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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ An Irish proverb is relevant here -- 'You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather is.'
▪ Do you remember this old proverb: 'When poverty comes in the door, love flies out of the window'?
▪ In reply, he quoted a Sanskrit proverb: 'Forgiveness is the ornament of the brave'.
▪ A proverb in fact from hell.
▪ After frontal damage, the patient may just paraphrase the proverb.
▪ He grinned and then uttered a Swahili proverb.
▪ Maxims, proverbs, and other forms of folk wisdom give a person reasons for obeying rules.
▪ She was an encyclopaedia of superstitions and proverbs.
▪ Sticks and stones may break our bones, but names will never hurt us, as the noted proverb has it.
▪ There is as it happens an Anglo-Saxon proverb analogous to Lord Acton's, but still significantly different.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Proverb \Prov"erb\, n. [OE. proverbe, F. proverbe, from L. proverbium; pro before, for + verbum a word. See Verb.]

  1. An old and common saying; a phrase which is often repeated; especially, a sentence which briefly and forcibly expresses some practical truth, or the result of experience and observation; a maxim; a saw; an adage.
    --Chaucer. Bacon.

  2. A striking or paradoxical assertion; an obscure saying; an enigma; a parable.

    His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb.
    --John xvi. 29.

  3. A familiar illustration; a subject of contemptuous reference.

    Thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by word, among all nations.
    --Deut. xxviii. 37.

  4. A drama exemplifying a proverb.

    Book of Proverbs, a canonical book of the Old Testament, containing a great variety of wise maxims.

    Syn: Maxim; aphorism; apothegm; adage; saw.


Proverb \Prov"erb\, v. t.

  1. To name in, or as, a proverb. [R.]

    Am I not sung and proverbed for a fool ?

  2. To provide with a proverb. [R.]

    I am proverbed with a grandsire phrase.


Proverb \Prov"erb\, v. i. To write or utter proverbs. [R.]

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

c.1300, in boke of Prouerbyys, the Old Testament work, from Old French proverbe (12c.) and directly from Latin proverbium "a common saying, old adage, maxim," literally "words put forward," from pro- "forth" (see pro-) + verbum "word" (see verb). Used generally from late 14c. The Book of Proverbs in Old English was cwidboc, from cwide "speech, saying, proverb, homily," related to cwiddian "to talk, speak, say, discuss;" cwiddung "speech, saying, report."


n. 1 A phrase expressing a basic truth which may be apply to common situations. 2 A striking or paradoxical assertion; an obscure saying; an enigma; a parable. 3 A familiar illustration; a subject of contemptuous reference. 4 A drama exemplifying a proverb. vb. 1 To write or utter proverbs. 2 To name in, or as, a proverb. 3 To provide with a proverb.


n. a condensed but memorable saying embodying some important fact of experience that is taken as true by many people [syn: adage, saw, byword]


A proverb is a simple and concrete statement popularly known and repeated, that expresses a truth based on common sense or experience.

Proverbs are often borrowed from similar languages and cultures, and sometimes come down to the present through more than one language. Both the Bible (including, but not limited to the Book of Proverbs) and medieval Latin (aided by the work of musmus) have played a considerable role in distributing proverbs across Europe. Mieder has concluded that cultures that treat the Bible as their "major spiritual book contain between three hundred and five hundred proverbs that stem from the Bible." However, almost every culture has examples of its own unique proverbs.

Proverb (Reich)

Proverb is a musical composition by Steve Reich for three sopranos, two tenors, two vibraphones, and two electric organs. It sets a text by Ludwig Wittgenstein from the year 1946 and published in Culture and Value. It was written in 1995 and was originally intended for The Proms and the Utrecht Early Music Festival. It was premiered at Alice Tully Hall in New York City on February 10, 1996 by Theatre of Voices with Paul Hillier, to whom the piece is dedicated.

Proverb was written during a period when Reich was experimenting with "speech melody", and is influenced by the period Reich spent working on The Cave with Paul Hillier and singers with a strong background in medieval polyphony. This is especially apparent in the two tenor parts, which pay homage to Pérotin and organum in their use of rhythmic modes and pedal points. The text is: "How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life!" This text is an excellent explanation of the piece itself, as well as perhaps Reich's career, much of it spent exploring minimalism.

The melody is first presented by a solo soprano voice, singing a long lyric line. This original melody and text are repeated throughout the piece in successive unison canons, gradually augmenting in length but not strictly, and interspersed with tenor duets that vocalise on the prevailing vowel sound. The piece is primarily in harmonic B minor, with a central section in E flat minor. In this central part the melody is inverted with some resulting conflict between natural and flattened leading notes, and the canon is interrupted by both a false start and a tenor interlude. The return to the home key area marks the start of the final canon, and a joining of both soprano and tenor ideas, until at the end the text is restated to a transformed melody with chordal accompaniment.

From the start Reich uses a mixture of time signatures that vary almost continuously between lengths of 4 to 9 quavers. Groupings of bar lengths begin to emerge and then changes in this underlying fabric serve to define sections, such as the tenor organa and the false canon. The work is approximately 14 minutes long.

Proverb is one of a number of Reich's works which has been remixed by electronic musicians. It is also the inspiration for a dance which was premiered at London's Barbican Centre in September 2006. It plays an important role in Richard Powers's 2014 novel Orfeo.

The work has been well received by critics.

Proverb (disambiguation)

A proverb is a simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated.

Proverb may also refer to:

  • Proverb, the South African hip-hop singer.
  • Proverb (Reich), a musical composition.
  • Proverb Jacobs (born 1935), American football offensive and defensive lineman.

Proverbs may refer to:

  • The Book of Proverbs, a book of the Hebrew Bible.

Usage examples of "proverb".

The overloaded appetite loathes even the honeycomb, and it is scarce a wonder that the knight, mortified and harassed with misfortunes and abasement, became something impatient of hearing his misery made, at every turn, the ground of proverbs and apothegms, however just and apposite.

He published the first collected volume of poetry by Opitz in Strasbourg in 1624 and an influential collection of proverbs and apothegms in 1626.

In part, the proverb is parthenogenic, since one stops counting after three and begins anew, yet there may be a reason why so many cultures have held the number sacred.

The public has so long listened to these funereal solos that if a few of the poets thus impatient to be gone were to go, their departure would perhaps be attended by that resigned speeding which the proverb invokes on behalf of the parting guest.

It follows that the proverb loses its unconditionality and authority to the extent that we imagine or project a particular source for it.

Farmer Attention, as the proverb says, is a good farmer, all the world over, and Burns was such by fits and by starts.

The second Lokman, also called the Sage, was a slave and Abyssinian negro, sold by the Israelites during the reign of David or Solomon, and who left a volume of proverbs and exempla, not fables or apologues, some of which still dwell in the public memory.

An Italian proverb, speaking for nature, gives the true solution of the riddle.

Indeed, the situation of poets is generally such, to a proverb, as may, in some measure, palliate that prostitution of heart and talents, they have at times been guilty of.

Then who that reads the Proverbs attentively can help seeing, that some of them are much plainer, and calculated to be much more useful, than others.

When he finished his prayer he launched into a long rambling speech in which he welcomed us to the compound as new tenants, in which he aimed a few well turned barbs at real and imaginary enemies, and in which he released a torrent of proverbs and saws and anecdotes that fell like stones to the depths of our hunger.

To weaken the force of my arguments, she was often satisfied with hurling at me a proverb, somewhat in the fashion of the Romans throwing the catapult.

Before 1600 men in Scotland had begun to make collections of proverbs.

His insides were all knotted up with tension, and he kept hearing old gryphon proverbs in the back of his mind, about well-fed gryphons and the inability to fly out of danger.

Amid the usual meaningless outcries and proverbs Matern reads, after buttoning up, the significant entry: Captain Erich Hufnagel, Altena, Lenneweg 4.