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30 English proverbs that will be useful in different life situations

Proverbs in English will help to better understand the people who invented them, and also make your speech more alive and richer. Life hacker assembled the most interesting 30.

Фото: Depositphotos

1. The squeaky wheel gets the grease

  • Translation: lubricate the wheel that creaks.
  • Meaning: you will not get help if you silently endure the inconvenience, you must ask for services.
  • Analog in Russian: a rolling stone gathers no moss.

This is an American proverb. Authorship is attributed to humorist Josh Billings, but the facts are not confirmed. You can only talk about the time of the appearance of the phrase - the second half of the XIX century.

2. Actions speak louder than words

  • Translation: actions speak louder than words.
  • Meaning: what you do is more important than what you say.
  • Analog in Russian: judge not by words but by deeds.

It is believed that this phrase appeared in the XVII century. In its current form, it was first used by Abraham Lincoln in 1856.

3. A picture is worth a thousand words

  • Translation: an image is worth a thousand words.
  • Meaning: it is easier to believe in something if you see it with your own eyes, and not be content with other people's stories.
  • Analog in Russian: Better to see once than hear a hundred times.

The proverb began to be actively used in America in the 1920s. And the first mention, recorded in written sources, refers to 1911, when this phrase was voiced by the editor of a newspaper in the Syracuse Men's Advertising Club.

4. A watched pot never boils

  • Translation: if you constantly look at the kettle, it will never boil.
  • Meaning: if a process takes time, you don’t need to constantly check whether it’s completed, just wait.

The phrase brought into use by Benjamin Franklin. He uses it in a report published in the 1785 year, with reference to Poor Richard. It is noteworthy that under this pseudonym Franklin himself wrote.

5. A bad workman blames his tools

  • Translation: a bad worker blames his tool for failure.
  • Meaning: a person who is badly able to do something is looking for the causes of his failures anywhere, just not in himself.
  • Analog in Russian: bad dancer feet interfere.

Most likely, the saying came to English from French: the first mention of the phrase in sources from France is found in the XIII century, in English - only in the XVII century.

6. A bird's song

  • Translation: the bird can be recognized by the way it sings.
  • Meaning: much about a person can be understood by what he says and does.
  • Analog in Russian: the bird is visible in flight.

Little is known about the origin of this proverb, one can only say that it has a longer version, which leaves no options for interpretation: "A bird is known by its song, a man by his words" ("You can recognize a bird by she sings, of man - by what he says. ").

7. You can drink it

  • Translation: you can lead a horse to the water, but you cannot make it drink.
  • Meaning: not everything can be achieved by force, others will still do what they want.

This is one of the oldest English proverbs, which is still used today. The first mention dates back to 1175.

8. When in Rome

  • Translation: if you are in Rome, behave like a Roman.
  • Meaning: getting into a new place or situation, look at how the majority behaves, and do the same.
  • Analog in Russian: in a strange monastery with its charter do not go.

The expression is first encountered in the letter of Christian Saint Aurelius Augustine in 390. He wrote something like the following: “When I am in Rome, I fast on Saturdays, but I don’t do it in Milan. Always follow the customs of the church you attend if you don’t want a scandal. ”

9. There is no time like the present

  • Translation: no time is better than the present.
  • Meaning: do not wait for the right moment, do what you need right now.
  • Analogs in Russian: do not postpone for tomorrow what you can do today; do not wait for the weather by the sea.

This proverb was first recorded in the 1562 year. Later, John Trasler, one of the drafters of the collection of sayings, unwrapped this phrase to “No time is better than the present, a thousand unforeseen circumstances may prevent you in the future.” ". But caught a concise option.

10. There is no such thing as a free lunch

  • Translation: There is no such thing as a free lunch.
  • Meaning: you have to pay for everything, and if you don’t give you money now, you may have to say goodbye to something more valuable later.
  • Analog in Russian: free cheese is only in a mousetrap.

In the middle of the XIX century in the UK and the United States under the announcement of free dinners disguised advertising, which implied other spending. For example, in one of the saloons in Milwaukee, they were supposed to feed "for free" those who would buy a cigar or drink. Of course, the cost of meals served were included in the price of alcohol or cigars. Because of these ads, some institutions have been prosecuted for unfair advertising.

11. The pen is mightier than the sword

  • Translation: the feather is stronger than the sword.
  • Meaning: the right words are more convincing than physical strength; words can hurt hurt.
  • Analog in Russian: Do not be afraid of the knife - language.

This is an exact quotation from Edward Boulevard-Lytton’s play “Richelieu, or the Conspiracy,” written in the 1839 year. However, in other formulations, this idea was previously expressed by George Wetstone and William Shakespeare.

12. Practice makes perfect

  • Translation: practice leads to excellence.
  • Meaning: the more you train, the better it turns out.
  • Analog in Russian: repetition is the mother of learning.

The first mentions of proverbs refer to the middle of the XVI century. It is translated into English from Latin.

13. People who are not throw stones

  • Translation: people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
  • Meaning: do not condemn and criticize, if he himself is not perfect.
  • Analog in Russian: he does not see the log in his own eye, he notices in another mote.

The expression in this formulation is found in Jeffrey Chaucer’s poem “Troilus and Cressida,” written at the end of the fourteenth century. The phrase has got accustomed and is quite often used until now.

14. God helps those who help themselves

  • Translation: God helps those who help themselves.
  • Meaning: in a difficult situation you should not hope for a miracle, you need to act to change everything.
  • Analog in Russian: Hope for God, but you shall not do it yourself.

The proverb was used in ancient Greece. Sometimes its source is mistakenly called the Bible, although such a phrase is not literally found in it. On the contrary, many Christians criticize this expression as contrary to dogma.

15. Don't put too many irons in the fire

  • Translation: Don't put too much coal on the fire.
  • Meaning: don't take too much of yourself; focus on one thing.

The expression came from forge shops. It is connected with the work of the apprentice, whose task was to rearrange the products with the help of forging tongs from the fire on the anvil. And if there were too many forceps in the furnace, this made the work ineffective, since the blacksmith could not work on several objects at the same time.

16. Birds of a feather flock together

  • Translation: birds gather in a flock by feathers.
  • Meaning: people with common interests easily converge.
  • Analog in Russian: birds of a feather flock together.

The proverb has been used since the middle of the XVI century. The literature is first mentioned by William Turner in The Rescuing of Romish Fox.

17. Beggars can't be choosers

  • Translation: beggars cannot choose.
  • Meaning: in a difficult situation you should not refuse any help.
  • Analog in Russian: they do not look at a given horse's teeth.

This phrase was first recorded by the poet and playwright John Haywood in the 16th century. She was addressed to the poor and called for thanks for any help and support.

18. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

  • Translation: a pinch of "before" is worth a pound of "after."
  • Meaning: it is easier to prevent than to eliminate the consequences.
  • Analog in Russian: road spoon for dinner.

In 1736, Benjamin Franklin, at a meeting with firefighters in Philadelphia, uttered this phrase, warning of the need to protect against natural disasters.

19. An apple a day keeps the doctor away

  • Translation: An apple a day, and a doctor is not needed.
  • Meaning: literal.

The expression was widely spread after the publication in the Welsh magazine "Notes and Requests" in Pembrokeshire 1866, the proverb from Pembrokeshire: "Eat an apple before going to bed, and you will not pay anything to the doctor."

20. A leopard can't change its spots

  • Translation: Leopard can not change their spots.
  • Meaning: people do not change.
  • Analog in Russian: leopard change his spots.

The expression is borrowed from the Bible. The Book of the Prophet Jeremiah says: “Can the Ethiopian change his skin and the leopard his spots? So can you do good by becoming accustomed to doing evil? ”

21. You can't teach an old dog

  • Translation: you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
  • Meaning: it is difficult to wean someone from old habits.
  • Analog in Russian: leopard change his spots.

One of the oldest proverbs in the English language, written sources first mentioned in the XVI century.

22. Do not keep a dog and bark yourself

  • Translation: do not keep the dog and bark while it yourself.
  • Meaning: No need to pay someone for the work that you still have to do yourself.

The expression first appears in the Philotimus: The Warre Betwixt Nature and Fortune work by Brian Milbank in 1583. It sounds from the mouth of the philosopher and doctor Filotima, who lived in the IV century in Greece.

23. Discretion is the better part of valour

  • Translation: prudence is the best part of valor.
  • Meaning: before you do something, you should think about whether it is worth it.
  • Analog in Russian: Seven times measure cut once.

The phrase “The better part of valour is discretion” is pronounced by Sir John Falstaff in the first part of William Shakespeare’s play “Henry IV.”

24. Children should be seen and not heard

  • Translation: children should be visible, but not audible.
  • Meaning: literal.

This rule of education was adopted in England during the reign of Queen Victoria. However, its first mention refers to the 1450 year.

25. Charity begins at home

  • Translation: charity begins at home.
  • Meaning: Before you take care of others, you need to take care of yourself and your family.

Sometimes the source of the phrase is mistakenly called the Bible. In fact, for the first time, the expression in such a formulation is encountered by the theologian John Wycliffe at the end of the XIV century. Although the first epistle of Paul to Timothy contains a very similar idea: “And if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them learn to show their piety first of all towards their household and give due care to parents and grandfathers.”

26. Curiosity killed the cat

  • Translation: curiosity killed the cat.
  • Meaning: not worth the nose not in their affairs.
  • Analog in Russian: curious Barbara in the bazaar nose tore off.

The initial expression was: “Care killed the cat”. And care meant not care, but sadness or sadness. In this version, the proverb existed until the end of the XIX century, and only after that it acquired a modern look. However, curiosity was never encouraged, so this transformation seems logical.

27. Better to light a candle

  • Translation: it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
  • Meaning: instead of blaming the circumstances, you need to do something to change them.

The phrase is attributed to John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt, and even to the Chinese people, but for the first time it sounds in the William Watkinson sermon collection, published in 1907 year.

28. A blind horse

  • Translation: nodding a blind horse is the same as winking at her.
  • Meaning: a person who is not ready to accept information, it does not convey.

Analog in Russian: fool that in the forehead, that on the forehead.

The phrase appeared in England in the XVI century. Now, instead of a horse, a bat could be proverbial: “ In this form, the expression was used in the British sketch-series "Monty Python's Flying Circus".

29. Great minds think alike

  • Translation: great minds think alike.
  • Meaning: people with the same mental abilities can think of the same thing at the same time.
  • Analog in Russian: fools of thoughts converge.

This formulation of the phrase was first recorded in 1816 in the English-speaking biography of Evdokia Lopukhina, the first wife of Peter I. However, this idea has been encountered before.

30. A golden key can open any door

  • Translation: golden key can open any door.
  • Meaning: for money you can buy anything.

This saying should be as old as money itself. But it was recorded for the first time in 1580 by English playwright John Lilly.

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