverbs than youth, but there are numerous trial verbs that are known and popular at all ages. In our extensive list we have compiled 100 proverbs and meanings:

30 of the most common proverbs

  • Haughtiness comes before the event.
    Those who overestimate themselves will fail. Too much arrogance leads to taking over yourself. The proverb is often used by braggers who are already bursting with arrogance before an achievement.
  • All that glitters is not gold.
    It may look great on the outside, but don't let it fool you. The first appearance can be deceptive. A closer look reveals the true worth - or the true character of a person. Because even promises that sound great are not always kept.
  • The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
    In children, not only the appearance of the parents but also their characteristics or character traits is often revealed. The proverb expresses this similarity in essence.
  • Exceptions prove the rule.
    Just because there is an exception every now and then doesn't mean a rule is wrong. Rather, the exact opposite is true: If one can speak of an exception, it has to mean, conversely, that there is a rule - which is confirmed by the exception.
  • Every beginning is difficult.
    New and previously unknown situations or learning a new skill: it is particularly difficult at the beginning. Things only become easier over time.
  • The early bird catches the worm.
    Early risers have more of the day and the first hours of the day are particularly good and successful at work. Early risers can confirm this - even if late risers with a different chronobiology cannot gain anything from the morning hour.
  • If you rest, you rust.
    Both physical and mental exertion and exercise are necessary to stay fit. Doing nothing at all leads to a loss of skills.
  • Where wood is chopped, splinters must fall.
    There are not only advantages to things, but also disadvantages. When a decision is made, the unpleasant sides that come with it must also be accepted.
  • The sound makes the music.
    Not only what is said, but above all how it is said, determines how it is perceived by the other person. A disrespectful manner quickly leads to an argument, a politely formulated refusal is much easier to accept.
  • The mouth of a child reveals the truth.
    While adults hold back or resort to a white lie, children are direct and honest. They have not yet learned to pretend and also speak unpleasant truths bluntly.
  • You can not teach old dogs new tricks.
    As a child, you learn a lot - and particularly quickly. The proverb aims to make it difficult for adults to learn new skills, or not to do so at all. However, this is now considered refuted, since learning also works in old age.
  • One hand washes the other.
    This can be interpreted ambiguously: the proverb is used when two sides help each other. For example, colleagues at work who do their jobs together. More often, however, it is an expression that something is asked for in return. Motto: Sure I'll do it, but for that you have to ...
  • What you can get today, don't postpone it until tomorrow.
    No more putting off tasks because you just don't feel like it. Do what you need to do now, today. Otherwise you are just piling up a mountain of projects that you push ahead of you.
  • The fish rots from the head.
    A popular saying for companies or teams: If something is wrong at the top, it is also reflected in the overall picture. Bad leadership is reflected in the results of the entire organization.
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth.
    Support can be helpful, but too many different approaches, opinions, and hands doing something at the same time only creates chaos. Sometimes a clear assignment of tasks is better.
  • When two people quarrel, the third is happy.
    In the event of a dispute, it is not those involved who benefit, but an outsider. While the brawlers are preoccupied with their conflict, others benefit from the situation.
  • Speech is silver, silence is gold.
    The short meaning: Sometimes it is better to keep your mouth shut. Not everything that can be said should be said. It is often better to refrain from commenting and to be silent.
  • Anyone who digs a pit for others will fall into it themselves.
    Fooling others and trying to harm them backfires. In the end, such bad behavior is harmful to you.
  • Better to have a sparrow in hand than a pigeon on the roof.
    The saying goes back to the time when pigeons or sparrows were part of the diet. It means being able to be satisfied with something small. Because that is also better than nothing. A pigeon would make you fuller than a sparrow, but this cannot be reached on the roof.
  • Clothes make the man.
    How a person affects others is largely determined by their outfit and external appearance. Whether a T-shirt and shorts or a suit with a tie - the impression of the same person could hardly be more different.
  • All roads lead to Rome.
    Sometimes it also says “Many roads lead to Rome”, the meaning remains the same: There is not just one way to solve a task or a problem. You can approach the matter in different ways, all of which lead to the goal.
  • One should not chickens before they hatch the day.
    Do not rejoice too early, as long as the result has not yet been final and irrevocable.
  • You don't look a given horse in the mouth.
    Anyone who receives something as a gift shouldn't ask about the value or even complain about it. Instead, joy is the order of the day, even if it's just a small gesture. Originally, the saying was actually about horses. It was considered very impolite to look a gift horse in the mouth in the presence of the giver to see how old and healthy the animal is.
  • Small cattle also make crap.
    A small thing is ignored, taken as unimportant or taken for granted - but in the bulk these small things make up a large sum. Saving a few euros every day doesn't seem like much. But after a year a lot comes together.
  • If you sit in a glass house, you shouldn't throw stones.
    It is easy to make accusations, but if they apply to you, don't do so. For example, those who call others liars should not tell the untruth themselves.
  • Other countries other manners.
    In every country and in different cultures there are different norms, customs and behaviors. Just because something is completely normal in your own country does not have to be the case abroad.
  • The cats does not stop to mice.
    Bad habits are deeply ingrained and difficult to get rid of. Most people keep falling back into old patterns, even when they try to get rid of them.
  • The dog is buried there.
    What is meant is the cause of a problem or the decisive factor underlying an unpleasant matter.
  • First come first serve.
    Being the first can mean getting your turn first and not having to wait. It's also a reminder to be on time to avoid long lines.
  • Long story short.
    This saying means something like "to sum it up". If a lot has been said and talked for a long time, the most important information is summarized in a nutshell.

20 proverbs for happiness

  • A blind hen can find a grain.
    Everyone is just lucky sometimes. Even if important skills or talent are missing, it sometimes works without any skill. The proverb can be encouraging, but it is also used pejoratively to express that someone was just lucky and didn't deserve success.
  • All good things come in threes.
    If something has already gone wrong twice, you are lucky on the third try. So don't give up, try one more time.
  • Bad luck in the game, luck in love.
    A proverb that should give consolation: Those who simply cannot win at the game (or even lose money) are sure to be lucky in love. While there is no evidence of such a connection, the proverb is a nice touch when someone is on a losing streak.
  • Shards bring luck.
    This is meant literally. If something breaks, the following time should be particularly happy. For example, on the bachelorette party before a wedding, cups, plates or other porcelain are thrown on the floor. These shards are said to bring happiness and a long marriage to the newlyweds. One explanation is that the loud sound of breaking it drives away evil spirits.
  • You make your own luck.
    Everyone has their own life in their own hands and is responsible for their own happiness. Others should not be held responsible for it.
  • Misfortunes never come singly.
    If something goes wrong, there's more to it. Bad luck seems to attract more misfortune. If a problem arises, it becomes thick and there are three other unexpected difficulties.
  • Rain is followed by sunshine.
    Unfortunately, things can't always go uphill, but the positive meaning of this saying: After a bad time, happiness comes back.
  • Too great luck cannot be trusted.
    Something sounds way too good to be true? Then there is probably something wrong with that. Overly big promises or unrealistic offers should be treated with caution.
  • Happiness and glass, how easily it breaks.
    Happiness is fleeting and if you are not careful you can ruin your own happiness. Just like glass, which can be broken with one thoughtless movement.
  • One's happiness is another's sorrow.
    Often times, good news for one person can be bad for another. A job acceptance for a candidate always means rejection for other applicants.
  • Home Sweet Home.
    No matter where you are in the world, which countries you have been to or who you have visited: Home is simply the most beautiful. This is where most of the people are happiest.
  • Happiness is with the able.
    Happiness is not always a coincidence. Hard work, persistence, and assertiveness all help to develop your own happiness.
  • Modest happiness comes every day.
    Do not expect to win the lottery in the millions. Happiness can be found every day with greater humility. Enjoy the little things in life.
  • All's well that ends well.
    The path was exhausting, there were always problems, but in the end you were happy - then the difficulties are forgotten and you should concentrate on the result.
  • The happiness of the earth lies on the back of a horse.
    The freedom and the feeling of happiness during a ride are indescribable for horse lovers and riders.
  • Happiness likes to step into a house where there is a good mood.
    A good mood and a happy atmosphere really attracts happiness. This saying originally comes from Japanese.
  • Luck always plays first fiddle.
    Whether you like it or not, happiness always plays an important role and can influence life. Some things succeed out of sheer luck, other projects fail without you being able to do anything about it.
  • If you are lucky, you have good dancing.
    If luck is on your side, everything seems to work out and you can be in a good mood.
  • Luck gives one the nuts, the other the shells.
    Life is not always fair. Sometimes one person gets more than the other because he was luckier. The best-known example in the lottery: One person wins the jackpot, the other a loss.
  • Happiness turns beggars into kings and kings into beggars.
    Means: things can change very quickly. If you are lucky, things can improve very quickly. A persistent streak of bad luck leads in the opposite direction.

30 more proverbs

  • Lies have short legs.
    The meaning: if you lie, you won't get very far. It is intended as a reminder that the truth comes to light quickly anyway. Lying is not worth it and always backfires.
  • From nothing, comes nothing.
    In order to achieve something, you have to do something. Success precedes work, greater fitness precedes sport, a successful examination precedes learning ...
  • Dogs that bark do not bite.
    Spitting big tones, maybe even making threats and playing with words - it is usually precisely these people who do not follow suit.
  • Good things take time.
    If something is to be really good, it takes a certain amount of time. Quick shots and over-the-knee decisions are less likely to be successful. Patience brings you further.
  • What the farmer does not know, he does not eat.
    This applies to someone who cannot get involved in the new or the unknown. A description for people who are conservative and averse to innovation.
  • A swallow doesn't make a summer.
    A positive experience is nice, but it doesn't mean that things will only go uphill from now on. Too much should not be gleaned from a single event alone.
  • Blood is thicker than water.
    No connection is as strong as one with one's own family. Friends can be an important part of life, but they're never as close as one's own blood to relatives.
  • When the cat is out of the house, the mice dance on the table.
    Once a supervisor and authority figure is gone, discipline is over. Children drive nonsense when their parents leave the room, employees take a break when the boss goes outside. Without direct supervision, greater freedoms are gained.
  • Beggars can not be choosers.
    When the going gets tough, you have to do things that you wouldn't otherwise. When the situation calls for it, you have to be content with less and resort to extraordinary means in difficult situations.
  • Who wants to be beautiful must suffer.
    Exercise to keep fit; keep a diet and do without some things in order not to risk your good figure; the most beautiful outfits are usually not particularly comfortable. Looking particularly beautiful usually has its price.
  • Dealing right to all people is an art that no one can do.
    It is impossible to always want to please everyone - so don't even try. No matter how you act or what decisions you make, someone is always against it.
  • That doesn't go on a cow's skin.
    A cow skin is very resilient - if something does not go on a cow skin, it means that it is unbearable. This applies, for example, to the behavior of a person: "How he behaved does not affect a cow's skin."
  • Opportunity makes thieves.
    Most people are honest - yet many are willing to break one or the other rule if the opportunity presents itself.
  • You have to forge the iron while it's hot.
    Good opportunities disappear as quickly as they emerged. So you must take your chance while you can.
  • The dumbest farmers have the thickest potatoes.
    Mostly used disparagingly to say that someone without real skills is still successful. Even an idea that hasn't really been thought about can become a success.
  • Money makes the world go round.
    Those who have a lot of money have greater power, have more influence and opportunities in the world.
  • Out of sight, out of mind
    As soon as you can no longer see something, it is quickly forgotten.
  • Better dumb than stupid.
    Similar to the already mentioned "Talking is silver, silence is gold", the saying means that it is often better to remain silent. A stupid statement has more lasting consequences than a brief silence.
  • The rats are leaving the sinking ship.
    If a project threatens to fail, the first to flee who have to deal with it. Example: If a company is in a crisis, employees and managers quit.
  • Opposites attract.
    People who have little to no common ground seem to be particularly drawn to one another. As with a magnet, the opposing poles do not repel each other, but attract each other.
  • People of the same kind stick together.
    But there is also a suitable saying for the opposite: People who are particularly similar to one another immediately have a better connection with one another and get on very well.
  • Throw pearls in front of the swine.
    If someone doesn't appreciate a gift or a gesture, then literally throw something valuable away. Also generally means to waste something.
  • Once bitten, twice shy.
    Bad experiences have lasting effects and influence future decisions. If you've made a serious mistake, you are unlikely to repeat it again.
  • Time will tell.
    There may not be a solution in sight right now, but a way will be found over time. It takes patience to find a suitable path.
  • Practice creates masters.
    Similar to the saying, “A master has never fallen from heaven,” the saying means that you have to practice and repeat things for a long time to get really good at them.
  • Rome was not built within one day either.
    The bigger your goal, the more time and patience you need to bring. Don't give up too quickly, stick with it. Success will be achieved over a longer period of time.
  • Live and let live.
    Everyone can shape their life as they want - but should be tolerant of others who want something different. If everyone allows each other their own way of life, everyone is happy.
  • Every Jack has his Jill.
    There is a suitable partner for everyone. When two people find each other who go together perfectly, they are like a pot and lid that belong together.
  • Shoemaker, stick to your last Le.
    You should focus on the things that you are really good at. Don't talk about topics that you have no idea about.
  • Attack is the best defense.
    Defensive alone cannot win - it also takes a good attack. Those who are successful enough on the offensive no longer need to rely on the defensive.

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January 28, 2021Author: Nils Warkentin

Nils Warkentin studied business administration at the Justus Liebig University in Giessen. In the career bible, he is devoted to topics related to studies, career entry and everyday office life.

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