Wisdom of the Worlds Proverbs

By: Rodney Ohebsion

You don't have to excavate diamond mines or oil fields to find one of the world's greatest treasures. All you need to do is look at the world's proverbs--the 'people's wisdom.' Legendary Spanish writer Miguel De Cervantes described proverbs as 'short sentences drawn from long experiences,' and Scottish Historian Thomas Carlyle once wrote, 'There is often more spiritual force in a proverb than in whole philosophical systems.'

Proverbs are what the entire world has been creating for thousands and thousands of years through its thoughts, observations, insights, experiences, teachings, lessons, and writings. Here are some of these jewels of wisdom:

The unborn baby that fears criticism will never be born. (Burundi)

Every head must do its own thinking. (Liberia)

The zebra told the white horse, 'I am white,' and told the black horse, 'I am actually black.' (Namibia)

If you put a rope around your neck, many people will be glad to drag you by it. (Egypt)

The supreme excellence is not in being better than others, but in being better than your former self. (India)

A small house is enough room for a thousand friends. (Syria)

Don't be too sweet, or else you will be eaten up; but don't be too bitter, or else you will be spitted out. (Hebrew)

You can close the city gates, but you can’t close the people's mouths. (Iran)

Marriage is an uncut watermelon. (Iran)

Ripe fruit falls by itself--but it doesn't fall in your mouth. (China)

A wise man makes his own decisions, but an ignorant man mindlessly follows the crowd. (China)

'’t have to cut down a tree to get its fruit. (Cambodia)

Different men have different opinions--some prefer apples, some onions.


A few kind words can warm three winter months. (Japan)

The person who has many faults is usually the first to criticize others. (Korea)

The distance between heaven and earth is no greater than one thought. (Mongolia)

Opportunities come, but do not linger. (Nepal)

No matter how much care is taken, someone will always be misled. (The Philippines)

Where there is a sea, there are pirates. (Singapore)

A husband and wife often fight intensely at one moment and then kiss intensely at the next moment. (Taiwan)

The sweetness of food doesn't last long, but the sweetness of good words do. (Thailand)

Things used to be that way, now they’re this way, and who knows what they will be like later. (Basque)

Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it. (England)

What 'they say' is half lies. (England)

One day is as good as two for the person who does everything in its place. (France)

Sailors get to know each other better when there is a storm (Corsica)

A praying pirate is definitely a sign of danger. (The Netherlands)

Hell is paved with good intentions, and roofed with lost opportunities. (Portugal)

If you want to be respected, you must respect yourself. (Spain)

Buy from people who are desperate, and sell to newlyweds. (Spain)

A timely ore (penny) is as good as a kroner (dollar). (Denmark)

Ask for advice, and then use your brain. (Norway)

A gentle word opens an iron gate. (Bulgaria)

To change and to change for the better are two different things. (Germany)

Listen to valuable statements, even if they come from your enemy's mouth. (Greece)

A habit is first a wanderer, then a guest, and finally the boss. (Hungary)

It's natural to have some disagreement between husband and wife. (Hungary)

All the brains are not in one head. (Italy)

He is a fool who does not consider his own interests. (Malta)

Being too nice can cost a lot. (Yiddish)

Asking is no sin, and being refused is no tragedy. (Russia)

If you wonder often, the gift of understanding will come. (Arapaho)

Listen--or your tongue will keep you deaf. (Cherokee)

Let your nature be known and expressed. (Huron)

Respect everyone, but lower yourself to no one. (Shawnee)

If you make yourself into a doormat, people will wipe their feet on you. (America)

The road to the head lies through the heart. (America)

After weeks of beans and taters, even a change to taters and beans is good. (Cowboy)

He who speaks too much is tiresome; he who speaks to little is boring. (Mexico)

A mind can make a heaven out of hell, or a hell out of heaven. (Costa Rica)

Even the supreme cloth is bound to have one faulty thread. (Honduras)

Brief encounters can result in long relationships. (Cuba)

Being careful is not being a coward. (Haiti)

Suit the behavior to the occasion. (Columbia)

The miserable only keep track of your misses and never count your hits. (Paraguay)

Those who lose dreaming are lost. (Australia)

A house full of people is filled with different points of view. (New Zealand)

These and over 1500 other proverbs are contained in A Collection of Wisdom. More information on the book is available at

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