American English Proverbs Volume 1 By Jeremiah Bourque
A Bird In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush. Subject: Risk To risk what you already have for something that you do not have, and may never obtain, is often foolish. Wise people gamble only what they can afford to lose.
A Penny Saved Is A Penny Earned Subject: Finance ď Ž First, one can only save money after earning money. Two, saving preserves money that has been earned through hard work. ď Ž
As The Crow Flies Subject: Distance “Six miles as the crow flies” means six miles in a straight line. This does not include the extra distance one must travel to follow roads (for example). A crow would travel six miles, but you might have to drive eight!
Better Late Than Never Subject: Time ď Ž Except in the case of deadlines (when being late kills you, figuratively speaking), it is better to finish something late than never (that is, not at all). This also applies to arriving late to a meeting etc. ď Ž
Close, But No Cigar Subject: Near Misses This means, a person has come close to accomplishing some goal, but has failed. There is no reward. Cigars could be given out as rewards for success, but anti-smoking campaigns have made this rarer.
Clothes Make The Man Subject: Clothing ď Ž A man is respected for how he dresses. If he dresses in a business suit, he is respected as a businessman or government employee. If he dresses like a common criminal, he is treated like one. ď Ž
Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You Subject: Gratitude A dog that bites the hand that feeds it is being ungrateful to its owner and master. Similarly, a person who is dependent on the charity of another should not do harm to the benefactor – or no more food for him.
He Who Laughs Last, Laughs Loudest. Subject: Revenge It is thought that he who “has the last laugh” (he who delivers the final insult to another) is the happier person, and therefore “laughs loudest” (and gloats).
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It Subject: Waste (Note: “ain’t” IS NOT a valid word!! It lives on in this proverb, however.) If something is not broken, this proverb counsels us to not attempt to “fix” it (to improve it, and thus risk breaking it ourselves!).
Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None Subject: Work A “Jack of all trades” is someone who is good at many different things. However, to be good at many things is usually to never be excellent at one thing.
Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should Subject: Behavior Just because you can do a given action, does not mean that it is smart or wise to actually do it. Many people abuse their freedom and do stupid things, saying “It’s my right to choose!” Yes, but use that right wisely…
Kill Two Birds With One Stone Subject: Efficiency This means, whenever possible, a person should accomplish two tasks with one action. In other words, choose the most advantageous and profitable option.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie Subject: Behavior This means, when a situation could become bad, but is not bad, do not stir the situation up. If the guard dog is asleep, let it stay asleep. Let sleeping dogs lie. Or rather, lie undisturbed.
Do Not Wrestle With A Pig Subject: Argument and Debate ď Ž Do not argue with someone who is not attempting an honest debate, or who is too stupid to hold one. It is like wrestling with a pig; you get dirty, and the pig enjoys itself at your expense. Nothing good comes from it whatsoever. ď Ž
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished Subject: Behavior This proverb warns us that many attempts to help others are greeted with resentment, or somehow backfire upon the person trying to help. If you do a good deed, expect to be repaid in evil. Do not do good deeds in hope of praise.
No Honor Among Thieves Subject: Behavior ď Ž This proverb tells us that thieves will turn on each other in very quickly, turning each other in to the police (or others) to save themselves. Do not expect a criminal to protect you out of a sense of honor. ď Ž
All That Glitters Is Not Gold Subject: Finance Not everything is what it appears to be. Just because something looks good, does not indicate high quality. (Sometimes something is high quality and looks good, but one does not indicate the other whatsoever.)
Old Habits Die Hard Subject: Behavior When a person is accustomed to some kind of behavior (a habit), this behavior becomes familiar and is very hard to break. Thus, habits “die hard” because of the difficulty of ending them.
Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day. Subject: Time This tells us, great things do not happen quickly. Time is necessary to perform great deeds and build great buildings and cities.
Talk Is Cheap. Subject: Behavior ď Ž Anyone can say things. Anyone can claim to be a wonderful person. Talk costs the talker nothing; it is cheap and therefore common. Actions that bring heartfelt praise are rarer, and therefore not cheap. ď Ž
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