English Essays On Proverbs



39 Proverbs for Speech Therapy Practice

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Proverbs


"A watched pot never boils."

Don't sit around waiting for something to happen.

"The grass is always greener on the other side."

People tend to want whatever they don't have.

"Time heals all wounds."

If someone hurts your feelings, you will feel better over time.

"Don't count your chickens before they hatch."

Your plans might not work out, so don't start thinking about what you'll do after you succeed. Wait until you've already succeeded, and then you can think about what to do next.

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket."

Have a backup plan. Don't risk all of your money or time in one plan.

"Time flies."

Time goes by very fast.

"A penny saved is a penny earned."

It is best to save your money and every little bit counts.

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Eating apples and other fruits and vegetables will help you stay healthy.

"Don't judge a book by its cover."

Sometimes things look different than they really are. You don't know someone/something just by looking at them/it.

"Turn over a new leaf."

Get a fresh start. It doesn't matter what happened in the past, you can start again.

"Two wrongs don't make a right."

When someone has done something bad to you, trying to get revenge will only make things worse.

"When in Rome, do as the Romans."

Act the way that the people around you are acting.

"The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

If you complain or speak up about something, you will get help before the person who waits patiently. No one's going to help you unless you speak up.

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

When a challenge comes or something is hard, you need to be strong and work harder.

"Better late than never."

It's still good to do it, even if it is late.

"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

If you have an enemy, pretend to be friends with them instead of openly fighting with them. That way you can watch them carefully and figure out what they're planning.

"It's the thought that counts."

Don't worry if something went wrong, you meant well. You were being kind even if it didn't go as expected.

"A picture is worth a thousand words."

Pictures can show emotions and messages better than written or spoken explanations.

"There's no place like home."

Your own home is the most comfortable place to be.

"The early bird catches the worm."

You should wake up, start work early, or get there first, if you want to succeed.

"Cleanliness is next to godliness."

Be clean, being clean is a top quality.

"Beggars can't be choosers."

If you ask for help or a favor, you have to take whatever they give you.

"Actions speak louder than words."

Doing something means a lot more than just saying it.  It is harder and more meaningful when you actually do it compared to saying it.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Don't try to improve something that already works fairly well. You'll probably create new problems.

"Practice makes perfect."

You have to practice a skill to become good at it.

"Easy come, easy go."

When you get money or something quickly, like by winning, it's easy to lose it or spend it quickly as well.

"Don't bite the hand that feeds you."

If someone's paying you or helping you out, be careful not to make them angry or say bad things/complain about them.

"All good things must come to an end."

You can't keep having good luck or fun forever; eventually it has to stop.

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

When you try to change someone's behavior and it doesn't work, you might have to change instead. For example, if you're trying to get your friends to focus on studying but they want to party, maybe you should just party with them.

"One man's trash is another man's treasure."

Different people value different things.

"There's no time like the present."

Don't wait to do something later, do it now.

"Good things come to those who wait."

Be patient.

"Two heads are better than one."

When more people help/cooperate, they come up with better ideas and it turns out better.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Don't be mean or do mean things to others unless you want them to be mean back. Golden Rule.

"A chain is only as strong as its weakest link."

If one member of a team doesn't perform well, the whole team will fail.

"Honesty is the best policy."

Don't lie.

"Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

Sometimes it's good to be away or take a break from someone, because it makes you want to see them again.

"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."

If you try to help someone, but they don't take your advice or offers, stop. You can't force someone to accept your help.

"If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself."

Don't trust other people to do important things for you. You have to do something yourself, if you want to make sure it is done the way you want it.


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This list of functional words was professionally selected to be the most useful for a child or adult who has difficulty understanding proverbs.

We encourage you to use this list when practicing proverbs at home.

Home practice with proverbs will make progress toward meeting individual language goals much faster.

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are only able to see students/clients 30-60 mins (or less) per week. This is not enough time or practice for someone to strengthen their understanding of proverbs.

Every day that your loved one goes without practicing proverbs it becomes more difficult to help them. 


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We know life is busy, but if you're reading this you're probably someone who cares about helping their loved one as much as you can.

Practice 5-10 minutes whenever you can, but try to do it on a consistent basis (daily).

Please, please, please use this list to practice.

It will be a great benefit to you and your loved one's progress.



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Homepage > Word Lists > Proverbs




Proverbs are popularly defined as "short expressions of popular wisdom". Efforts to improve on the popular definition have not led to a more precise definition. The wisdom is in the form of a general observation about the world or a bit of advice, sometimes more nearly an attitude toward a situation. See also English proverbs (alphabetically by proverb)

Absent[edit]

  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
  • Long absent, soon forgotten.

Action[edit]

  • Actions speak louder than words.
    • "Who cannot give good counsel? 'tis cheap, it cost them nothing."
    • Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy (1793)

Advance[edit]

  • He who does not advance goes backwards.
    • "He will through life be master of himself and a happy man who from day to day can have said,
      'I have lived: tomorrow the Father may fill the sky with black clouds or with cloudless sunshine.'"
    • Horace, 'OdesBook III, ode xxix, line 41. (c. 23 BC and 13 BC).
    • Strauss, Emanuel (1994). "495". Concise Dictionary of European Proverbs. II. Routledge. p. 445. ISBN 978-1-136-78978-6. 

Advice[edit]

Anchor[edit]

  • Good riding at two anchors, men have told, for if the one fails, the other may hold. (Strauss, 1994 p. 879)

Apple[edit]

  • One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel. or One scabbed sheep mars the whole flock.
    • "Evil spreads. One attractive bad example may be readily followed by others, eventually ruining a whole community."
    • Source for meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "X". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 292. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
    • Cf. Dan Michael of Northgate, Ayenbite of Inwyt (1340): "A rotten apple will spoil a great many sound ones." (Middle English: "A roted eppel amang þe holen: makeþ rotie þe yzounde.").
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
    • Cf. Notes and Queries magazine, Feb. 24, 1866, p. 153: "Eat an apple on going to bed, // And you'll keep the doctor from earning his bread." [1].
    • Adapted to its current form in the 1900s as a marketing slogan used by American growers concerned that the temperance movement would cut into sales of apple cider. (Pollan, 2001 p.22)
  • A rotten apple injures its companions.
    • "This Proverb is apply'd to such Persons who being vicious themselves,
      labour to debauch those with whom they converse." - Divers Proverbs, Nathan Bailey, 1721 [2]
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away--if you have good aim.
    • A humorous version of the nutritional exortation to maintain good health by eating fruit. Original source unknown.

Art[edit]

  • English equivalent: The best art conceals art.

Ass[edit]

  • When all men say you are an ass it is time to bray. (Strauss 1994, p. 1221)

Baby[edit]

  • Don't make clothes for a not yet born baby. (Strauss 1994, p. 683)
    • "One never rises so high as when one does not know where one is going."
    • Oliver Cromwell to M. Bellièvre. Found in Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz
  • Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    • "Do not take the drastic step of abolishing or discarding something in its entirety when only part of it is unacceptable."
    • Source for meaning: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 66. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 25 August 2013. 
    • Brown, James Kyle (2001). I Give God a Chance: Christian Spirituality from the Edgar Cayce Readings. Jim Brown. p. 8. ISBN 0759621705. 

Bad[edit]

  • Bad is the best choice.
    • "Don't avoid the clichés - they are clichés because they work!"
    • George Lucas to Marty Sklar, quoted in "The Imagineering Way: Ideas to Ignite your Creativity" (Disney Editions, 2003)
    • Mawr, E.B. (1885). Analogous Proverbs in Ten Languages. p. 17. 
  • A bad settlement is better than a good lawsuit.
    • Filipp, M. R. (2005). Covenants Not to Compete, Aspen.
  • Good laws have sprung from bad customs. (Strauss, 1994 p. 879)
  • We must take the bad with the good.

Bed[edit]

  • As you make your bed, so you will sleep on it.
    • "One has to accept the consequences of one's actions, as any result is the logical consequence of preceding actions."
    • Source for proverb and meaning: (Paczolay, 1997 p. 401)

Bear[edit]

Beat[edit]

  • If you can't beat them, join them. (Speak, 2009)

Best[edit]

Beggar[edit]

  • Beggars can't be choosers.
    • "We must accept with gratitude and without complaint what we are given when we do not have the means or opportunity to provide ourselves with something better."
    • Source for meaning:Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 19. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 29 June 2013. 
  • Put a beggar on horseback and he'll ride it to death.

Begin[edit]

  • A good beginning makes a good ending.
    • "Starting properly ensures the speedy completion of a process. A beginning is often blocked by one or more obstacles (potential barriers) the removal of which may ensure the smooth course of the process."
    • Source for meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "40". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 228. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Well begun is half done.
    • "Starting properly ensures the speedy completion of a process. A beginning is often blocked by one or more obstacles (potential barriers) the removal of which may ensure the smooth course of the process."
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "40". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 228. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
    • Divers Proverbs, Nathan Bailey, 1721 [3]

Bellyful[edit]

  • A bellyful is one of meat, drink, or sorrow.
    • Manser, M. (2006). The Wordsworth dictionary of proverbs, Wordsworth Editions, Limited. p. 45

Better[edit]

  • Better is the enemy of good.
    • "Just Do It"
    • Nike slogan coined in 1988
    • Mieder, Wolfgang; Kingsbury, Stewart A.; Harder, Kelsie B. (1992). A Dictionary of American proverbs. pp. 710. , p. xcv
  • Better late than never.
  • Better safe than sorry. (Speake, 2009)
  • Better underdone than overdone. (Strauss, 1994 p. 589)

Beware[edit]

  • Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, and inwardly are ravening wolves. (Matthew; bible quote). (Strauss, 1998 p. 170)

Bird[edit]

  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
    • John Bunyan cites this traditional proverb in The Pilgrim's Progress, (1678):
      So are the men of this world: They must have all their good things now; they cannot stay till the next year, that is, until the next world, for their portion of good. That proverb, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," is of more authority with them than are all the divine testimonies of the good of the world to come.
    • "Something you have for certain now is of more value than something better you may get, especially if you risk losing what you have in order to get it."
    • Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. 
  • Birds of a feather flock together.
    • "It is a fact worthy of remark, that when a set of men agree in any particulars, though never so trivial, they flock together, and often establish themselves into a kind of fraternity for contriving and carrying into effect their plans. According to their distinct character they club together, factious with factious, wise with wise, indolent with indolent, active with active et cetera."
    • Source for meaning: Porter, William Henry (1845). Proverbs: Arranged in Alphabetical Order .... Munroe and Company. p. 41. 
    • Alike people goes a long well.
  • Deal gently with the bird you mean to catch. (Strauss, 1994 p. 689)
    • "When people are friends, they have no need of justice, but when they are just, they need friendship in addition."
    • Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (c. 325 BC), Book VIII, 1155.a26
  • Fine feathers make fine birds. (Simpson , 2009)
    • "Fairest and best adorned is she
      Whose clothing is humility."
    • James Montgomery, Humility. (1841)
  • It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest.
    • "Why wantonly proclaim one's own disgrace, or expose the faults or weaknesses of one's kindred or people?"
    • Source for meaning: (Kelly, 1859 p. 109)
  • It is the early bird that gets the worm.

Bite[edit]

  • Don't bark if you can't bite. (Sadler, 1873)
    • "I made the statement years ago which is often quoted that 80 percent of life is showing up. People used to always say to me that they wanted to write a play, they wanted to write a movie, they wanted to write a novel, and the couple of people that did it were 80 percent of the way to having something happen."
    • Woody Allen, Interview for The Collider (2008)
  • Don't bite off more than you can chew.
    • Heacock, Paul (2003). Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms (Illustrated ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 512. ISBN 052153271X. 
  • Don't bite the hand that feeds you. (Wolfgang, 1991)

Blood[edit]

  • Blood is thicker than water.
    • "The bonds between solders of a battle is stronger than family ties"
      • "The blood of the covenant is thicker that the water of the womb"
    • "Family before Friendship"
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). "X". European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 233. ISBN 1-875943-44-7. 
  • Good blood always shows itself.
    • Mawr, E.B. (1885). Analogous Proverbs in Ten Languages. p. 34. 

Bloom[edit]

  • Bloom where you are planted. (Szerlip, 2004 p. 320)

Book[edit]

  • A book is a friend.
  • Don't judge a book by its cover.
    • "Do not form an opinion about something or somebody based solely on outward appearance."
    • Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 61. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. 
    • Mieder, Wolfgang; Kingsbury, Stewart A.; Harder, Kelsie B. (1992). A Dictionary of American proverbs. pp. 710. , p. 311
  • Fear the man of one book. (Strauss 1994, p. 851)
  • No book was so bad, but some good might be got out of it.
    • "From one learn all."
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC)
    • (Strauss 1994, p. 1104)

Boat

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