Proverb

Proverb

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Proverb'
Start a new discussion about 'Proverb'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
A proverb is a simple and concrete saying
Saying
A saying is something that is said, notable in one respect or another, to be "a pithy expression of wisdom or truth."There are a number of specific types of saying:...

 popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical. A proverb that describes a basic rule of conduct may also be known as a maxim
Maxim (philosophy)
A maxim is a ground rule or subjective principle of action; in that sense, a maxim is a thought that can motivate individuals.- Deontological ethics :...

. If a proverb is distinguished by particularly good phrasing, it may be known as an aphorism
Aphorism
An aphorism is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic and memorable form.The term was first used in the Aphorisms of Hippocrates...

.

Proverbs are often borrowed from similar languages and cultures, and sometimes come down to the present through more than one language. Both the Bible (Book of Proverbs
Book of Proverbs
The Book of Proverbs , commonly referred to simply as Proverbs, is a book of the Hebrew Bible.The original Hebrew title of the book of Proverbs is "Míshlê Shlomoh" . When translated into Greek and Latin, the title took on different forms. In the Greek Septuagint the title became "paroimai paroimiae"...

) and medieval Latin have played a considerable role in distributing proverbs across Europe, although almost every culture has examples of its own.

Examples

  • Haste makes waste
  • A stitch in time saves nine.
  • Ignorance is bliss
  • Mustn't cry over spilt milk.
  • You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.
  • Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • Well begun is half done.
  • A little learning is a dangerous thing.
  • Don't poke the bear.

Paremiology


The study of proverbs is called: paremiology (from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 παροιμία - paroimía, "proverb") and can be dated back as far as Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

. Paremiography
Paremiography
Paremiography is the study of the collection and writing of proverbs. It is a sub-field of paremiology, the study of proverbs.There are many published collection of proverbs, ranging from ancient Akkadian clay tablets to internet sites. Published collections of proverbs are formatted in a variety...

, on the other hand, is the collection of proverbs. A prominent proverb scholar in the United States is Wolfgang Mieder
Wolfgang Mieder
Wolfgang Mieder is professor of German and folklore at the University of Vermont, in Burlington, Vermont, USA. He is a graduate of Olivet College , the University of Michigan , and Michigan State University...

. He has written or edited over 50 books on the subject, edits the journal Proverbium (journal)
Proverbium (journal)
Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship is an academic journal devoted to paremiology, the study of proverbs. It is published annually by the University of Vermont and has been edited by Wolfgang Mieder, professor of German and folklore at the university, since the journal's...

, has written innumerable articles on proverbs, and is very widely cited by other proverb scholars. Mieder defines the term proverb as follows:
Sub-genres include proverbial comparisons (“as busy as a bee”), proverbial interrogatives (“Does a chicken have lips?”) and twin formulae (“give and take”).

Another subcategory is wellerism
Wellerism
Wellerisms, named after Sam Weller in Charles Dickens's The Pickwick Papers, make fun of established clichés and proverbs by showing that they are wrong in certain situations, often when taken literally. In this sense, wellerisms that include proverbs are a type of anti-proverb...

s
, named after Sam Weller from Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

's The Pickwick Papers
The Pickwick Papers
The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club is the first novel by Charles Dickens. After the publication, the widow of the illustrator Robert Seymour claimed that the idea for the novel was originally her husband's; however, in his preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens strenuously denied any...

(1837). They are constructed in a triadic manner which consists of a statement (often a proverb), an identification of a speaker (person or animal) and a phrase that places the statement into an unexpected situation. Ex.: “Every evil is followed by some good,” as the man said when his wife died the day after he became bankrupt.

Yet another category of proverb is the anti-proverb
Anti-proverb
An anti-proverb is the transformation of a stereotype word sequence – as e. g. a proverb, a quotation, or an idiom – for humorous effect. To have full effect, an anti-proverb must be based on a known proverb...

 (Mieder and Litovkina 2002), also called Perverb
Perverb
A perverb , also known as an anti-proverb, is a humorous modification of a known proverb, usually by changing its ending in a way that surprises or confounds the listener....

. In such cases, people twist familiar proverbs to change the meaning. Sometimes the result is merely humorous, but the most spectacular examples result in the opposite meaning of the standard proverb. Examples include, "Nerds of a feather flock together", "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and likely to talk about it," and "Absence makes the heart grow wander". Anti-proverbs are common on T-shirts, such as "If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you."

A similar form is proverbial expressions (“to bite the dust”). The difference is that proverbs are unchangeable sentences, while proverbial expressions permit alterations to fit the grammar of the context.

Another close construction is an allusion
Allusion
An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, or representation of, people, places, events, literary work, myths, or works of art, either directly or by implication. M. H...

 to a proverb, such as "The new boss will probably fire some of the old staff, you know what they say about a 'new broom'," alluding to the proverb "The new broom will sweep clean."

Typical stylistic features of proverbs (as Shirley Arora points out in her article, The Perception of Proverbiality (1984)) are:
  • Alliteration
    Alliteration
    In language, alliteration refers to the repetition of a particular sound in the first syllables of Three or more words or phrases. Alliteration has historically developed largely through poetry, in which it more narrowly refers to the repetition of a consonant in any syllables that, according to...

     (Forgive and forget)
  • Parallelism
    Parallelism (rhetoric)
    Parallelism means giving two or more parts of the sentences a similar form so as to give the whole a definite pattern.Parallelisms of various sorts are the chief rhetorical device of Biblical poetry in Hebrew. In fact, Robert Lowth coined the term "parallelismus membrorum Parallelism means giving...

     (Nothing ventured, nothing gained)
  • Rhyme
    Rhyme
    A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words and is most often used in poetry and songs. The word "rhyme" may also refer to a short poem, such as a rhyming couplet or other brief rhyming poem such as nursery rhymes.-Etymology:...

     (When the cat is away, the mice will play)
  • Ellipsis (Once bitten, twice shy)


In some languages, assonance
Assonance
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse. For example, in the phrase "Do you like blue?", the is repeated within the sentence and is...

, the repetition of a vowel, is also exploited in forming artistic proverbs, such as the following extreme example from Oromo
Oromo language
Oromo, also known as Afaan Oromo, Oromiffa, Afan Boran, Afan Orma, and sometimes in other languages by variant spellings of these names , is an Afro-Asiatic language, and the most widely spoken of the Cushitic family. Forms of Oromo are spoken as a first language by more than 25 million Oromo and...

, of Ethiopia.
  • kan mana baala, a’laa gaala (“A leaf at home, but a camel elsewhere"; somebody who has a big reputation among those who do not know him well.)


Internal features that can be found quite frequently include:
  • Hyperbole
    Hyperbole
    Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally....

     (All is fair in love and war)
  • Paradox
    Paradox
    Similar to Circular reasoning, A paradox is a seemingly true statement or group of statements that lead to a contradiction or a situation which seems to defy logic or intuition...

     (For there to be peace there must first be war)
  • Personification (Hunger is the best cook)


To make the respective statement more general most proverbs are based on a metaphor
Metaphor
A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via...

. Further typical features of the proverb are its shortness (average: seven words), and the fact that its author is generally unknown (otherwise it would be a quotation).
In the article “Tensions in Proverbs: More Light on International Understanding,” Joseph Raymond comments on what common Russian proverbs
Russian proverbs
Russian language proverbs are words of wisdom created in Slavic languages by Slavic peoples. The proverbs originated from oral history and ancient written texts dating as far back as the 12th century...

 from the 18th and 19th centuries portray: Potent antiauthoritarian proverbs reflected tensions between the Russian people and the Czar. The rollickingly malicious undertone of these folk verbalizations constitutes what might be labeled a ‘paremiological revolt.’ To avoid openly criticizing a given authority or cultural pattern, folk take recourse to proverbial expressions which voice personal tensions in a tone of generalized consent. Thus, personal involvement is linked with public opinion Proverbs that speak to the political disgruntlement include: “When the Czar spits into the soup dish, it fairly bursts with pride”; “If the Czar be a rhymester, woe be to the poets”; and “The hen of the Czarina herself does not lay swan’s eggs.” While none of these proverbs state directly, “I hate the Czar and detest my situation” (which would have been incredibly dangerous), they do get their points across.

Proverbs are found in many parts of the world, but some areas seem to have richer stores of proverbs than others (such as West Africa), while others have hardly any (North and South America) (Mieder 2004b:108,109).

Proverbs are often borrowed across lines of language, religion, and even time. For example, a proverb of the approximate form “No flies enter a mouth that is shut” is currently found in Spain, Ethiopia, and many countries in between. It is embraced as a true local proverb in many places and should not be excluded in any collection of proverbs because it is shared by the neighbors. However, though it has gone through multiple languages and millennia, the proverb can be traced back to an ancient Babylonian proverb (Pritchard 1958:146).

Proverbs are used by speakers for a variety of purposes. Sometimes they are used as a way of saying something gently, in a veiled way (Obeng 1996). Other times, they are used to carry more weight in a discussion, a weak person is able to enlist the tradition of the ancestors to support his position, or even to argue a legal case. Proverbs can also be used to simply make a conversation/discussion more lively. In many parts of the world, the use of proverbs is a mark of being a good orator.

The study of proverbs has application in a number of fields. Clearly, those who study folklore
Folklore
Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of a culture, subculture, or group. It is also the set of practices through which those expressive genres are shared. The study of folklore is sometimes called...

 and literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

 are interested in them, but scholars from a variety of fields have found ways to profitably incorporate the study proverbs. For example, they have been used to study abstract reasoning of children, acculturation of immigrants, intelligence, the differing mental processes in mental illness, cultural themes, etc. Proverbs have also been incorporated into the strategies of social workers, teachers, preachers, and even politicians. (For the deliberate use of proverbs as a propaganda tool by Nazis, see Mieder 1982.)

There are collections of sayings that offer instructions on how to play certain games, such as dominoes
Dominoes
Dominoes generally refers to the collective gaming pieces making up a domino set or to the subcategory of tile games played with domino pieces. In the area of mathematical tilings and polyominoes, the word domino often refers to any rectangle formed from joining two congruent squares edge to edge...

 (Borajo et al. 1990) and the Oriental board game go
Go (board game)
Go , is an ancient board game for two players that originated in China more than 2,000 years ago...

 (Mitchell 2001). However, these are not prototypical proverbs in that their application is limited to one domain.

One of the most important developments in the study of proverbs (as in folklore scholarship more generally) was the shift to more ethnographic appraoches in the 1960s. This approach attempted to explain proverb use in relation to the context of a speech event, rather than only in terms of the content and meaning of the proverb.

Another important development in scholarship on proverbs has been applying methods from cognitive science to understand the uses and effects of proverbs and proverbial metaphors in social relations.

Use in conversation


Proverbs are used in conversation by adults more than children, partially because adults have learned more proverbs than children. Also, using proverbs well is a skill that is developed over years. Proverbs, because they are indirect, allow a speaker to disagree or give advice in a way that may be less offensive. Studying actual proverb use in conversation, however, is difficult since the researcher must wait for proverbs to happen.

Use in literature


Many authors have used proverbs in their novels, also film makers. Probably the most famous user of proverbs in novels is J. R. R. Tolkien
J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College,...

 in his The Hobbit
The Hobbit
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

and The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...

series. These two books are notable for not only using proverbs as integral to the development of the characters and the story line, but also for creating proverbs. Among medieval literary texts, Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

's Troilus and Criseyde
Troilus and Criseyde
Troilus and Criseyde is a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer which re-tells in Middle English the tragic story of the lovers Troilus and Criseyde set against a backdrop of war in the Siege of Troy. It was composed using rime royale and probably completed during the mid 1380s. Many Chaucer scholars regard it...

 plays a special role because Chaucer's usage seems to challenge the truth value of proverbs by exposing their epistemological unreliability.

In film, the best known example of rich proverb use is Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic comedy-drama romance film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis, starring Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and Gary Sinise...

, again known for both using and creating proverbs. Other studies of the use of proverbs in film include work by Kevin McKenna on the Russian film Aleksandr Nevsky, Haase's study of an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood
Little Red Riding Hood, also known as Little Red Cap, is a French fairy tale about a young girl and a Big Bad Wolf. The story has been changed considerably in its history and subject to numerous modern adaptations and readings....

, and Elias Dominguez Barajas on the film Viva Zapata!
Viva Zapata!
Viva Zapata! is a 1952 fictional-biographical film directed by Elia Kazan. The screenplay was written by John Steinbeck, using as a guide Edgcomb Pinchon's book, 'Zapata the Unconquerable', a fact that is not credited in the titles of the film...

.

Some authors have bent and twisted proverbs, creating anti-proverbs, for a vartiety of literary effects. For example, in the Harry Potter
Harry Potter
Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

 novels, J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling
Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE , better known as J. K. Rowling, is the British author of the Harry Potter fantasy series...

 reshapes a standard English proverb into “It’s no good crying over spilt potion” and Dumbledore
advises Harry not to “count your owls before they are delivered”. In a slightly different use of reshaping proverbs, in the Aubrey–Maturin series
Aubrey–Maturin series
The Aubrey–Maturin series is a sequence of nautical historical novels—20 completed and one unfinished—by Patrick O'Brian, set during the Napoleonic Wars and centering on the friendship between Captain Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy and his ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin, who is also a physician,...

 of historical naval novels by Patrick O'Brian
Patrick O'Brian
Patrick O'Brian, CBE , born Richard Patrick Russ, was an English novelist and translator, best known for his Aubrey–Maturin series of novels set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and centred on the friendship of English Naval Captain Jack Aubrey and the Irish–Catalan physician Stephen...

, Capt. Jack Aubrey
Jack Aubrey
John "Jack" Aubrey, KB , is a fictional character in the Aubrey–Maturin series of novels by Patrick O'Brian. The series portrays his rise from Lieutenant to Rear-Admiral in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. The twenty -book series encompasses Aubrey's adventures and various commands along...

 humorously mangles and mis-splices proverbs, such as “Never count the bear’s skin before it is hatched” and “There’s a good deal to be said for making hay while the iron is hot.”

Some authors have used so many proverbs that there have been entire books written cataloging their proverb usage, such as Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

, Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie
Dame Agatha Christie DBE was a British crime writer of novels, short stories, and plays. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best remembered for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections , and her successful West End plays.According to...

, and George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

.

Sources of proverbs


Proverbs come from a variety of sources. Some are, indeed, the result of people pondering, such as some by Confucius, Plato, etc. Others are taken from such diverse sources as songs, commercials, advertisements, movies, literature, etc. A number of the well known sayings of Jesus, Shakespeare, and others have become proverbs, though they were original at the time of their creation. Many proverbs are also based on stories, often the end of a story. For example, "Who will bell the cat?" is the end of a story about the mice planning how to be safe from the cat.

Paremiological minimum


Grigorii Permjakov developed the concept of the core set of proverbs that full members of society know, what he called the "paremiological minimum" (1979). For example, an adult American is expected to be familiar with "Birds of a feather flock together", part of the American paremiological minimum. However, an average adult American is not expected to know "Fair in the cradle, foul in the saddle", an old English proverb that is not part of the current American paremiological minimum. Two noted examples of attempts to establish a paremiological minimum in America are by Haas (2008) and Hirsch, Kett, and Trefil (1988). Studies of the paremiological minimum have been done for a limited number of languages, including Hungarian, Czech, Somali, and Esperanto
Esperanto
is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto , the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887...

.

Proverbs in visual form


From ancient times, people have recorded proverbs in visual form. This has been done in two ways. First, proverbs have been written to be displayed, oftentimes in a decorative manner, such as on pottery, cross-stitch, and quilts.

Secondly, proverbs have often been visually depicted in a variety of media, including paintings, etchings, and sculpture. Probably the most famous examples of this are the different paintings of Netherlandish Proverbs
Netherlandish Proverbs
Netherlandish Proverbs is a 1559 oil-on-oak-panel painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder which depicts a land populated with literal renditions of Flemish proverbs of the day...

by the father and son Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Pieter Brueghel the Younger
Pieter Brueghel the Younger
Pieter Brueghel the Younger /ˈpitəɾ ˈbɾøːxəl/ was a Flemish painter, known for numerous copies after his father Pieter Brueghel the Elder's paintings and nicknamed "Hell Brueghel" for his fantastic treatments of fire and grotesque imagery.-Life:Pieter Brueghel the Younger was the oldest son of the...

, these paintings and their proverbial meanings being the subject a 2004 conference, which led to a published volume of studies (Mieder 2004a). Another famous painting depicting some proverbs and also idioms (leading to a series of paintings) is Proverbidioms
Proverbidioms
Proverbidioms is an oil painting by American artist T. E. Breitenbach depicting over 300 common proverbs, catchphrases, and clichés such as "You are what you eat", "a frog in the throat", and "kicked the bucket". It is painted on a 45 by 67 inch wooden panel and was completed in 1975 after two...

by T. E. Breitenbach
T. E. Breitenbach
Thomas E. Breitenbach is a self-taught American artist best known for his painting Proverbidioms, a raucous and comical depiction of over 300 common proverbs and clichés. He also collaborated with Jim Morrison of The Doors, shortly before Morrison's death, on a painting intended for use on his An...

. A bibliography on proverbs in visual form has been prepared by Mieder and Sobieski (1999).

Proverbs in advertising


Proverbs are frequently used in advertising, often in slightly modified form. Ford once advertised its Thunderbird with, "One drive is worth a thousand words" (Mieder 2004b: 84). This is doubly interesting since the underlying proverb behind this, "One picture is worth a thousand words," was originally introduced into the English proverb repertoire in an ad for televisions (Mieder 2004b: 83).

A few of the many proverbs adapted and used in advertising include:
  • "Live by the sauce, dine by the sauce" (Buffalo Wildwings)
  • "At D & D Dogs, you can teach an old dog new tricks" (D & D Dogs)
  • "If at first you don't succeed, you're using the wrong equipment" (John Deere
    John Deere
    John Deere was an American blacksmith and manufacturer who founded Deere & Company, one of the largest and leading agricultural and construction equipment manufacturers in the world...

    )
  • "A pfennig saved is a pfennig earned." (Volkswagen)
  • "Not only absence makes the heart grow fonder." (Godiva chocolates)


The GEICO
GEICO
The Government Employees Insurance Company is an auto insurance company. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway that as of 2007 provided coverage for more than 10 million motor vehicles owned by more than 9 million policy holders. GEICO writes private passenger automobile insurance...

 company has created a series of television ads that are built around proverbs, such as "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush": and "The pen is mightier than the sword"

Sources for proverb study


A seminal work in the study of proverbs is Archer Taylor's The Proverb, later republished with an index by Wolfgang Mieder (1985). A good introduction to the study of proverbs is Mieder's 2004 volume, Proverbs: A Handbook. Mieder has also published a series of bibliography volumes on proverb research, as well as a large number of articles and other books in the field. Stan Nussbaum has edited a large collection on proverbs of Africa, published on a CD, including reprints of out-of-print collections, original collections, and works on analysis, bibliography, and application of proverbs to Christian ministry (1998). Paczolay has compared proverbs across Europe and published a collection of similar proverbs in 55 languages (1997). Mieder edits an academic journal of proverb study, Proverbium
Proverbium (journal)
Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship is an academic journal devoted to paremiology, the study of proverbs. It is published annually by the University of Vermont and has been edited by Wolfgang Mieder, professor of German and folklore at the university, since the journal's...

(ISSN: 0743-782X). A volume containing articles on a wide variety of topics touching on proverbs was edited by Mieder and Alan Dundes
Alan Dundes
Alan Dundes, was a folklorist at the University of California, Berkeley. His work was said to have been central to establishing the study of folklore as an academic discipline. He wrote 12 books, both academic and popular, and edited or co-wrote two dozen more...

 (1994/1981).

See also

  • Book of proverbs
    Book of Proverbs
    The Book of Proverbs , commonly referred to simply as Proverbs, is a book of the Hebrew Bible.The original Hebrew title of the book of Proverbs is "Míshlê Shlomoh" . When translated into Greek and Latin, the title took on different forms. In the Greek Septuagint the title became "paroimai paroimiae"...

  • List of proverbial phrases
  • Old wives' tale
    Old wives' tale
    An old wives' tale is a type of urban legend, similar to a proverb, which is generally passed down by old wives to a younger generation. Such "tales" usually consist of superstition, folklore or unverified claims with exaggerated and/or untrue details. Today old wives' tales are still common among...

  • Saw (saying)
    Saw (saying)
    A saw is an old saying or commonly repeated phrase or idea; a conventional wisdom. While "old saw" is a common cliché, some consider it a tautology....

  • Wiktionary:Proverbs
  • Wikiquote:English proverbs

External links


Serious websites related to the study of proverbs, and some that list regional proverbs:

A bibliography of first edition publications (and modern editions where they ease understanding) of proverb collections: