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Top 10 Proverbs And Their Translations

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Proverb Translation for Meaning

Proverbs are a brief expression of popular wisdom, that provide advice on the world in general or in a particular situation.

Most countries have their own proverbs, and also proverbs that they have adopted from other countries and adapted to their own culture. With some proverbs, the translation will leave you with virtually the same words as those used in another language, while others might mean the same thing, but it will be stated in the same way. Translation of proverbs has to take culture into consideration as well as the words being used. Proverb translation is useful for language students and serves as a good tool for learning a new language.

English Proverbs and Their Foreign Equivalents

We have collected 10 popular proverbs in English and provided some equivalent proverbs with translation to English from other languages. Here are the 10 English proverbs and some foreign equivalents:

1) Strike while the iron is hot.

proverb translation

French – Il faut battre le fer pendant qu’il est chaud. Translation: We must strike while the iron is hot.

Italian – Batti il ferro finché è caldo. Translation: Strike while the iron is hot.

Russian – Куй желе´зо, пока горячо´. Translation: Strike while the iron is hot.

German – Aufschub bringt Gefahr. Translation: Delay brings danger.

2) Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

proverb translation

French – Faire d’une mouche un éléphant. Translation: Don’t make an elephant out of a fly.

Italian – Far d’una mosca un elefante. Translation: Don’t make an elephant out of a fly.

German – Aus einer Mücke einen Elefanten machen. Translation: Don’t make an elephant out of a mosquito.

Russian – Не делай из мухи слона. Translation: Don’t make an elephant out of a fly.

Spanish – Hacer de una pulga un elefante. Translation: Don’t make an elephant out of a flea.

3) Give the devil his bue.

proverb translation

Italian – Dare il diavolo ciò che gli spetta. Translation: Be fair to the devil.

Russian – Надо отдать должное и дьяволу. Translation: Be fair to the devil.

4) A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

proverb translation


Italian – Meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani. Translation: Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.


German – Lieber den Spatz in der Hand als die Taube auf dem Dach. Translation: Better the sparrow in the hand than the pigeon on the roof.

Spanish – Más vale pájaro en mano que ciento volando. Translation: A bird in the hand is worth more than a hundred flying.

5) Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

proverb translation

German – Sich nicht um ungelegte Eier kümmern. Translation: Don’t worry about eggs that haven’t been laid.

Russian – Делить шкуру неубитого медведя. Translation: To divide the pelt of a bear not yet killed.

Spanish – No vendas la piel del oso antes de cazarlo. Translation: Don’t sell the bear’s fur before you hunt it.

6) He who fights and runs away may live to fight another day.

proverb translation

Italian – È meglio che si dica ‘qui il tale fuggi’ che ‘qui il tale mori’. Translation: It is better to say “here he ran” than “here he died”.

Spanish – Vale más huir, que morir. Translation: Better to flee than to die.

7) Once bitten, twice shy.

proverbs translation

French – Chat échaudé craint l’eau froide. Translation: A scalded cat fears cold water.

German – Gebranntes Kind scheut das Feuer. Translation: The child fears the fire after being burned.

Russian – Обжегшись на молоке, дуют на воду. Translation: He who got burned by hot milk, blows on water.

Spanish – Gato escaldado del agua fría huye. Translation: A scalded cat flees from cold water.

8) The best defense is a good offense.

proverbs translation

Italian – La miglior difesa è l’attacco. Translation: The best defense is attack.

German – Die beste Verteidigung ist der Angriff. Translation: Attack is the best form of defense.

9) Barking dogs seldom bite.

proverbs translation

Italian – Can che abbaia non morde. Translation: The dog that barks doesn’t bite.

German – Bellende Hunde beißen nicht. Translation: Barking dogs don’t bite.

Russian – Не бойся собаки, что лает, а бойся той, что молчит и хвостом виляет. Translation: Don’t be afraid of the dog who barks, but be afraid of the one, who is silent and wags its tail.

Spanish – Perro ladrador, poco mordedor. Translation: Barking dog, not much of a bitter.

10) Don’t wash your dirty linen in public.

proverbs translation

Italian – Il tuo nemico è quello dell’area tua. Translation: Those are bad dogs who bite their own people.

German – Deine Wäsche wasche zu Hause. Translation: Wash your laundry at home.

Spanish – La ropa sucia se lava en casa. Translation: The laundry is washed at home.

As you can see, proverb translation can leave you with something that is quite a bit different from the original but that has the same meaning. This is what translators deal with on a regular basis. Proverb translation demonstrates very well, that a word for word translation won’t work. If you do need a translation done, our translation services provide superior quality translations that are accurate and retain the original meaning.

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