Also found in: Thesaurus, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


1. A short pithy saying in frequent and widespread use that expresses a basic truth or practical precept.
2. Proverbs(used with a sing. verb) See Table at Bible.

[Middle English proverbe, from Old French, from Latin prōverbium : prō-, forth; see pro-1 + verbum, word; see wer- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Bible) (functioning as singular) a book of the Old Testament consisting of the proverbs of various Israelite sages including Solomon
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈprɒv ərbz)

(used with a sing. v.) a book of the Bible, containing the sayings of sages.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.


See also wisdom.

a maxim, axiom, proverb, or old saying.
1. a fragment or extract from literature.
2. a collection of teachings, as the Analects of Confucius.
a terse saying embodying a general truth, as “Time flies.” — aphorist, n. — aphorismic, aphorismical, aphoristic, adj.
a creator of short, pithy instructive sayings; aphorist. — apothegmatic, apophthegmatic, apothegmatical, apophthegmatical, adj. — apothegm, apophthegm, n.
a trite saying; a platitude.
a pithy statement, often containing a paradox. — epigrammatist, n.
1. a collection or anthology of gnomes, or aphorisms.
2. aphoristic writing.
maxims or sayings attributed to a religious leader. See also christ.
a short, pithy statement that serves as a motto. — maximist, n.
a rhetorical proverb. — paroemiac, adj.
1. the writing of proverbs.
2. the collecting of proverbs. — paroemiographer, n.
the study of proverbs. — paroemiologist, paremiologist, n.
1. proverbs taken as a group.
2. proverbs taken as a field of study. — proverbiologist, n. — proverbiological, adj.
an aphorism or witty saying.
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Maxims, Proverbs and Sayings

  1. Browsing through a book of proverb … it’s like taking a turn in a garden … full of roses and fruit, where the bushes speak to you; and I come back rested, with smiles in my mind —Anatole France
  2. Figures of speech are risky; for in art, as in arithmetic, many have no head for figures —G. K. Chesterton
  3. Genuine proverbs are like good (kambrick) needles, short, sharp, and shiny —Josh Billings

    The first word was originally in Billings’ phonetic dialect: ‘ginowine.’

  4. His sayings are generally like women’s letters; all the pith is in the postscript —William Hazlitt

    The man with the pith in his postscripts was Charles Lamb.

  5. Like many cliches, it has the ring of truth —Anon
  6. A man of maxims only is like a Cyclops with one eye, and that eye placed in the back of his head —Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  7. Maxims are like lawyers who must needs see but one side of the case —Gelett Burgess
  8. Proverbs, like the sacred books of each nation, are the sanctuary of the intuitions —Ralph Waldo Emerson
  9. A proverb without wisdom is like a body without a foot —Moses Ibn Ezra
  10. Rustic sayings which she threw, like flowers, into the conversation —Anatole France
  11. A saying is like a fruit; one has first to eat it … before one can know its taste —Sholem Asch
  12. Sayings by wise men … they are like burning glasses, as they collect the diffused rays of wit and learning in authors, and make them point with warmth and quickness on the reader’s imagination —Jonathan Swift
  13. Sayings by wise men … they are of great value, like the dust of gold, or the sparks of diamonds —John Tillotson
  14. Similes are like songs on love: they much describe; they nothing prove —Matthew Prior
  15. Similes dangle like baubles from me —William H. Gass
  16. A word [that’s been overused] … lost its identity like an old coat in a second-hand shop —Anaĩs Nin
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.Proverbs - an Old Testament book consisting of proverbs from various Israeli sages (including Solomon)Proverbs - an Old Testament book consisting of proverbs from various Israeli sages (including Solomon)
Old Testament - the collection of books comprising the sacred scripture of the Hebrews and recording their history as the chosen people; the first half of the Christian Bible
Hagiographa, Ketubim, Writings - the third of three divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures
sapiential book, wisdom book, wisdom literature - any of the biblical books (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus) that are considered to contain wisdom
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
He that writeth in blood and proverbs doth not want to be read, but learnt by heart.
Proverbs should be peaks, and those spoken to should be big and tall.
And above all," thought Prince Andrew, "one believes in him because he's Russian, despite the novel by Genlis and the French proverbs, and because his voice shook when he said: 'What they have brought us to!' and had a sob in it when he said he would 'make them eat horseflesh!'"
First, it is likely that before the rise of the Ionian epos there existed in Boeotia a purely popular and indigenous poetry of a crude form: it comprised, we may suppose, versified proverbs and precepts relating to life in general, agricultural maxims, weather-lore, and the like.
And hence this friendship gave occasion to many sarcastical remarks among the domestics, most of which were either proverbs before, or at least are become so now; and, indeed, the wit of them all may be comprised in that short Latin proverb, " Noscitur a socio; " which, I think, is thus expressed in English, "You may know him by the company he keeps."
There is also one sort of knowledge proper for a master, another for a slave; the slave's is of the nature of that which was taught by a slave at Syracuse; for he for a stipulated sum instructed the boys in all the business of a household slave, of which there are various sorts to be learnt, as the art of cookery, and other such-like services, of which some are allotted to some, and others to others; some employments being more honourable, others more necessary; according to the proverb, "One slave excels another, one master excels another:" in such-like things the knowledge of a slave consists.
For, after all, I AM a distant kinsman of yours--the seventh drop of water in the pudding, as the proverb has it--yet still a kinsman, and at the present time your nearest relative and protector, seeing that where you had the right to look for help and protection, you found only treachery and insult.
A CAT was looking at a King, as permitted by the proverb.
Well, then, according to the proverb, `Let brother help brother'-- if he fails in any part do you assist him; although I must confess that Glaucon has already said quite enough to lay me in the dust, and take from me the power of helping justice.
But if a man mark it well, it is, in praise and commendation of men, as it is in gettings and gains: for the proverb is true, That light gains make heavy purses; for light gains come thick, whereas great, come but now and then.
Remember the old proverb which says: `Stolen money never bears fruit.' Addio, false friends."
In this Spain of ours there is a proverb, to my mind very true- as they all are, being short aphorisms drawn from long practical experience- and the one I refer to says, 'The church, or the sea, or the king's house;' as much as to say, in plainer language, whoever wants to flourish and become rich, let him follow the church, or go to sea, adopting commerce as his calling, or go into the king's service in his household, for they say,