Definition of proverb in US English:



  • A short pithy saying in general use, stating a general truth or piece of advice.

    • ‘When I was younger I had had a Polish violin teacher, and she had told me a Yiddish proverb that proved to be the truth.’
    • ‘It's tough to choose a single epitaph for a man who invoked so many epigrams and proverbs.’
    • ‘Riddles and proverbs can influence each other and sometimes a piece of advice in proverb form can be turned into a riddle, or vice versa.’
    • ‘He gives his advice with old Iraqi proverbs and quotes from the Koran.’
    • ‘Norwegians tend to integrate sayings and proverbs into daily conversations.’
    • ‘Beware of proverbs: they are a snare and a delusion.’
    • ‘It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness, as a rough translation of a Chinese proverb goes.’
    • ‘Sheikh Mo, who fancies himself a prophet of modernisation, likes to impress visitors with clever proverbs and heavy aphorisms.’
    • ‘Songs, stories, proverbs, and sayings have been passed down over thousands of years.’
    • ‘Riddles, proverbs, and sayings that describe proper behavior for both young and old Kenyans are still common.’
    • ‘The sayings are in the form of proverbs, parables, aphorisms, and exhortations.’
    • ‘The epic by Waris is interspersed with proverbs, sayings, folktales, history and poetry par excellence.’
    • ‘I hate wise proverbs, as a rule, but the one about ‘all work and no play’ certainly springs to mind.’
    • ‘To quote a Kannada proverb it is like water off a buffalo's back.’
    • ‘They still exchange mnemonic sayings, adages and proverbs.’
    • ‘The shrewdness and sharpness of his proverbs and his forceful epigrams serve, in an exceptional degree, to make ethical ideas a popular possession.’
    • ‘There is literal truth in the proverb that habit is second nature.’
    • ‘Adinkra symbols usually represent popular proverbs, adages or traditional concepts in Ghanaian culture.’
    • ‘He is well known for weaving proverbs and traditional storytelling into the western form of the novel.’
    • ‘His sayings and proverbs, which embodied his philosophy of life, were handed down from generation to generation.’
    saying, adage, saw, maxim, axiom, motto, aphorism, epigram, gnome, dictum, precept
    View synonyms


Middle English: from Old French proverbe, from Latin proverbium, from pro- ‘(put) forth’ + verbum ‘word’.