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English Proverbs

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o Play on 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away'

* A child that does not let its mother sleep at night will not sleep also [Nigerian and Ghanaian Proverb]

* A boiled egg in the morning is hard to beat.

* A poor workman blames his tools.

o Possible Interpretation: Good workmanship depends no more on the quality of the tools than it does on the way in which they are used, so to blame the tools for bad workmanship is to attempt to excuse one's own lack of skill.

o In former times, a blacksmith would have made his own tools, so the act of blaming one's tools would rebound on oneself.

o This wording of this proverb also has the double meaning : A workman without much money blames the quality of his tools.

o There is a circular aspect, in that a workman will remain poor without improving his skills, regardless of the quality of his tools, and thus never be able to afford better tools.

* A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

o Possible Interpretation: A small amount that you have is worth more than a large amount that is uncertain.

o Possible Interpretation: Something tangible with clear rights of ownership can be sold at market as opposed to something than that which is speculative and not secured.

o Possible Interpretation: This comes from the traditional falconers. It was better to keep the bird that you had in hand (ie trained) than to let that one go to catch two untrained birds.

o Variant: A bird in the hand makes it hard to blow your nose.

o Variant: A bird in the bush is worth two in the hand.

o Possible Interpretation:Sex is better with a partner.

o Spanish version: "Mas vale pajaro en mano que ciento volando" Worth more is a bird in the hand than a hundred flying.

* A burnt child dreads fire

* A night with Venus and a month with mercury.

o Anti-promiscurity adage, alluding to a 18th-century mercury-based folk treatment for syphilis

o Cited in Bartz, Diane, "Har, me hearties! Excavating Blackbeard's ship", Reuters (via Yahoo! News), 30 October 2006. URL accessed on 2006-11-01.

* Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

o From Isle of Beauty by Thomas Haynes Bayly

o Possible Interpretation: We feel more affection for relatives and friends when we are separated from them.

o Possible reply is And too much makes it wander or the contradictary proverb, Out of sight; out of mind.

* A cat may look at a king.

o Possible Interpretation: This is one of Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes. It means: If a cat may look at a king, I have as much right to take an interest in what you are doing. Are you so important that I can't even look at you?

o Possible Interpretation: If a lowly cat may look at the highest authority in the land - the king - then why can't I look at you?

* A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.

o Possible Interpretation: The strength (usually metaphorical) of a group depends on the individual strength of each of its members.

* A closed mouth catches no flies.

o Humour: A closed mouth gathers no feet.

o I.e., One is often better off keeping his mouth shut.

o Possible Interpretation: One needs to open up to be able to harvest.

* A coward dies a thousand times before his death. The valiant never taste of death but once.

o From William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

o Possible interpretation: A coward constantly and fearfully imagines his own demise, while the valiant give no thought to how they might be harmed. Also: Worrying about a forthcoming disaster may cause as much (or even more) pain as the disaster when it occurs (but does neither change it nor make it easier).

* A creaking door hangs longest. and A creaking gate hangs long.

o Possible explanation: Despite a person seeming to be infirm over many years....creaking....they very often live longer than a seemingly healthy person who may suddenly drop dead!

o Possible Interpretation: Despite its defects, the quality and/or performance of a tested article is more dependable.

o Possible Interpretation: The creaking calls attention to the existence and state of the door; every time it is used, it is noted and sets up an expectation of impending failure. Thus subjectively the creaking door seems to hang longest.

* Actions speak louder than words.

* Advice when most needed is least heeded.

* A fool and his money are soon parted.

* A fox smells its own lair first. and A fox smells its own stink first.

o Possible Interpretation: If you are the first person to notice a fault in someone else, might that be because you have the same fault? This proverb is sometimes also used against someone who is claiming that someone else has passed wind, meaning that if you acknowledge a smell, perhaps you are the person who created the smell and are just trying to take the suspicion off yourself.

* A friend in need is a friend indeed.

o This could also be read as, A friend in need is a friend in debt.

* A friend to all is a friend to none.

* After a storm comes a calm.

* After dinner sit a while, after supper walk a mile.

* A good beginning makes a good ending.

* A good man in an evil society seems the greatest villain of all.

* A good surgeon has an eagle's eye, a lion's heart, and a lady's hand.

* A



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