07/31/2020

Best Italian proverbs: 115 sayings

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The best Italian proverbs with English translation to learn the Italian language!

The value of Italian proverbs

Here’s a list of Italian proverbs together with their English translation. A treasure of popular wisdom!

A proverb is a short, pithy saying that expresses a traditionally held truth or piece of advice, based on common sense or experience.

Nothing defines a culture as distinctly as its language, and the element of language that best encapsulates a society’s values and beliefs is its proverbs.

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Proverbs are used in conversation by adults more than children, partially because adults have learned more proverbs than children.

Italian proverbs, because they are indirect, allow a speaker to disagree or give advice in a way that may be less offensive.

Many authors have used proverbs in their writings, for a very wide variety of literary genres: epics, novels, poems, and short stories.

With this list of Italian proverbs, you can show off your wisdom and understanding of the Italian culture during your next conversation with a native speaker.

115 Italian proverbs to learn

Sometimes it’s hard to find the English equivalent of an Italian proverb and the literal translation doesn’t make sense, but you can still guess from the context.

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italian proverbs about life

  1. A caval donato non si guarda in bocca

    Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

  2. A chi fa male, mai mancano scuse

    He who does evil, is never short of an excuse

  3. Aiutati che Dio t’aiuta

    Help yourself and God will help you

  4. Belle parole non pascon i gatti

    Fine words don’t feed cats

  5. Chi dorme non piglia pesci

    Literal translation: Those who sleep don’t catch any fish
    English equivalent: You snooze, you lose. Or, early bird catches the worm.

  6. Quando l’amico chiede, non v’è domani.

    When a friend asks, there is no tomorrow.

  7. Il dolce far niente.

    It is sweet to do nothing.

  8. L’amore è cieco

    Literal translation and English equivalent: Love is blind.

  9. L’amore vince sempre

    Love conquers all.

  10. La vita è un sogno

    Life is a dream.

  11. Mangia bene, ridi spesso, ama molto.

    Eat well, laugh often, love much.

  12. Nulla nuova, buona nuova.

    Literal translation and English equivalent: No news is good news.

  13. Quando finisce la partita il re ed il pedone finiscono nella stessa scatola.

    When you finish the game, the king and pawn end up in the same box.

  14. Una cena senza vino è come un giorno senza sole

    A meal without wine is a day without sunshine.

  15. È meglio qualche cosa che niente

    Something is still better than nothing.

  16. Ciò che è rimasto ha sapore piu dolce.

    The sweetest flesh is near the bones.

  17. Fuggi il piacer presente, che accena dolor futuro.

    Skip the enjoyment that you will regret.

  18. I fratelli uniti tra loro formano un fascio che pùo resistere agli sforzi più robusti.

    United we stand, divided we fall; Union is strength.

  19. La galline fanno l’uova dal becco.

    It’s by the head that the cow gives the milk.

  20. Ogni cosa si compra a prezzo.

    Everything you buy at the price.

  21. Ride bene chi ride ultimo.

    Literal translation: He who laughs last, laughs best.
    English equivalent: He who laughs last, laughs longest.

  22. Scusa non richiesta, accusa manifesta.

    Literal translation: Unsolicited excuse, evident charge.
    English equivalent: A guilty conscience needs no accuser.

  23. Senza tentazioni, senza onore.

    Where there is no temptation there is no glory.

  24. Si dice sempre il lupo più grande che non è.

    Literal translation: The wolf is made bigger than it is.

  25. Si mira piu dell’affetto che all’effetto.

    Take the will for the deed.

  26. Spazzatoio nuovo spazza ben la casa.

    Literal translation: A new broom sweeps well the house.

More Italian proverbs

Italian proverbs about life!

  1. Ogni cosa ha cagione.

    Literal translation: Everything has a reason.

  2. Buon seme dà buoni frutti.

    Literal translation: Good seed makes good fruit.

  3. Chi due lepri caccia, l’una non piglia e l’altra lascia.

    English equivalent: Grasp all, lose all

  4. Chi non è meco, è contro a meco

    He who is not with me is against me

  5. Tra il dire e il fare c´è di mezzo il mare.

    Literal translation: There’s a sea between saying and doing.
    English equivalent: Easier said than done.

  6. La buona moglie fa il buon marito.

    A good wife makes a good husband.

  7. Uomo avvisato, mezzo salvato.

    Forewarned is forearmed.

  8. Il riso fa buon sangue

    Literal translation: Laughter makes good blood.
    English equivalent: Laughter is the best medicine.

  9. Chi fa falla, e chi non fa sfarfalla.

    Those who act, make mistakes; and those who do nothing really blunder.

  10. Meglio un uovo oggi che una gallina domani.

    Literal translation: Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.
    English equivalent: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

  11. Non c´è rosa senza spine.

    Literal translation and English equivalent: No rose without a thorn.

  12. Chi fa da sé, fa per tre.

    Literal translation: who does it by itself does it for three people.
    English equivalent: Do it yourself if you want it done right.
    italian sayings

  13. La famiglia è la patria del cuore.

    Family is the heartland of your heart.

  14. Ne ammazza più la gola che la spada.

    Gluttony kills more than the sword.

  15. Chi non fa, non falla.

    Those who do nothing make no mistakes.

  16. L’ozio è il padre di tutti i vizi.

    Idleness is the father of all vices.

  17. Quando a Roma vai, fai come vedrai.

    When in Rome, do as the Romans.

  18. Chi molto pratica, molto impara.

    Practice makes perfect.

  19. O la va, O la spacca.

    All or Nothing.

  20. Chi dorme non piglia pesci.

    Those who sleep don’t catch any fish.

  21. La troppa bonezza finisce nella monnezza.

    Nice guys finish last.

Proverbs to learn Italian

Italian proverbs to understand Italian culture!

  1. Far d’una mosca un elefante.

    To make a mountain out of a molehill

  2. O mangiar questa minestra o saltar questa finestra.

    You can take it or leave.

  3. Ad ogni santo vien sua festa

    Every saint has his own festival

  4. Ai mali estremi, mali rimedi

    For severe ills, severe remedies

  5. Aiutati che Dio ti aiuta

    Helf yourself and God will help you

  6. Amor non conosce travaglio

    Love never tires

  7. Amor tutti fa uguali

    Love makes all men equal

  8. Amore è cieco

    Love is blind
    italian sayings about life

  9. Assai ben balla a chi Fortuna suona

    He dances well to whom Fortune pipes

  10. Bella cosa tosto è rapita

    A pretty thing is soon taken

  11. Breve orazione penetra

    God listens to short prayers

  12. Cavallo che corre non ha bisogno di sproni

    Do not spur the willing horse

  13. Cercare il pelo nell’ uovo

    To seek the hair in the egg, to pick faults where there are none.

  14. Che sarà sarà

    What is to be, will be

  15. Chi be vive, ben muore

    A good life makes an easy death

  16. Chi bestia va a Roma bestia ritorna

    He that goes to Rome a foot returns a fool

  17. Chi cerca mal, mal trova

    He who looks for evil generally finds it

  18. Chi la dura la vince

    He who perseveres wins at last

  19. Chi più sa, meno parla

    He who knows most, talks least

  20. Così fan tutte

    That is the way of all women

  21. Chi niente sa, di niente dubita

    Who knows nothing, doubts nothing

Random Italian proverbs

Italian proverbs about just anything!

  1. Danari fanno danari

    Money makes money

  2. Del male non fare e paura non avere

    Do no evil and have no fear

  3. Detto fatto

    No sooner said, than done

  4. Dì il vero e affronterai il diavolo

    Speak the truth and shame the devil

  5. Dove l’oro parla, ogni lingua tace

    Where gold speaks, every tongue is silent

  6. Gli nomini hanno gli anni che sentono, e le donne quelli che mostrano

    Men are as old as they feel, but women are as old as they look

  7. I gran dolori sono muti

    Great sorrows are mute

  8. L’abito non fa il monaco

    The cowl does not make the monk

  9. La calma è la virtù dei forti

    The calm is the virtue of the strong

  10. La donna è mobile

    Woman is a fickle thing

  11. La povertà è la madre di tutte le arti

    Necessity is the mother of invention

  12. Mal comune, mezzo gaudio

    A shared trouble is half joy

  13. Meglio tardi che mai

    Better late than never

  14. Morta la bestia, morto il veneno

    When the beast is dead, the venom is dead

  15. Necessità non ha legge

    Necessity knows no law

  16. Ogni pazzo vuol dar consiglio

    Every fool is ready with advice

  17. Parla bene, ma parla poco

    Speak well, but speak little

  18. Quel ch’è fatto, è fatto

    What is done is done

  19. Rosso di sera, bel tempo si spera

    Red sky in the evening, one hopes for good weather

  20. Tempo al tempo

    All in good time

  21. Traduttore, traditore

    Translator, traitor

  22. Tutte le strade conducono a Roma

    All roads lead to Rome

  23. Tutto è bene ciò che finisce bene

    All is well that ends well

  24. Un bel morir tutta la vita onora

    A noble death is an honor to the whole life

  25. Vedi Napoli e poi mori

    See Naples, and then die!

  26. Finchè c’è vita c’è speranza.

    Where there’s life, there’s hope.

  27. L’amore e cieco.

    Love is blind.

  28. Meglio un giorno da leone che cento da pecora.

    Better one day as a lion than a hundred as a sheep.

  29. Val più la pratica della grammatica.

    Experience is more important than theory.

  30. Vivi e lascia vivere.

    Live and let live.

Proverbs, quotes, sayings, and idioms

This is not an exhaustive list of Italian proverbs! Here are more Italian proverbs.

To learn from famous people, read this collection of Italian quotes, Italian sayings, and Italian idioms.

If you’re going to Italy, you need something more practical like these common Italian sentences.

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