Norwegian proverbs
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Proverbs from around the world


African (see Ethiopian, Nigerian, and the separate page)

Examine what is said, not him who speaks.
When God wanted to doom the ant, he gave it wings.

To be willing is only half the task.
You don’t water a camel with a spoon.

Experience is the comb that nature gives us when we are bald.

Biblical (see also Biblical Book of Proverbs and Scripture Proverbs - external)
It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.
My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
Put not your trust in princes.
Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the street.

Do not protect yourself by a fence, but rather by your friends.

Chinese - see also separate page

When the student is ready, the master will appear.
Contributor: Roberto Wanton, July 1999

God gives every bird its food, but does not always drop it into the nest.

Alles van waarde is weerloos - Everything of value is defenseless.

English - see separate page

Estonian (see full external collections in Estonian and German)
Where you find fault with something, come and give a hand.

He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured.
When the great lord passes the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts.

In der Not frisst der Teufel Fliegen - When he has to, the devil eats flies.
Source: Walden Freedman
Place: Berkeley, California, US
Date: September 1, 1998
Context: "heard from my mother," who grew up in Austria.

The heart that loves is always young.

Hosech shivto sone bno -- He who spares the whip hates his son
Source: Zack Nagid
Place: Israel

Date: 11 September 2001

Italian - see separate page

A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle.
Fall seven times, stand up eight.
The rich man thinks of next year, the poor man of the present moment

A stranger nearby is better than a far-away relative.

Latin (cf. Latin phrases - external)
If there is no wind, row.

Instruction in youth is like engraving in stone.

Don't think there are no crocodiles because the water is calm.

Seperti katak di bawah tempurung -- Like frog underneath coconut shell.

Meaning: A frog which leaves under a cocunut shell will think that the shell is the world.  So, one who is like the frog will have no knowledge of
things/events/places aoutside his 'world'.  He refuses to venture out into the world-he remains ignorant but is happy with it.

Usage: "John was excluded from the discussion because he  could not contribute to it.  He was just like a frog under a coconut shell".

Contributed by Sabariah Md. Rashid, UPM in April 2002.

Native American
If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. (Minquass)
It's impossible to awaken someone who is pretending to be asleep. (Navajo, according to John Perry Barlow)
Man has responsibility, not power. (Tuscarora)
Talk to your children while they are eating; what you say will stay even after you are gone. (Nez Perce)

He who is being carried does not realize how far the town is.
Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.

Norwegian - see also separate page
Den må tidlig krøkes som god krok skal bli -
For someone to become a good hook, he or she must be bent early (in childhood)

Den må tidlig mores som god mor skal bli (jocular)
For someone to become a good mother, she must be amused early (relies on word play)

Adversity makes a man wise, not rich.
If you wish good advice, consult an old man.

Russian - see also separate page
A priest's beard is always soaked in butter.
Tell me who's your friend and I'll tell you who you are.
You can get to the ends of the world on a lie, but you cannot return.

What may be done at any time will be done at no time.
With lies you may go ahead in the world, but you can never go back.

Spanish - see also separate page
After all, to make a beautiful omelet you have to break an egg.
Don't speak unless you can improve on the silence.

A mucho decir, mucho mentir.
Cría cuervos y te sacarán los ojos.
De mala mata, nunca buena zarza.
Dios aprieta, pero no ahorca.
Entre broma y broma, la verdad se asoma.
Favor con favor se paga.
Gallina vieja hace buen caldo.
Más discurre un hambriento que cien letrados.
Mientras en mi casa estoy, rey soy.
No hay miel sin hiel.
Palabras de boca, piedra de honda.
Una vez al año no hace daño.

A quien buen arbol se arrima, buena sombra le acarrece.
Translation: He who gets close to a good tree, will have a good shade.
Interpretation: If you associate with good people, good things will happen to you.
Contributor: Roberto Wanton, August 1999

Don't throw away the old bucket until you know whether the new one holds water.
Go often to the house of a friend; for weeds soon choke up the unused path.
Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow.

Measure a thousand times and cut once.
No matter how far you have gone on a wrong road, turn back.

Tatli dil yilani deliginden cikarir - Kind words take the snake out of his hole.
Source: Rusdiye Gurbuz  <>
Place: Istanbul, Turkey
Date: September 1, 1998.


Adfyd a ddwg wybodaeth, a gwybodaeth doethineb.
Adversity brings knowledge and knowledge, wisdom.

Everyone is kneaded out of the same dough, but not baked in the same oven.
God couldn't be everywhere, so he created mothers.
If all men pulled in one direction, the world would topple over.
If you sit in a hot bath, you think the whole town is warm.

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Norwegian proverbs
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