List of Famous Proverbs in English with their meanings

Proverbs are the best way to Compare something indirectly. In this session let us share List of Famous Proverbs in English.

Goodness is better than greatness

Goodness means a good personality with appropriage sympathy, fellow feeling, respects for the superiors and love for the juniors, zeal and capability for hard working etc. Greatness means a high social rank. A millionaire, an emperor, a statesman etc., are all regarded as great persons in society. The good and the great are not necessarily combined. A man with enough human qualities may not be an important man in the society. Similarly the great men are not always good. An emperor may be an oppressor, or a millionaire a Merchant of Venice. Famous statesman are more liars and cunning that patriots. But a good man is certainly worthier than a great man; for it is the inner character, the human qualities of man, not his outward show or power that is much valuable. A great man, if not good comes down very often, while a good man rises gradually.

Rome was not built in a day

In the ancient Europe, Rome’s fame was widely spread with its far-flung empire, talented emperors and fabulous growth of material and cultural aspects. But this achievement was not reached overnight. Its foresighted and powerful kind in collaboration with its patrior countrymen earned this prosperity by a slow and steady progress through ages together. The same is true in case of other nations and individuals. Nobody can jump up to the peak of Everest, nor can earn profound wisdom within a moment. There are staghes to these achievements and each stage requires hard labour, profound patience and deep perservence. Solid success thus needs slow and steady progress. Gandhiji’s victory through non-violence, Gopabandhu’s sacrifice, Einstein’s scientific investigation and Sastriji’s social leadership are not achieved in a day. They are all the results of struggles and practices of their whole life. Only in dreams one can grow long beard overnight, but never in the real world.

A friend in need is friend indeed

Friends are lavishly when we are wealthy. Every hour they come, express their sincere love and deep affection for us; they say that so much is their love for us that even a day they cannot spend without us, and promise that by all means they will continue this friendship in future. By all their sympathy, attachment and well-wishes depart with the departure of our fortune. Hardly we see their faces even once a year…. in the days of difficulties. A true friend is very rare. He shares our sorrows and happiness equally. Nay, we see him more in the days of our misfortune than in that of prosperity. With all his help, even somtimes at the cost of his own life, he tries to save us from danger to fulfil our needs. According to Chanakya a true friend is he who helps us at the time of both prosperity and peril.

We live in deeds, not years

Gopabandhu, one of the pioneer of India’s political revolution, once said that human life is not a matter of years, months and days but of actions and only actions. The persons have been immortal on the pages of history not for the long duration of their living period, but for the works they have performed for their fellow-beings, for the generations together. A man of ninety years is not necessarily superior to a man who lives only up to his twenties. Contributions of Sankaracharya and Vivekananda to the spiritual field of the whole is far better than that of a man living some hundred years. Similarly, we remeber Keats today not because he lived long physically. Within only twenty-four years of his life he did so much of works that may be impossible for a man living four times his life.

Handsome is that handsome does

If action is the criterion of human life, personality must be judged by the nature of people’s action not by their physical appearance. Things are not what they seem, for a man may smile and smile and be a villain. A man may be very handsome in his physique, but the real beauty of a person is not a matter of physique only. Love and sympathy, purity of heart, clearness of thought and expression etc., are considered the elements of one’s inner beauty. Beauty attains perfection in a unique combination of both the aspects….. external and internal. But as this combination is rare, the internal beauty must be given importance, and it is the actions of a man where the inner beauty is full reflected. So one’s handsome character is ascertained if one’s actions are handsome. However beautiful a robber may be in appearance, everybody hates him for his deeds.

Variety is the spice of life

It is said in the Upanisads that God created this world out of himself to enjoy his own bliss. He was alone before and realized that loneliness brings monotony and ends in uneasy feelings. So this one become many……..night and day, sky and earth, good and bad, bitter and sweet and so on. This variety is indeed the source of bliss; and he lives a real life who tastes the various aspectgs of this world. Even the most precious dish irritates us if used daily. Sping would have no carm for us if there would be no winter. the monolit night is so enchanting because day is intolerable. If there is no life without struggle, a life full of struggles and liabilities only spils all its charm. Thus a life is perfect that paves though the varieties of experience.

The pen is mightier than the sword

A sword can kill only the persons present before it. But a pen affects innumerable persons and nations, intelligence and talent irrespective of their presence of absence. Physical power this happens to be inferior to mental power. A nation is guided not by the soldiers who are only the servants to the orders of the kings and diplomats who exercise their genius through pen. It is by a slight stroke of a pen that millions of swords jump into their diabolic dance. The words supersede the swords. As in destruction so also in the field of contruction the pen plays far more powerful a role than the swords. No nation is built by means of a sword i.e. by the threatening sounds of the force of a king. It is by the visions and ideas of the poet, philosophers and statemen that contries progress through reformation.

A stitch in time saves nine

A single and small rent in a piece of cloth expands gradually and if not stitched in time, the whole cloth is torn within a few days. If care is taken immediately and the rent is mended, it prevents nine or many other rents. Our life is just like a piece of cloth which is at every moment liable to rents, i.e. damages. We fall ill, suffer from the misunderstanding of our friends and from domestic, monetary and many other difficulties. If in all these cases precaution is taken immediately, the matter cannot go for. It will be checked, gives way to another. Attack of disease, for example, creates mental disturbance and causes monetary loss which gradually spoils our happiness. If the first damage is checked just at its outset, its accompanying damages will naturally be far off.

Truth is stranger than fiction

Fiction ordinarily means a false story devised by a writer to arouse the sense of wonder in the readers. Things that commonly happen are truth such as rising of the sun from the east, mortality of all the beings and the downward flow of the rivers etc. These incidents do not arouse wonder for we are aware of their regular happening. But the excessive height of the Brobdingnagians in the Gulliver’s Travels, the achievements of Alibaba and Allahdic in the Arabian Nights are all extraordinary. So they appear very strange to us. This is very common idea. But if we judge seriously we find truth is stranger than fiction. The discovery of reality breaking the cover of appearance certainly arouses more wonder in us. The theories, ideas and objects that the philosophers and scientists give us are strikingly wonderful not because they are all fictions, not because they are truths of nature, but because they are truths hidden from ordinary eyes.

Where love is, God is

It is said in the Hindu epics that once God said to Narada, his dearest devotee, that, He is present neither in Vaikuntha nor in the hearts of the Yogis practising heavy austerities, but in places where his devotees are singing hymns to Him with love. Love in its widest sense means a principle of attraction and attachment. This includes sympathy, nursing, fellow feeling and charity etc. In fact love, is born and brought up by the attraction of the whole world. A baby is born and brought up by the attraction of a male and a female into society, and a nation proceeds on the path of culture only because all individuals of the group are tied up by the rope of love. Thus God manifests Himself in this world through this principle of love, and so God realization is impossible without the practice of love.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread

One of the most valuable virtues of human beings is the awareness of one’s own limitations. However powerful and intelligent a man may be, he cannot dare to say that he is capable of performing all kinds of deeds at all times. Only a few people realise this truth. Others are ridiculously unaware of their weakness, and so without proper foresight they jump into every field and are harassed at last when all their efforts end in hopeless failure. They are fools, for as once Secretes said, they do not know that they are ignorant. On the other hand angels i.e. men with perfect self-awareness, foresight, sound calculative intelligence and profound humility do not venture to perform the deeds for which, they feel, they are not sufficiently strong. It is this considerate character and power of self-analysis that make man an angle.

Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts

In our real life sadness is always painful. We feel pain when we suffer ourselves or see others suffer from sorrow. We feel more sorry if our friends suffer, less if the sufferer is our enemy. But strangely enough, this feeling of pain changes into that of joy when the object is represented in art…. songs, plays and paintings etc. Not only that, the pleasing experience derived from the pathetic sences of art exceeds that derived from all other sentiments such as love, fury etc. That is because pity, the root of pathetic statement, is the most human among all the feelings and is rare in other lower animals. This infatuates us when happens really with a practical effect. Failure in loss, but in art it is only imaginary; so instead of affecting practically it rather appeals to our humanity most in arousing pity, and the more is its appeal, the more pleasing it is.

Discretion is the better part of valour

Valour is certainly an important human value. There is no use of life without sufficient courage to avoid danger and disadvantages. But as human power is limited this vapour must be used carefully. One may use it recklessly without a proper calculation of the situation. There he welcomes danger instead of avoiding it. However expert swimmer a man may be, he must consider the strength of current in a full-flooded river and how far he can succeed in crossing it when wind blows gustfully with heavy rainfall. Lacking this judgement, he may simply drown himself. Thus courage and physical power must be supplemented with discretion…… suiting the action to the circumstance. Then only it will be true bravery. Don Quixote’s adventures exhausted all in ridiculous failures for he did not exercise his valour in a discrete manner, while Gulliver with less valour but more discretion succeeded all through.

Better to wear out than to rust out

Mere possession is not enough. In this world of actions it is more important to use what we possess than to hanker after more possessions which without use will simply waste away. It is really encouraging to have good stuff of intelligence, but in course of time this stuff will fade unless it is exercised with zealous labour. It is wiser to spend our power properly than to simply lose it. So also in case of wealth and physical power. Rich people are generally miser. They like to hoard money and to stand simply as a guard to their treasury. They forget that nothing will go with them after death which is inevitable. So it is better, they should use it properly enjoying their own life and helping others in many respects. A man reaps better result who wears out his meagre possessions than another who simply increases the stuff that without use.

One man’s meat is another man’s poison

The world is of varieties; or in other words, variety is the fundamental principle of this world. From country to country and nation to nation physical construction, mental character, social custom and behavious, language, ways of living and thinking, food, dress and many other innumerable aspects of human beings change variously. Even in one family, children from the same womb possess strikingly different features. One may be pure, fair, handsome and well behaved with a vegetarian taste, while another just the opposite. One’s organic system is so made that he can digest sufficient amount of meat developing thus a very sturdy figure, while the other suffers from diarrhoea if he takes a single piece of meat. The fact is that in this world of many tastes no fixed criterion is possible. We have to judge various people from various angles of vision, and every one should judge his tastes and faculties before going to emulate others.

Might is right

In the pre-historic period might was the ground of all the rights. The moving tribes were breaking upon other tribes and, if were coming victorious in the fight, were capturing everything of them. This paved the way for oppression and tyranny. In course of time kingdoms were established and the kings tried their best to evade the attack of other mightier persons and from that time till now, constitutions of all the countries have tried to penalise heavily the persons who try to exercise this wild principle. But rarely have they been successful, for who can avoid the law of Nature ? Life in the universe is subject to one’s victory and other’s defeat in the struggle for existence. The stronger one becomes the longer one lives. This strength is not necessarily physical. Mental power must be included here; and from that point the pages of history prove sufficiently that might is right.